Luc Dietrich – French writer (17 March 1913 – 1944) Dietrich was born in Dijon. His father died when he was very young, and his mother was ill and addicted to drugs. She was frequently incapable of taking care of her son; several times he was sent asylums and similar establishments. Shortly after Dietrich’s release from one at the age of 18, his mother died.
In 1932 Dietrich met philosopher and poet Lanza del Vasto at the Parc Monceau in Paris. The first thing del Vasto said to Dietrich was “Are you as good as this bread?” The two became inseparable friends for the rest of Dietrich’s short life. Lanza helped and mentored Dietrich in writing, although he always refused to be credited as a co-author. Another of Dietrich’s famous friends was poet René Daumal. After becoming lightly wounded during a bombardment in 1944, Dietrich developed hemiplegia and then gangrene, and died the same year.
He is best known today for his semi-autobiographical novel, Le Bonheur des tristes (“The Happiness of Sad People”).
Since 1938 Luc Dietrich took part in the groups organized by Jeanne de Salzmann on Gurdjieff’s behalf.
“In August, 1944, an old man, with a vaguely Oriental look, went out of his apartment at 6 Rue des Colonels-Renard and crossed the road of an agitated Paris in which the German occupation was preparing to pack their bags. He was on his way to a hospital room, where a young man of little more than thirty years was dying from complications of an infection from a wound incurred from an American bombardment. The young man’s name was Luke Dietrich, he had written two novels and was without doubt a very gifted student; the old man was George Ivanovic Gudjieff and, from most points of view, one could call him a master. The master and student looked at each other with speaking: there was much to say. Then the master placed into the trembling hand of the dying man a gift he had brought with him: an orange. (Meeting with a Remarkable Man: George Ivanovic Gurdjieff by Walter Catalano translated from Italian by Chuck Salvo)
In a written exchange between Luc Dietrich and Henri Tracol dating to 1943:
“L.D.: How do you know that Gurdjieff wishes you well?
H.T.: I feel sometimes how little I interest him–and how strongly he takes an interest in me. By that I measure the strength of an intentional feeling.” (Henry Tracol, “The Taste For Things That Are True”, p. 84, Element Books: Shaftesbury, 1994)