Synopses & Reviews
Based on twenty years of research and personal interviews, Kathleen Rosenblatt's book is the first to comprehensively cover all aspects of the life and work of Rene Daumal, seminal writer of the metaphysical avant garde. As an individual, Daumal was seen by those who knew him as a modern proto-saint with a blazing intellect and wit; as a writer, he was the first to forge a mystical link between classical Hindu poetics and the revolutionary views of Gurdjieff, synthesized in surrealist style.
Originally published in French, this revised English edition shows why many feel that Daumal's literary group, Le Grand Jeu was a brief, but more authentic voice of the French avant-garde circa 1930 than the more established Surrealist movement. While still in his teens, he placed himself at the crossroads of powerful converging influences: Hinduism, Surrealism, Marxism, Freudianism, and parapsychology, but the strongest influence was the fiery internal cauldron of his own lifelong spiritual struggle. At sixteen, Daumal began to teach himself Sanskrit and to decipher the essence of Hindu philosophy and poetics, but it was the teaching of Gurdjieff that truly changed his life, giving him an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the human being and of the entire cosmos.
Rosenblatt traces all these influences and experiences as they reveal the depths of Daumal's being, and as they surface in his poetry, Le Contre-ciel, and in his two short novels, A Night of Serious Drinking and Mount Analogue. Today, Daumal's personal vision of the Infinite and the story of his quest are more timely and essential than ever.