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 Style of the Text

There are not many simple ways to measure differences between two texts in terms of style. In many ways the style of The Revision is close to that of Gurdjieff’s original. It has almost the same content. We rarely noticed it breaking up Gurdjieff’s long sentences into shorter ones, although at times it does. Similarly it rarely broke up a paragraph into two paragraphs. However when Gurdjieff uses the active voice it often uses the passive voice instead.

Here are some examples taken from the first few pages of Chapter 1, The Arousing of Thought:

Gurdjieff wrote: “results from”—The Revision has: “is derived from.”

Gurdjieff wrote: “comes to my brain”—The Revision has: “has just slipped uninvited into my brain.”

Gurdjieff wrote: “the extraordinarily curious”—The Revision has: “it is an extremely curious fact.”

The passive voice is usually regarded as poor style, because it tends to confuse the reader. The last of the above examples, for instance, simply adds unnecessary words. While Gurdjieff is often wordy, we have not (to our surprise) encountered situations where we found any of his words redundant.

And while Gurdjieff sometimes uses the passive voice in his writing, he probably knew better than anyone when active was corresponding and when passive was corresponding.