Moderated by Time magazine’s Lev Grossman, the speakers discussed a range of ideas, including Dan Brown’s skill at weaving contemporary moral dilemmas into his narrative and also the suggestion that, despite the sneering of many literary critics, The Lost Symbol may be one of the most important works of American literature to emerge in the past few years.
A forgotten Robert Frost manuscript recently turned up in the basement of a Masonic lodge in Methuen, Mass. It’s not a poem or an essay, but rather an attendance book Frost kept while teaching eighth grade at the Second Grammar School in Methuen in 1893. City officials say the book is somewhat the worse for wear, The Boston Globe reported, and they’re applying for a $3,000 grant to restore and rebind it. The entries are apparently all in Frost’s hand as he painstakingly ticked off, day by day, who showed up and who didn’t. At the time Frost himself was only 17, or just a few years older than his pupils, and a recent dropout from Dartmouth College, where he hadn’t even finished his first semester. But teachers didn’t need credentials in those days, and besides, Frost had pull: his mother also taught at Second Grammar. Teaching was the family business. Frost’s father was a teacher and a journalist, and after his death Frost’s mother, who had been a teacher, supported the family by returning to the classroom. She even opened her own private school in Salem, N.H., and, not surprisingly her son, who was already writing and publishing poetry but needed a day job, was hired there too.
But the Times report didn’t indicate any reason why this artifact of the great American poet’s early life would have been found in a Masonic lodge. (In fact, it appears from some accounts that the attendance record was found in the Masonic lodge 20 years ago and has been stored in Methuen’s City Hall since then).
Frost is not listed on any of the web databases that seek to index “famous Masons.” However, Frost’s Mending Wall poem (“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”) has connoted an affection for stonemasons and the art of wall building to some literary critics. And a number of Masonic writers have used Frost’s The Road Not Taken (“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference”) as a literary allusion to the difficult path of those on a quest for knowledge and meaning, and for the path of Freemasonry itself.
There is no indication Frost was a Mason, but we’d appreciate hearing from anyone who has a clue as to why this news-making attendance record in Frost’s hand showed up in a Masonic lodge or other thoughts on this bit of history.
Secrets of the Lost Symbol co-editor Dan Burstein appeared recently on World Talk Radio’s Be The Star You Are.
In a wide-ranging interview, Dan discusses how our Secrets team correctly predicted some of the major themes of The Lost Symbol, years before it was published, and some of the many interesting facts we discovered about the history of Freemasonry, its links to American history, and its influence on Washington DC architecture.
He also talks about our discoveries from exploring a central element of Dan Brown’s novel, noetic science, and the spiritual and material issues noetics raises in people’s search for meaning in life.
In Washington DC and the Freemasons, he talks about Washington sites covered in Secrets of the Lost Symbol, such as the House of the Temple, the Capitol Rotunda, the Library of Congress, the Washington Monument, the George Washington National Masonic Memorial and the National Cathedral.
In Codes on the Lost Symbol Cover, he reveals and explains more of the codes hidden on The Lost Symbol jacket and inside the book, as well as exploring the meaning of a few of Dan Brown’s characters’ names.
Finally, in Contributors, Dan talks through the more than three-dozen expert contributors to Secrets of The Lost Symbol, highlighting some of our interviews and essays that shed new light on Freemaonsry, noetics and the ways in which The Lost Symbol connects with religion and spirituality today.
In this video, Secrets of The Lost Symbol co-editor Dan Burstein discusses how a member of the Secrets team, investigative journalist Dave Shugarts, predicted that Dan Brown’s sequel to the Da Vinci Code would be set in Washington DC against the backdrop of the Masons. He also talks about some of the many interviews and essays found in Secrets of The Lost Symbol that explore Washington’s Masonic history, secret societies, architecture and institutions.
A post from Dan Burstein, Co-Author of Secrets of the Lost Symbol:
2009 has been an important year for 200th birthdays—Lincoln and Darwin in particular. Two other 200th birthday celebrants are also of interest with regard to The Lost Symbol and the cosmological ideas and, in particular, the Freemason history that is at the heart of the Dan Brown novel: Edgar Allan Poe and Albert Pike. Today, we will give Poe a little consideration. Look for a post on Pike on his birthday—December 29.
There are a variety of fascinating resonances between Poe’s life and work, and the ideas and philosophy expressed by Dan Brown in The Lost Symbol.
Poe, is a great American writer and a highly original thinker. He is best known today for his novels and poems, including The Raven, written in the mystery and horror genres. Many American students read Poe’s famous short story, The Cask of Amontillado, in middle school or high school. Yet few will realize, or be told by their teachers, that The Cask of Amontillado has Freemasonry and also anti-Mason history at the heart of it.
For an intriguing insight into the meaning of the Freemasonry at the heart of Cask, see this paper by Robert Con Davis-Undiano, Executive Director of World Literature Today and the Neustadt Professor of Comparative Literature and Presidential Professor of English at The University of Oklahoma:
Secrets of The Lost Symbol editor Dan Burstein talks through some of the codes and cryptic clues left for Dan Brown’s readers on the cover of, and inside, The Lost Symbol. It’s a trail that led our Secrets team to a number of intriguing topics, such as the year 2012 and the Book of Revelations.