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New and Old Works on Russian Freemasonry

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New and Old Works on Russian Freemasonry

Raffaella Faggionato

Over the last few years, a number of labyrinthine works have been published on

the history of Russian Freemasonry. Many are superficial accounts that talk in

stereotypes and heap new legends onto old. Consequently, it is a real pleasure

when serious studies on the topic appear. Douglas Smith’s Working the Rough

Stone and Andrei Serkov’s extensive three-volume study Istoriia russkogo masonstva

are two of the most comprehensive. The latter was published by the plucky

Izdatel′stvo imeni N. I. Novikova of St. Petersburg in the series "Russian

Masonry: Materials and Research," alongside a new edition of Vernadskii’s

influential study on Russian Masonry during the time of Catherine the Great.

Vernadskii’s work is a historiographical classic that deals with the initial spread of

the Masonic Order in 18th-century Russia. The most important changes to the

original edition are the accurate updating of the archive, bibliography, and

commentary. These works stimulate a constructive debate about a part of

modern culture that, three centuries after its foundation, is still surrounded by

legend and suspicion. Russian Freemasonry remains a riddle that historians have

been unable to unravel...

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