Anna Ilinishna Butkovsky: an aristocrat and aspiring pianist. Born in 1885, she was the younger daughter of an eminent St. Petersburg barrister. She studied at the Conservatoire, hoping for a career as a concert pianist.

In 1915 she attended a lecture by P. D. Ouspensky at the Theosophical Society (Ouspensky had joined the Society in 1907 but left after meeting Gurdjieff). In 1917, having been replaced in Ouspensky’s affections by Sophie Grigorievna, she married Englishman Charles Hewitt.

The couple left Russia during the Revolution. In Paris she opened a fashionable dress salon and later became an antiques dealer in both Paris and later in London. In 1978 she published With Gurdjieff in St. Petersburg and Paris. Recounting her meetings with and affection for Ouspensky, she said, “When, in later years, we were to meet again in Berlin, in Paris and London, he had developed a hard outer shell, and I wondered then why he had crushed the gentle, poetic radiance of his St. Petersburg days. Possibly he thought of this side of himself as a weakness, yet it was in this happy mood that his inspiration and vision were strongest: the intellect had nothing to do with it.”

Articles and books:

Dancing  With Gurdjieff in St Petersburg and Paris

With Gurdjieff in St. Petersburg and Paris

Several quotations from this book:

Although there is no beginning in Truth, and no end, even no left or right, top or bottom. Those are all conventions invented by man, just as the watch with its dial does not represent “The Time” or Numen, not what we call “Time’or Phenomena”.


Truth is of such infinite power and strenght that we may think of it as like the apex crowing the pyramid of the world: a point which is already in contact the non-physical world, and with unknown, unexplored regions of other dimensions. Of these Lobachevsky spoke in discussing neo-Euclidean geometry. If we could imagine that some spiritual Hercules could reverse the pyramid, bringing its base into the air and the apex to the ground, this apex would be able to be the weight of the whole world.


Gurdjieff was sparing with his words; he constructed phrases as if for that time only. Our Russian peasants speak like that, and that is why Tolstoy used to like to talk to them -they thought and felt exactly as they spoke. Sometimes you had to ‘fish out’ the core of the real meaning in its wholes simplicity and strength, and in its natural form (like natural sugar), not subject to literary manipulation and adornment, which only serves to veil the truth. Truth needs no thinning down and dilution: it needs nothing at all except to be left alone. I think of those watery peaches in tins which have gone through the factory and compare them with the real thing, untouched and not ‘improved’ (some people will try to ‘improve’ even truth itself). Where has all their juice gone, that blessed health-giving juice? That is how it is with speech: gone is all the vigour, only the suave substitute remains, which is not at all satisfying, or should not be. Unfortunately in many cases it does satisfy.


One day I was sitting alone with Gurdjieff and as we were talking, he began to speak about myself. Gurdjieff said, ‘All the time you keep expecting some miracle to happen! Now,’ he went on, ‘I’ll tell you something. How is it that you know at certain times that you have your hat on crooked? By instinct? That’s an empty word. Try to think constructively about what I’m asking you. Although I did not feel sure of my words, still I found myself answering: ‘It’s a feeling of being uncomfortable – a sensation that something on my head isn’t right. Or it’s that one feels accustomed to a completely different sensation when it is on right! ” You must understand the reason, ‘Gurdjieff said, ‘for that feeling of discomfort. You must make tremendous efforts, even that you “jump over your head” – no less, ‘ he added with a sudden smile.’  Jump! Jump!..

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