René Daumal

The Life and Work of a Mystic Guide

By Kathleen Ferrick Rosenblatt

Subjects: Biography
Series: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Paperback : 9780791436349, 290 pages, February 1999
Hardcover : 9780791436332, 290 pages, March 1999

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Table of contents


I Biography

1 An Anarchist of Perception

2 Daumal and Renunciation: The Imbecility of Individualism

3 Drug Experimentation: Asphyxia and Absurd Evidence

II The Pataphysical Pursuits

4 Surrealism and Le Grand Jeu: Living on the Pataphysical Edge

5 The Avant-Garde and Party Politics: Marginal Marxism

III Eastern Studies

6 The Influence of Hindu Thought: Renunciation and Transformation

7 Daumal in the Labyrinth of Pathways: The Influence of René Guénon

8 Daumal and Hindu Poetics: The Rasa of the Word

IV Gurdjieff and the De Salzmanns

9 Daumal with Gurdjieff and the de Salzmanns: Finding a Path

V Main Works

10 The Poetry of Le Contre Ciel: Death and Her Consort

11 La Grande Beuverie: A Night of Drunken Delusions

12 Mount Analogue: Non-Euclidian Mountain Climbing





Demonstrates how Rene Daumal, author of Mount Analogue, (a study of Hindu philosophy and poetics) and the teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff combined with Daumal's early surrealist tendencies in determining the quality of his writing.


Based on twenty years of research and personal interviews, Kathleen Rosenblatt's book is the first to comprehensively cover all aspects of the life and work of René Daumal, seminal writer of the metaphysical avant garde. As an individual, Daumal was seen by those who knew him as a modern proto-saint with a blazing intellect and wit; as a writer, he was the first to forge a mystical link between classical Hindu poetics and the revolutionary views of Gurdjieff, synthesized in surrealist style.

Originally published in French, this revised English edition shows why many feel that Daumal's literary group, Le Grand Jeu was a brief, but more authentic voice of the French avant-garde circa 1930 than the more established Surrealist movement. While still in his teens, he placed himself at the crossroads of powerful converging influences: Hinduism, Surrealism, Marxism, Freudianism, and parapsychology, but the strongest influence was the fiery internal cauldron of his own lifelong spiritual struggle. At sixteen, Daumal began to teach himself Sanskrit and to decipher the essence of Hindu philosophy and poetics, but it was the teaching of Gurdjieff that truly changed his life, giving him an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the human being and of the entire cosmos.

Rosenblatt traces all these influences and experiences as they reveal the depths of Daumal's being, and as they surface in his poetry, Le Contre-ciel, and in his two short novels, A Night of Serious Drinking and Mount Analogue. Today, Daumal's personal vision of the Infinite and the story of his quest are more timely and essential than ever.

Kathleen Ferrick Rosenblatt is a Doctor of Homeopathy and Oriental Medicine.


"It throws light on an at-present relatively unknown twentieth century literary figure whose writings have a great deal to offer to today's spiritual seeker, including the growing number of people interested in the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff. Full of interesting ideas and insights, it is the first serious and competent book in English about Daumal that deals responsibly with his connection to Gurdjieff. "--Jacob Needleman, San Francisco State University