Saturday Book 10th Anniversary – a blurb & Gurdjieff

The Saturday Book (1950) 10th Anniversary edition has this quite modern sounding interview/ blurb printed on the inside flaps of its jacket. It was edited by Leonard Russell who probably wrote it. There is a 1000 to one chance it was written by George Orwell a one-time contributor and no stranger to advertising techniques..

Inside flap reads:

Saturday book
Q. and A.

Q.Ten years is a long time, isn't it for a publication of this kind?
A.There is no other publication of this kind.

Q.No imitations, then?
A.They have all perished - crushed to death by the weight of our reputation.

Q.Ah! And is this tenth anniversary number the best ever?
A. Certainly. It is axiomatic.

Q.How would you describe it in a nutshell?
A.Conservatively, as a master piece.

Q.H'm, any particular favourites among this year's contribution.
A.Let's see - there's Osbert Sitwell, Bertrand Russell, Kenneth Walker, Fred Bason, Olive Cookand Edwin Smith, John Hadfield, Walter de la Mare, F. Spencer Chapman.

Q.But aren't you reading straight from the list of contents?
A.Oh, sorry.

Q.Any weakness in the book?
A. Regrettably yes - a missing acute accent somewhere towards the end.

Q.How did the whole Saturday Book start?
A. It's all here in the book. You can just say that once it began it was more catching than measles.

Q. Are you celebrating your tenth anniversary?
A. Constantly.

Q.Anything else of interest?
A.Well, I forgot if I told you, but this year we've some splendid things by Osbert Sitwell, Bertrand Russell, Kenneth... oh, I did? So sorry.

The piece on Gurdjieff in this issue written Kenneth Walker (author and urologist 1882-1966) gives a flavour of the quality of the Saturday Book writing and also gives a feeling of the real Gurdjieff - as well as quietly putting the boot into 'fools' with brains full of information...

I have never met anyone who possessed more of that knowledge which cannot be found in books but can only come from experience than did Gurdjieff. There are men with encyclopaedic minds, so well furnished with facts that they are able to talk on almost any subject, but far from being wise, such men are often fools. They possess a mass of information, but little understanding of it, and are singularly lacking in wisdom. The knowledge of Gurdjieff was of an utterly different kind; it was knowledge that conferred on its possessor understanding and power. His ability to control himself and others was as obvious as was his knowledge. Gurdjieff never fumbled; everything he did, he did with the strictest economy of effort...

What was true of his movements seemed to be equally true of his emotions. When he displayed anger, as he not infrequently did, the anger served some definite purpose, and when this purpose had been achieved it was immediately laid on one side. It was ended as abruptly as it had begun and the talk that had been suddenly interrupted was quietly resumed. And Gurdjieff had conquered man's two worst enemies, anxiety and fear. He appeared to be fearless.

He was never an ascetic but lived life to its fullest, looking upon his body as his servant, and never allowing it to be master. In teaching, he often made use of the ancient allegory of man which likened him to a carriage, horse, and driver. The body was the carriage, the emotions the horse which drew the carriage, and the mind the driver who controlled the horse. But, he said, in ordinary men it was the body and the body's desires which really took charge of everything. Only the more fully developed man was the driver in control of his horse, and seated by his side was an entirely new figure. This was the master who gave orders where the driver was to go, and the driver understood and obeyed him. Gurdieff was such a man as this, a man who had developed qualities which others do not possess.

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