COMPANION

F. M. Alexander’s writings

Articles, lectures and published letters

The 1995 compilation, Articles & Lectures, contains 16 articles and letters written before Alexander’s first book, Man’s Supreme Inheritance (1910); six letters published between 1924 and 1948; three lectures (of which two are reported almost verbatim) given between 1925 and 1949; teaching aphorisms – observations and instructions from lessons; a foreword and a chapter for an unfinished book, ‘Alexander and the Doctors’; and an autobiographical sketch covering Alexander’s first 35 years.[1]

Man’s Supreme Inheritance

This was Alexander’s first book; first published in 1910 (US and UK). It was followed by a booklet, ‘Man’s Supreme Inheritance Addenda’ (1911), and a small book Conscious Control (1912). These were revised and enlarged and incorporated into the 1918 edition of Man’s Supreme Inheritance. Minor changes to the 1918 edition were made for the last edition, the 1946 edition.[2]

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual

First published in 1923 (US), 1924 (UK), and it only underwent minor, insignificant changes to the last edition, in 1946.[3]

The Use of the Self

It was first published in 1932 (US and UK). Alexander changed his description of ‘primary control’ between the 1932 and 1946 editions. See Primary control. According to Irene Tasker The Use of the Self was started already around 1921.[4]

The Universal Constant in Living

It was first published in 1941 (US), 1942 (UK). A number of changes were made between the first and the last (1946) edition.[5]

Aphorisms

Alexander’s teaching aphorisms (observations and instructions from lessons) were written down by Ethel Webb. They were published in The Alexander Journal,[6] The Resurrection of the Body,[7] Articles & Lectures,[8] and then in a book of their own, Aphorisms.[9]

Compilations

  • The Resurrection of the Body (other editions titled Alexander Technique) edited by Edward Maisel contains edited selections from Alexander’s four books plus a selection of his aphorisms.[10]
  • Authorised Summaries of F. M. Alexander’s Four Books by Ron Brown is an approved-by-Alexander chapter-by-chapter summary made in the late 1940s by a journalist and pupil of the Technique.[11]
  • Alexander Technique: Original Writings of F. M. Alexander: Constructive Conscious Control by Daniel McGowan is an abridged and edited version of Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual.[12]

Later editions

After his death in 1955 a number of other editions, with their own changes, have been published. (The phrase ‘last edition’ above refers to the last edition Alexander authorised.) For an bibliography of all editions of Alexander’s books, see the Mouritz Bibliography.

In addition to the above, selections and extracts of F. M. Alexander’s writings have been published in books and journals.

Articles on Alexander’s writings

  • ‘Connecting Links’ by Irene Tasker contains a defence of Alexander’s writing style.[13]
  • ‘Some notes on the books of F. Matthias Alexander’ by Ian Mackrill (1967) is an assessment of Alexander’s books and is largely positive.[14]
  • ‘Educating the public’ by Elizabeth Langford contains a defence of Alexander’s writings.[15]
  • ‘Great writers of the Western world: F. M. Alexander’ by Catherine Kettrick; on reading Alexander, on analysing sentences, understanding each component of a sentence for the purpose of understanding the whole sentence.[16]
  • ‘On Alexander’s writing’ by Ted Dimon defends Alexander’s writing style, given Alexander was trying to explain his practical understanding and his sense of the broader implications of his work, a work which represents an entirely new field.[17]
  • ‘Making FM reader friendly’ by Michael Holt suggests that Alexander is difficult to read because of his ‘wordiness’, and suggests, by taking an example, how to make Alexander easier to read by shorter sentences and the cutting of some words.[18]
  • ‘Language development in Alexander’s writing and its relevance to the theory, research and practice of the Alexander Technique’ by Joe Armstrong argues for finding and agreeing upon fundamental concepts in the Technique for the purpose of defining the Technique.[19]
  • ‘Why it is so important to be familiar with Alexander’s books’ by Walter Carrington argues for the importance of Alexander Technique teachers to read Alexander’s books.[20]
  • ‘The principle of unity’ by Dan Armon; on the principle of unity in Alexander’s The Use of the Self and the structure of The Use of the Self.[21]
  • ‘Floating islands’ by Claire de Obaldia considers the utopian aspects of Alexander’s writings with reference and comparison to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Huxley’s Island.[22]
  • ‘Some thoughts on F. M. Alexander’s story of the evolution of the Technique’ by Jean M. O. Fischer considers the dates and timeline for Alexander’s development of the Technique. It also challenges some accounts which purport that Alexander fabricated his story of the discovery of the Technique.[23]

See also Criticisms of Alexander’s writings.

References

[1] Articles and Lectures by F. Matthias Alexander, edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 1995).
[2] ‘A note on the text’ by Jean M. O. Fischer in Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 1996), pp. xxxvi–xxxviii, 235–38.
[3] ‘A note on the text’ by Jean M. O. Fischer in Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual by F. Matthias Alexander, (Mouritz, 2004), pp. xxxviii–xl.
[4] ‘Connecting Links’ (1967) by Irene Tasker (The Sheildrake Press, 1978), p. 19.
[5] ‘A note on the text’ by Jean M. O. Fischer in The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), pp. xliv-xlviii.
[6] ‘Teaching aphorisms’ in The Alexander Journal no. 7 edited by Wilfred Barlow (STAT, 1972), pp. 41–48.
[7] The Resurrection of the Body by Edward Maisel (New York, University Books, 1969).
[8] Articles and Lectures by F. Matthias Alexander, edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 1995).
[9] Aphorisms by F. Matthias Alexander, edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2000).
[10] The Resurrection of the Body by Edward Maisel (New York, University Books, 1969).
[11] Authorised Summaries of F. M. Alexander’s Four Books by F. M. Alexander and Ron Brown (STATBooks, 1992).
[12] Alexander Technique: Original Writings of F. M. Alexander: Constructive Conscious Control by Daniel McGowan (Larson Publications, 1997).
[13] ‘Connecting Links’ (1967) by Irene Tasker (The Sheildrake Press, 1978).
[14] ‘Some notes on the books of F. Matthias Alexander’ by Ian Mackrill (Mouritz, 2019), PDF at the Mouritz Library, https://mouritz.org/library/articles/listing. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
[15] ‘Educating the public’ by Elizabeth Langford in The Congress Papers, 6th International Congress 1999 (STATBooks, 2001), pp. 231–257.
[16] ‘Great writers of the Western world: F. M. Alexander’ by Catherine Kettrick in The Congress Papers 1991, A Spirit of Learning Together edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1992), pp. 111–18.
[17] ‘On Alexander’s writing’ by Ted Dimon in The Alexander Review vol. 1, no. 2. (Centerline Press, 1986), pp. 8–12.
[18] ‘Making FM reader friendly’ by Michael Holt in Direction vol. 2, no. 6 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1998), pp. 29–31.
[19] ‘Language development in Alexander’s writing and its relevance to the theory, research and practice of the Alexander Technique’ by Joe Armstrong in STATNews vol. 5, no. 6 edited by Malcolm Williamson (STAT, January 2000), pp. 24-27.
[20] ‘Why it is so important to be familiar with Alexander’s books’ by Walter Carrington. A talk given at the Constructive Teaching Centre on 4th March 2005. First published in AmSAT News no. 69, Winter 2005. Also in An Evolution of the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington, Dilys Carrington (Sheildrake Press, 2017), pp. 111–16.
[21] ‘The principle of unity’ by Dan Armon in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation Vol. 1 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 20–24.
[22] ‘Floating islands’ by Claire de Obaldia in Connected Perspectives edited by Claire Rennie, Tanya Shoop, Kamal Thapen (HITE, 2015), pp. 89–104.
[23] ‘Some thoughts on F. M. Alexander’s story of the evolution of the Technique’ by Jean M. O. Fischer in AmSAT Journal no. 17 (AmSAT, Fall 2020), pp. 19–27.