Publication History of G.I. Gurdjieff's Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson
Not long after his near-fatal automobile accident in 1924, Gurdjieff began work on what was to become Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. Some of the text he dictated, and some he wrote on automobile trips, in cafés or wherever he was able to work. With the assistance of Armenian and Russian pupils, a Russian typescript of the book was prepared, chapter by chapter, and then further edited by Gurdjieff; as many as ten re-typings were sometimes necessary.

As the book progressed in this way, an English translation was also begun by a number of those present at the Prieuré. Although it is not clear now who all those individuals were or what each contributed, the following is known. Thomas de Hartmann prepared a word-by-word interlinear translation by writing an English word above each Russian word in the typescript. Bernard Metz, probably working from the interlinear text, created a version of the text in English sentences and paragraphs. The well-known English editor A.R. Orage, who knew no Russian, relied on these preliminary drafts in order to create a more polished wording.

This work led to a draft English edition that, in 1931, was reproduced in a very limited number of copies. This translation, as well as the Russian text, was read aloud to Gurdjieff’s students, and his observation of their responses generated substantial changes that were integrated into final typescripts in English and in Russian.

German and French translations were also undertaken during Gurdjieff’s lifetime.

First Publications
Although the final English typescript was read to Gurdjieff’s pupils throughout the 1940s—and galley proofs were shown to him on his deathbed in 1949—Beelzebub’s Tales was first published only in 1950, a few months after Gurdjieff died. Despite objections that the book needed more work before being published, Gurdjieff had insisted that the moment for publication had come and that there was no time for further revision. The German text was translated from the English by Louise March; it was also published in 1950.

The French translation, after years of refinement under the direction of Jeanne de Salzmann, appeared in 1956.

Subsequent published translations in other languages—Japanese, Dutch and Spanish, for example—have been based on one or other of the three initial translations. Although unauthorized Russian translations of the 1950 English text have been in circulation in Russia for many years, Gurdjieff’s original typescript was published only in 2000.

In order to allow the Guide and Index to be used with other language editions of Beelzebub's Tales, we have developed Page Correlation Tables relating the 1950 English edition page numbers and the page numbers of other language editions.

The Two English Editions
At present, there are two English editions of Beelzebub’s Tales. The first edition, published in 1950, has been reprinted many times. In these reprintings, minor corrections were made, but the page numbering remained the same except in the three-volume paperback, in which each volume was separately paginated. 

The 1950 edition is currently available as a photographic facsimile of the original 1950 English edition from Two Rivers Press. Since the Two Rivers Press publication is a facsimile of the original 1950 English edition it does not include various minor corrections which were made in reprintings by earlier publishers after the original 1950 publication. The two missing paragraphs and the errata are now being included as a bound-in appendix to this edition.

The second English edition, published in 1992 by Penguin (New York and London, Viking Arkana), contains substantial revisions to the text, which resulted in an entirely new set of page numbers. To accommodate this development, a completely revised second edition of the Guide and Index is now available; it shows two sets of page numbers for each entry, the first set matching the first edition and its reprintings and the second set, the second edition (and its reprintings).

In 1999 a newly reset one volume paperback edition was issued by Penguin Arkana. This edition follows the 'original' 1950 text and page numbering with the following differences: 1) all the well-known errata have been corrected, including the restoration of the two missing paragraphs on page 568. These have been accommodated by shifting a few lines in the surrounding pages, thereby ensuring that private study notes remain valid; 2) the text is set in a larger, more readable font on slightly larger pages. The correction of errata has been done with careful reference to the source manuscripts in Russian.

Reprintings between 1950 and 1999
Since only minor revisions were made in the text (typographic errors, etc.) in these reprintings, the second edition of the ‘Guide and Index’ can be used with any such reprints as well as to the 1992 edition, which has a substantially different text.

In the three-volume paperback edition, published in New York, by Dutton, in 1973 and in London, by Routledge in 1974 (neither edition is now in print), the three volumes were separately paginated. To assist those who may still own this three volume paperback or who use editions in other languages, Page Correlation Tables tables are available on this website for all editions of Beelzebub's Tales except the “unauthorized” Russian editions. Most of these tables have also been included in the Guide and Index.

Publications in Languages Other Than English (Latest Edition)