In the decades since George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff′s death, many books have been written about the man, and the teaching he brought to Europe and America from Central Asia. Since today many people′s first contact with this teaching is via the written word, the question naturally arises as to which of these books can best serve as an introduction to these ideas. His own masterwork, All and Everything: Beelzebub′s Tales to his Grandson, is somewhat difficult. His other two books: Meetings with Remarkable Men, and Life is Real Only Then, When I Am, while seemingly less difficult, present definite challenges of their own. Gurdjieff confides to the reader in the Introduction to Meetings with Remarkable Men: 
But since, little by little, I had become more adroit in the art of concealing serious thoughts in an enticing, easily grasped outer form, and in making all those thoughts which I term ′discernable only with the lapse of time′ ensue from others usual to the thinking of most contemporary people, I changed the principle I had been following and, instead of seeking to achieve the aim I had set myself in writing by quantity, I adopted the principle of attaining this by quality alone. (p.7)
Given the inherent difficulty of Mr. Gurdjieff′s writings, the question naturally arises as to whether any of the other written material that has grown out of his
legacy has the real stamp of authenticity? Of particular note in this regard is P.D. Ouspensky′s In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching,  which
for many people has served not only as an introduction to the ideas Mr. Gurdjieff brought, but an introductory guide to their practical application as well. However, given
Ouspensky′s early break with Gurdjieff, questions naturally arise as to how reliable Fragments is as an introduction to work on oneself. After all, the conversations
Ouspensky records - more than two-thirds of Fragments consists of direct quotes from Gurdjieff - took place in Russian almost a century ago. Yet Fragments is written in refined,
and rather philosophical English. Not only did Ouspensky have to remember his conversations with Gurdjieff - note-taking during meetings was forbidden - but he had to translate
his personal notes into a language that he learned late in life.
Fortunately we have published appraisals of Fragments from some of Mr. Gurdjieff′s most senior students. In a discussion of the Gurdjieff literature, Dr. Michel de Salzmann provided his strong endorsement: 
In an introduction to Jean Vayse′s book Toward Awakening, John Sinclair (Lord Pentland) - who worked closely with Ouspensky for about a decade, and with Gurdjieff at the end of the 1940s - provided his evaluation of Fragments: 
In addition, we have accounts by several people of the circumstances under which the decision to publish Fragments was made. C.S. Nott, who was a student of Gurdjieff′s for over thirty years, recorded an exchange with Ouspensky in the mid-1930s in his book Further Teachings of Gurdjieff: 
Later in the same book, Nott described the situation in the winter of 1948 when Gurdjieff first received a copy of the Fragments manuscript:
In his autobiography, Witness, John Bennett provided a first person account of Gurdjieff′s reaction to Fragments, based on his time with him in New York and Paris in 1949: 
Two additional accounts of meetings with Gurdjieff, during the last year of his life, shed more light - from a somewhat different perspective - on his evaluation of Fragments as an introduction to the teaching he brought.
Gurdjieff returned to America in December of 1949, and resumed the daily luncheons and dinners that he held in his rooms at New York′s Hotel Wellington during previous visits. Louise March kept a journal during the visit, and her recollections were later published by one of her students, from which the following is drawn: 
Gurdjieff returned to Paris in February of 1949, and resumed meetings in his apartment. Elizabeth Bennett kept a journal of her time in Paris during the summer of 1949, which
years later she published, together with her husband John Bennett′s journal of that time period, as Idiots in Paris. She states in the Foreword that, "I have added
nothing to the text, but I have cut out one or two passages too personal to be of interest to anyone but the writer, and one or two details of Gurdjieff′s illness and
treatment. Apart from these small deletions, the manuscript is untouched."
Her straight-forward narrative of events in Mr. Gurdjieff′s apartment during the last summer of his life contains many references to the readings that formed part of the daily routine: 
In A Study of Gurdjieff′s Teaching, published in 1957, Kenneth Walker provided another account of Gurdjieff′s reaction to the Fragments manuscript: 
However, later in the same book, Dr. Walker provided another perspective on the teaching as transmitted by Ouspensky, one that sheds yet another light on Fragments:
Similar recollections are found in an interview with Dr. Meredith Thring in London in 2001:
What I want to say more than anything is that I worked with Ouspensky and Bennett for about twelve years if not thirteen, the end of ′37 to ′48, eleven years.
Ouspensky died and actually in 1949 I happened to be in America and they immediately published, Mme. Ouspensky published In Search of the Miraculous which Ouspensky had refused
to publish because of Gurdjieff′s book.
The point was with Ouspensky, it was in effect philosophical knowledge we got really. You knew you had ′many ′I′s′, you knew that you couldn′t DO and that you had to ′not express′ negative emotions and so on and we worked on these things all those years. And we had all the diagrams that are in In Search of the Miraculous and there was quite a lot to go on, but somehow it was all hopeless. There was no hope there, you couldn′t do, but when we went to Paris it was entirely different, it was like going into a different world, a world in which negative emotions and trivial things... they just weren′t there. It was like a world where you were free of all that. You were just concerned with work. We started doing the movements and I am hopeless at the movements because I am totally un-musical but I got enough of them to realize what kind of work, what kind of control of attention, complete control of attention in all the centres is necessary for that. So I got a taste for what that means.
The most important thing I got from Paris was the idea of sensing your body, and also sitting quietly and sensing your limbs and so on. And even then I got the sense of opening oneself and freeing oneself from the thoughts that go on all the time and the associations in the moving centre and the associations in the intellectual centre, being free of these. So I got a taste of what it is all about. And I got hope, there was a message of hope, always. It wasn′t ′cannot do′ it was trying to do work. The impression I got of Mr. Gurdjieff was entirely different from the impression I had from Ouspensky and Bennett; it was the impression that I can only describe as Universal Benevolence. He really wanted you and me, everybody, to be influenced towards developing themselves as a result of being in contact with him and his emanations. This was very, very strong and it has been with me ever since.
Because Mme. Ouspensky, the moment Ouspensky died, rang up Bennett and the people at Lyme Place and so on and said "Go over to Mr. Gurdjieff at such and such an address" and so they did. And Gurdjieff apparently said that he was delighted with Ouspensky; he said "Now he is my friend" because he had seen... In Search of the Miraculous. It is marvelous we have got two different formulations of his teaching. Some of them disagree quite a lot. The Moon for example in In Search of the Miraculous is the growing tip of creation - in Beelzebub it is an awful mistake. But they do together produce a very powerful impression, and it′s very important, that′s what I am glad to do in my book is to put them together from references to things from both books and from all the others, from Views From the Real World and so on. It is so important that you don′t just have one verbal formulation you have different verbal formulations which apparently at first sight disagree and that′s the way you get towards something real. I think we are incredibly fortunate to have had Mr. Gurdjieff.
All I know is that I didn′t get the feeling from Ouspensky that there was a way through and I did get it from Gurdjieff.
And I think the point about this, you see, Ouspensky was a journalist and he could write quite well and clearly and be easy to understand from that point of view. Gurdjieff deliberately made his book very difficult, sentences a whole page long so that you′ve got to puzzle over it. You′ve got to be persistent with it.
Question: Do you think the hopelessness that you say Ouspensky brought, that there was no hope, you couldn′t do anything, this is very strong in Fragments and he reports it as coming from Gurdjieff. I just wondered, do you think this feeling of hopelessness is coming from Ouspensky all the time, or, do you feel Gurdjieff′s teaching changed a great deal from the beginning?
Professor Thring: I don′t think it changed, no. I think it was Ouspensky′s caste of character that is in that book. I don′t believe Gurdjieff ever taught that it is hopeless.
Question: And yet Gurdjieff was pleased with Fragments, wasn′t he?
Professor Thring: Oh yes, because Fragments is a very clear account of the theory so to speak, beautifully written and it adds a lot to the knowledge and I think that Beelzebub′s Tales contains far more if you can get down to it. Far more, in fact when he, in the Second Series, keeps promising to put a whole lot of things in the Third Series, it is my view that they are in here, hidden away deeply. For all those things he says he will write about, he has written about and they are hidden away.
Question: Do you think he has animated a feeling of hope when he was in Russia... do you think he had that feeling then?
Professor Thring: I′m sure he had because the message he came back from was: there is a way! That was his message. There is a way and I
think I am going to try and communicate it to you. You see this is where religions fall down in my opinion, they don′t tell you a way.
...this is very interesting because under Ouspensky it was ′Remember Yourself′ but when we got to Paris it was ′Do I Am.′ This is a fact!
There is one other commentary on Fragments that speaks frankly to Ouspensky′s contribution, and to the question of completeness. In the 1950s, Sri Anirvan, a Baul master in the Samkhya tradition sent one of his students, a French woman, Lizelle Reymond, back to Europe to find the students of Gurdjieff. In To Live Within, an extraordinary account of her time with Sri Anirvan, she compiled material from his letters and notes of her conversations with him, which he revised before his death in 1978. The following extracts are from that material: 
Tantric teaching demonstrates that all life is born from the Void - the Gods and Goddesses, the higher and the lower prakriti. The Void is the matrix of universal energy.
One has access to it by four stages. In his book In Search of the Miraculous, Ouspensky speaks about the first two stages. He remained silent about the last two because he had left Gurdjieff. In all of his subsequent personal teaching, which is very important, he tells of the development of these first two stages and of his experiences with his Master. The writings of Gurdjieff, on the other hand, open for us the frontiers of the two last stages. These are cleverly hidden in his mythical narrations.
The four stages are (p. 194):
...Gurdjieff had this lightly tinted whiteness. He never stopped playing with all the colors of life; that is why fools cry out against him. Ouspensky, who was a philosopher, tried
to stay in the whiteness he had discovered; but if you are the disciple responsible for the kitchen, your duty is to prepare the food. If you refuse to do this, you will be sent
away by the Master, or you will leave of your own accord and your refusal will be a weight that will burden you for years and possibly even crush you. (p. 257)
All spiritual experiences are sensations in the body. They are simply a graded series of sensations, beginning with the solidity of a clod of earth and passing gradually, in full consciousness, through liquidness and the emanation of heat to that of a total vibration before reaching the Void. The road to be traveled is long. (p. 231)
We might consider also that by Mr. Gurdjieff′s own account, he was not the original source of the teaching he brought: 
He received a traditional teaching formulated within the cultures and languages of the Middle East and Central Asia, and having embodied that teaching, undertook a cultural and linguistic translation and transmission into a Western scientific cultural milieu - first into Russian, later English and French. Ouspensky was one of the students who helped with the translation into Anglo-American culture and language. Of course, Gurdjieff was one step closer to the source, and was by all accounts possessed of greater being - a real Master. But Ouspensky mastered the written English language to a remarkable degree, had an orderly mind and a philosophical bent, and worked for almost half his life at transmitting what he had received from Gurdjieff to thousands of students via lectures, the written word, and group meetings.
In the final pages of Fragments, Ouspensky describes a conversation with Gurdjieff in Constantinople in 1920:
It seems likely that this was the genesis of In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, and this account suggests that Gurdjieff had authorized such an introduction in advance, some 30 years earlier. If so, then the apparent differences between the ideas and language of Fragments and All and Everything may be more apparent than real, with one a very well organized and carefully structured introduction, the other a complete mytho-epic statement of the teaching. Of course the two works are not on the same level, but the evidence suggests that Fragments was considered by Gurdjieff an authentic introduction to the ideas he brought from the East. Even when he must have known in 1949 that he was dealing with his last group of students - the ones who would assume responsibility for the teaching - first-person accounts suggest that he sometimes had them listen to chapters from the manuscript of Mr. Ouspensky′s introduction.