"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Friday, November 29, 2019

Kamel Oussayef's Book 'Saint Edoüard' Brings 1748 Paris Lodge To Life

In previous posts, I have mentioned two earlier books translated by Illustrious Brother Kamel Oussayef from French into beautiful English language editions for the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction: The Book of Wisdom (2013) and The Spirit of Freemasonry (2017). Both were originally written in the early 1800s by Jean Frédérique Doszedardski, a Polish member of French lodges in Paris, and eventually, New Orleans. They are filled with early descriptions of hauts grades (higher degree) rituals, different customs, lodge practices, even table lodges. These books are unique in that they present photographic reproductions of the original French document on one page, and the parallel English translation with copious footnotes on facing pages.

As you plump up your Christmas gift list, don't neglect the new Masonic books that have come out in 2019. The third book in this series comes from an earlier original document. Saint Edoüard: A 1748 Masonic Scottish Lodge During the French Enlightenment. It was published back in February of this year, and it uses the same format as the previous volumes, although this one is somewhat shorter in length. Nevertheless, it is just as packed with fascinating details as its companions. I have been remiss in not mentioning it until now, but that's not for lack of enthusiasm over it. Quite the contrary. 

This isn't just a translation of creaky lodge minutes from 270 years ago. It also contains descriptions of the lodge's early members, their professions, and notes about their lives. All of a sudden, dull lists of forgotten names come alive, and you can see what a huge cross section of Paris society were members of the fraternity at that time - still 30 years before their first revolution. Kamel Oussayef's extensive notes help to place the lodge, the rituals, the practices and the lives of these brethren in their social and historical context. 

As you read these three books and their voluminous footnotes, you are witnessing the genesis in France of what eventually morphed into what we know as the Scottish Rite today. Saint Edoüard's foundational documents and minutes describe the genesis of a Eccosais (Scottish) Masonic lodge in Paris in 1748. The Jacobite supporters of the Stewart's in exile in France had just failed in yet another (and final) attempt to regain the English throne after invading Scotland in 1745. Saint Edoüard Lodge sat poised between the sputtering decline of the Jacobites and the beginnings of the French Revolution in 1789. Some members of the lodge would join the Revolution, some with the Royalists. Some went to the guillotine, and some fled the country into exile. The lodge was truly a microcosm of Paris in the mid-18th century.

All three of these endlessly fascinating works are the result of the painstaking translations and research of Illus. Brother Kamel Oussayef, 33°and the sponsorship of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite - Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. He has volunteered at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library in Lexington since 2003. Thanks to his his detective work and dedication to bring these long-hidden manuscripts to light, the NMJ has become likewise dedicated to publishing these important early works that help us discover how and why the higher degrees developed in France 
during this period. Moreover, Kamel brings alive the Masons themselves who were members these lodges by unearthing their lives, occupations, lodgings, and habits. These are not dry histories, they are personal ones.

Kamel is a Past Master of William Parkman Lodge and Converse Lodge. He has been awarded the prestigious Henry Price and Joseph Warren medals for distinguished service to Freemasonry in Massachusetts. In the AASR, he is an Assistant Master of Ceremonies with the Massachusetts Consistory of the Valley of Boston.

Brother Oussayef was born in Sétif, Algeria and attended school in France, where he lived for many years. He holds an MA from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and an MS from the School of Public Communications at Boston University.

All of these books are available from the AASR-NMJ online shop along with the NMJ's tremendous edition of the Francken Manuscript. These books are loving examples of the book publishing arts, of the very highest quality, and well worth the investment.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will not appear immediately, so be patient. I am forced to laboriously screen every post because I am constantly bombarded with spam. Anonymous postings on Masonic topics have the same status as cowans and eavesdroppers as far as I am concerned. If you post with an unknown or anonymous account, do not expect to see your comment appear.