A disciple for a time of the Russian metaphysician/gum Gurdjieff (p. 1135) Ouspensky wrote these two parables in the first...

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TALKS WITH THE DEVIL

A disciple for a time of the Russian metaphysician/gum Gurdjieff (p. 1135) Ouspensky wrote these two parables in the first decades of this century -- one pre-Gurdjieff and the other during what editor J. G. Bennett in his introduction terms his ""Wanderjahren"" among the philosophers of India. The two stories are rich in dialectic gimmickry, deadly as fiction. ""The Inventor"" explores dualistic ironies in a technological age, as a young inventor, down and out, plans suicide but happens on an idea for a new type of automatic pistol. The pistol is enormously successful, killing with supreme efficiency, while the inventor, now a multimillionaire never facing the consequences of his work, turns to a sharper awareness of non-material values and love. In ""The Benevolent Devil,"" talks with him stress the attraction of the material world. ""We try to do our best to keep you on earth. . . there is nothing besides this world. . . The kingdom of matter is eternal!"" The Devil also explains the divergent natures of the children of animals, who cause the demons no difficulty because they are content with form and appearances and never let religion (although they are religious) ""interfere with their lives"" -- and the descendants of Adam, always ""looking for essences."" These are a problem, as for example British-officer-in-India Leslie White, who often eludes his guardian devil (a worried neurotic little gnome) to consort with dangerous matters such as philosophy, ideals and spiritual love. Apparently there is a Gurdjieff boomlet on campus at present which may extend to his acolyte.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1973