"Gnosis Triology" by Boris Mouravieff, Translated into English Language by Manek D'Oncieu

Editor’s Note


History of this translation 


In May 1965, Mr. Lucas, on behalf of Mr. B. Mouravieff sent a letter to Mr. Barthold Fles, literary agent in New York, whom he knew through their common friend Mrs. De Bois. Mr. Lucas wrote him about the success of the Gnosis trilogy in its original French and asked him if he could help finding a publisher for the first two volumes which were translated to English and that the text was fully edited.


In July 1965, after a detailed correspondence between Mr. B. Mouravieff and Mr. B. Fles a contract was signed appointing Mr. Fles as literary agent for publishing the Gnosis trilogy in English both in The U.K. and the U.S.A.


Immediately after that Mr. Fles met Sir Stanley Unwin, director of Allen & Unwin, the most famous international editor at the time and discussed with him the publication of the English translation of the Gnosis trilogy. A preliminary agreement between Mr. Fles and Sir Stanley Unwin was reached, and a contract was drafted by Mr. B. Mouravieff. Sir Stanley commented on the draft contract by pointing out the difference between publishing in U.K-U.S.A by contrast with the Latin countries. He also advised that he must confer with the experts of the house and clarified that although he gave his personal agreement the final contract will not be signed except after their agreement.


Mr. Fles in his letter to Mr. B. Mouravieff hoped that by October 1965 the translation of the third volume would be completed and the reply of the experts announced. The negotiations of the contract continued on the basis of publication in U.K-U.S.A and according to the preliminary acceptance of Sir Stanley.


In September 1965, Mr. Fles received a letter from the editorial department at Stanley & Unwin informing him their regret that they cannot make an offer for the British rights. He wrote to Sir Stanley asking about the letter. Sir Stanley apologized for the way he was informed but confirmed that he cannot proceed with the publication of the English translation of Gnosis, and that the decision cannot be changed by any financial considerations which were already overcome, as everything in the final instance depends on their experts' opinion.


On the 21st of September 1965 Mr. Mouravieff wrote to Mr. Fles a long letter concerning new ideas to help him succeed in finding an editor to publish the English translation of the Gnosis trilogy.


On the 24th of September 1965 Mr. Mouravieff wrote to Mr. Fles explaining to him that the discussion of an eventual subvention prior to acceptance of the product was a "psychological error". He also advised that he was concerned about the manuscripts of the Gnosis translation volumes 1 and 2 which were returned by Sir Stanley to the U.S.A without a confirmation of registered express mail.


On the 14th of December, 1965 Mr. Mouravieff replied to Mr. Fles' letter concerning the proposal received from University Books to publish the Gnosis translation in a compressed format. His refusal was on the basis that the Doctrine presented in the book was already compressed to the limit. Several printing options were discussed but Mr. Mouravieff expressed that the publication of Gurdjieff's and Ouspensky’s voluminous works by University Books exemplify their ability to publish the Gnosis trilogy.


On December 23rd, 1965 Mr. Fles wrote to Mr. Mouravieff informing him that University Books accepted to publish the English translation of the Gnosis trilogy after his last letter which explained different issues concerning the complete Doctrine exposed in Gnosis versus the Fragments of an Unknown Teaching exposed in Ouspensky’s work.


On April 1st, 1966 the University Books expert decision was received stating that they admired volume 1 and 2 and that their final decision will be taken after the 3rd volume translation was received.


In the same vein, in February 1966 the Marquis D’Oncieu contacted Faber & Faber, publishers of the English translation of the Russian Philokalia, asking their authorization to translate the Philokalia to French directly from the English text and publish it under the banner of the Center of Esoteric Studies headed by Mr. B. Mouravieff. Moreover, he sent them copies of the Gnosis volume 1 English translation by Mrs. Lucas and volume 2 by Manek D’Oncieu. Faber and Faber refused the idea of translating the Philokalia to French from the English version although Mr. D’Oncieu explained to them that Mr. Mouravieff being of Russian origin was able to compare the French text with the original Russian, and that although it was practically impossible to render the old poetic Russian style yet, up to that time, he had not found any mistranslation. Faber and Faber also advised that they had no room at the time for the Gnosis trilogy on their list.


On the 8th of April, 1966 Mr. Mouravieff wrote to Mr. Fles advising him that the 3rd volume's translation was already finished and that it would be sent to him by the 15th of July as it needed much precision in its revision and typing. He also suggested to Mr. Fles to present the article titled “Ouspensky, Gurdjieff and the Fragments of an Unknown Teaching” which was already translated by Manek D’Oncieu to the expert of University Books to publish it in the form of a brochure at the same time with Gnosis. This would help a rapid distribution of the Gnosis translation.


This was the last letter sent by Mr. B. Mouravieff to Mr. Fles before his demise in September 1966.


After her late husband Mrs. Larissa Mouravieff pursued the matter further with Mr. Fles, and in her last letter in 1969 she informed him that she had the three translated  volumes in her possession and requested him to pursue his efforts towards their publication.


These three volumes of Gnosis were translated to English, by Mrs. Lucas who translated volume 1 and Manek D’Oncieu who translated volumes 2 and 3 and moreover revised the translation of volume 1 at the recommendation of the English publishing houses during their negotiations. This brief history brings to evidence that this translation is the only available translation of the Gnosis trilogy in the English language, duly approved by Mr. B. Mouravieff himself and furthermore sent by him to several editors for publication in order to introduce Gnosis to the English reader.


The reason for publishing it now together with the article titled “Ouspensky, Gurdjieff and the Fragments of an Unknown Teaching” also translated by Manek D’Oncieu, after nearly 50 years of their finalization is firstly simply to answer to the author's adamant trials and his request per his last letter to Mr. Fles, and secondly because we are firmly convinced that all what was left fragmentary and dangerously truncated in Ouspensky and Gurdjieff’s Teachings (as evidenced by the very title of Ouspensky's major work: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching) in fact receives the fullness of its completion in the authorized works of Mr. Boris Mouravieff. 


In the year 1992 Dr. Fouad Ramez received a letter from Mr. Boris Volkoff, the sole heir of Mr. Boris Mouravieff, telling him that he had in his possession the only available authentic English translation of the Gnosis trilogy. This translation was approved by Mr. B. Mouravieff himself during his life. He also advised that his late mother, Mrs. Larissa Mouravieff, tried several times after Mr. Mouravieff’s demise in September 1966 to publish these precious works but without success. .


Today, for the first time, after more than fifty years of the publication of the first volume of the Gnosis trilogy in its original French, we are publishing here the unique translation in English approved by the author himself. We are doing this without adding any commentary or notes whatsoever in order to keep the text in its original form without nuancing it in the least and therefore without biasing the reader in the least. This translation was received from Mr. Volkoff shortly after his visit to Egypt in 2006.


We believe, GOD willing, that this publication will prove to be an invaluable tool in the hands of anyone in need of it