Denis Saurat

Denis Saurat

Anglo­French littérateur

Denis Saurat (1890-June 7, 1958) was an Anglo-French scholar and writer, on a wide range of topics. His views on the connection in the early modern period between poetry, such as that of Edmund Spenser and John Milton, and the occult represented in particular by the Kabbalah, were ahead of their time: not surviving close scholarly analysis, they yet anticipated later studies such as that of Frances Yates.
 
After receiving a doctorate of the University of Bordeaux, and a lauréat des concours d'agrégation in 1919, he became associated with the Department of French at King's College London from 1920. He was director for many years of the French Institute of London.
 
He had met Gurdjieff at the Prieuré at Orage's suggestion and had been profoundly impressed. Saurat, a son of peasants, had a deep understanding of the rich current of life that, flowing under the glittering exterior, has almost nothing in common with this exterior—I mean the life of simple people, peasants and the middle classes who themselves are almost unconscious of it. He wrote about it in Gods of the People, The End of Fear, The Christ at Chartres; also, he had traced the influence of the occult tradition in English literature from Spenser to Milton and Blake. “A Visit to Gourdyev” by Denis Saurat was originally published in French as Visite à Gourdjieff. Denis Saurat visited the Prieuré for a weekend in February 1923. Saurat describes his contradictory impressions of Gurdjieff who appears alternately contemptuous, provocative, irritable then finally serious and "extraordinarily courteous." This skeptical article became raw material for subsequent skepticism about Gurdjieff among French intellectuals and journalists. Saurat later revised his opinion of Gurdjieff and his teaching and came to recognize Beelzebub's Tales as a major work. Beelzebub's Tales Fifty Years Later Commentary by Denis Saurat were issued.

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