An impressionistic presentation of the life and work of
René Daumal, avant-garde author and poet.

We chose a room which could hold about 40 people. We wished to create an intimate café atmosphere - conducive to the sharing of ideas with a small audience. The performers were seated amongst the audience at round tables in café style, to encourage some intimacy.

The programme began with an introduction to the life and work of René Daumal, a French writer born in 1908 who was influenced firstly by the surrealist movement in Paris in the 1920’s, and then by Hinduism. The turning point in his life came in 1930 when he met someone who made an extraordinary impression on him; Alexandre de Salzmann - a pupil of the holistic philosopher and teacher, G. I. Gurdjieff. Here he found a teaching which spoke to his need to question and his belief that there was something higher and finer to be sought for in life. He remained active in groups dedicated to Gurdjieff’s teaching until his death in 1944.

The evening included: improvisations based on Daumal’s surrealist group Le Grande Jeu and on his essay The Life of the Basils; music, including pieces by Ravi Shankar and Thomas de Hartmann; and poetry.

The evening culminated in a reading of edited extracts from Daumal’s magnum opus: Mount Analogue, an allegory of man’s search for meaning in a higher part of himself.

René Daumal (1908-1944)

René Daumal
(1908-1944)

“In the mythic tradition the Mountain is the bond between Earth and Sky. Its solitary summit reaches the sphere of eternity, and its base spreads out in manifold foothills into the world of mortals. It is the way by which man can raise himself to the divine, and by which the divine reveals itself to man.”

Mount Analogue, René Daumal