Review: Introduction to the Modern Rite

This book was initially published in Spanish late last year by the productive and relatively young Brazilian Freemason Gustavo Vernaschi Patuto (1980-). Patuto is part of a group of Southern American Masonic investigators into what they call the “Modern Rite”.

The book uses the word “Modern” in three ways which sometimes appear to be used as synonyms. First there is “Modern” as the Freemasonry after 1717, the foundation of the first Grand Lodge. Then there is “Modern” as the counterpart of the “Antients” who founded their own Grand Lodge in 1751 because of innovations made by the premier Grand Lodge. Then there is the European continental development into secular Freemasonry after 1872 towards the “French” or “Modern” Rite.

The book starts with a general history of Freemasonry. Here and there the author seems to be somewhat firmer on some ideas than other investigators. You can read about the transition from operative to speculative Freemasonry, the development of the third degree, the Antients and the Moderns and then of course the secular French development. Then we move to Brazil to follow the development of Freemasonry there and how the study of Brazil’s Masonic history has taken a flight.

The book is either translated by an automatic translator and/or by a non-native-speaker. This results in strange sentences and odd word-choices such as “Old” for “Antient”, “great lodge” for “grand lodge”, “tomes” for “volume” or “Union Centre” for “Centre of Union”. Also the names of organisations are sometimes (partly) translated.
David Harrison wrote one of the forewords, he may have proofread the manuscript as well.

The concept of the “Modern Rite” may need a bit more explanation too. Towards the end there is a list of “Modern” lodges and the lodges of the Grand Orient of the Netherlands is listed together with those of the Grand Orient of France and Belgium. The Grand Orient of the Netherlands rituals may have French influences (but also German), but the rituals of this “regular” Grand Orient” are not “secular”. It may be an idea to be clearer what “Modern Rite” actually refers to.

In any case, it will help the English version if a native speaker made some suggestions. For the book in general the author might ask around to improve some information. For a starter, though, the book makes a great introduction into Brazilian Freemasonry for the non-Spanish or Portuguese reader. There is a massive list of lodges, there is history, there is a history of the Brazilian Hipólito José da Costa Pereira Furtado de Mendonça and his role in the foundation of early Freemasonry, so the English reader will certainly get new information.

Then there is also a sketch of Brazilian Masonic scholarship, tips on how to lead a lodge, so in spite of needed improvements, the book makes a worthy read.

Available from Amazon.

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