Notes on the 1992 Revision of The Tales

The Revision of The Tales

[An Excerpt from To Fathom The Gist, Vol 2 – The Arch Absurd]

The publication in 1992 of a complete revision of The Tales came as a shock to many people in The Work. There were some fairly immediate negative reactions to it and arguments about its legitimacy persist to this day. In my view, what has been missing from the discussion surrounding The Revision is a thorough analysis to establish what damage, if any, it does to Gurdjieff ’s original work.

Along with others in The Work, when The Revision was published I paid no attention to it, content with the criticism of it delivered in an open letter by A. L. Staveley and adopting the common sense attitude that Gurdjieff ’s original work needed no improvement. The first time we encountered any text from the revised version was twenty years later in 2012. One of my correspondents sent an extract from The Tales requesting our assistance in gleaning an allegorical perspective.

We initially spent an hour on this task, as it was not a section we had previously examined in depth. Then, quite by accident, because we referred to one of our indexes of The Tales, we discovered that the extract sent to us had been taken from The Revision. Studying instead the original text, it immediately became clear that the meaning of the section was far easier to divine.

The Revision obscured the meaning!!

We found this experience a little worrying, since other readers would surely be impacted by The Revision in a similar way. It would deny them the insights that Gurdjieff’s objective writings are capable of delivering. After publishing Volume 1 of To Fathom the Gist we resolved to subject The Revision to further analysis for this volume (volume 2). We detail the results here.