por Orson Peter Carrara

Documentary research invalidates assumptions about adulterations

Carlos Seth Bastos (photo) is a retired electronic engineer in the city of Jacareí, in the Brazilian state of São Paulo. He is also a researcher and the president of the Amor a Jesus (Love to Jesus) Spiritist Centre. We spoke to him about his historical research work, focusing mainly on the controversy surrounding possible adulterations in the books of Allan Kardec. 

Can we say, based on your research, that it was Kardec himself who did the changes to Genesis, which were later misinterpreted as adulterations? 

Exactly! The misunderstanding began when Simoni Privato, the author of “The Legacy of Allan Kardec,” was unable to find one particular edition of Genesis to conclude her research. During her studies, she found an important document, the print declaration of February 1869. Thanks to her, we found out that about a month before the death of Kardec, the printing works recorded, in his name, a notice to the French government saying it was about to begin printing 2,000 copies of Genesis. Privato also showed that the fourth edition of the book was published in 1868 and the fifth edition, only in 1872. So the question was: which edition was then published in 1869 according to Kardec’s request? In her book, she didn’t say, as she couldn’t find any evidence of a new edition of Genesis published in 1869. That meant that her investigation remained inconclusive.

A posthumous publication can only be considered a fraud, or an adulterated text, if we are able to prove that the changes were not requested by the author. Privato tried to prove that. Being unable to get hold of the 1869 edition and check its content, she developed a legal interpretation and quoted legislation from 1810 to say that Kardec’s alterations were not legally binding. And she concluded that the content of the book had been improperly changed. She believed that the unknown 1869 edition was exactly like the fourth edition, which meant that Kardec wouldn’t have published or authorised the publication of the changes. Privato based her conclusions on a supposition, but many people have since adopted her interpretation as the indisputable truth.

What new elements have you discovered in your attempts to clarify the issue?

The 1869 edition of Genesis, the missing part of this puzzle, was located in February 2020 in a library in Switzerland. When I got hold of that copy, I was able to study and assess the last edition of the book as authorised by Kardec in the same way that Privato had researched the other editions. The book found in Switzerland is the first impression of the 5th edition and its content is exactly the same as that of the 5th edition published in 1872. That is the first evidence that goes against Privato’s assumptions. 

But the confusion persisted among some researchers, who believed that the print declaration of February 1869 referred in fact to the 4th edition. That is the same argument used by those who have tried to discredit the integrity of the 5th edition of 1869. They go against what Privato showed, that the 4th edition of Genesis had been published a year earlier, in 1868. I also checked the Imperial Decree of 1810 mentioned by Privato. Her assumptions couldn’t be confirmed. What she discovered, in fact, was that the printing works had broken the law. The controversy about the legal right to publish or not the 1869 edition, in the light of the legislation of the time, has no bearing on the relevant issue here, which is the authenticity of the book. That was the focus of the research. 

Also, other sources, based on historical documents, leave no doubt that the book was published by Kardec as he ordered. For example, in a letter dated from September 1868, he states very clearly that he had made alterations in the 5th edition and that 50% of the book had already been published, in order to be proofread [1]. I found more than 20 pieces of evidence that say the same thing. Some were circumstantial, but others were very robust evidence. 

There was a similar controversy regarding alleged adulterations in the 4th edition of Heaven and Hell. I also believe that these doubts over the book's authenticity were unsubstantiated. After all, that edition of the book was printed in February 1869, when Kardec was still alive, and it was published four months later. 

How were you able to find those documents? 

They were located through different sources. I’ll give you a brief description of how we found some of the most relevant documents. The first one was the 5th edition of Genesis, from 1869, which I mentioned before. It was found in the library of the University of Neuchâtel, in Switzerland, through a search on WorldCat, which is considered to be the world’s biggest digital research engine. The second one was the print declaration from February 1869, which is an official document sent by the printing works to the government to inform the authorities of their plans to begin printing a particular book. It was found by Simoni Privato in the French National Archives. A third piece of evidence was found by our colleague Charles Kempf in the Paris Municipal Archives and at the Leymarie Book Store and bought by the AKOL (Allan Kardec Online) Museum. It is an inventory by the Spiritist Book Store dated from 1873 showing that the 5th and 6th editions of Genesis are both from 1869 and that the 4th edition of Heaven and Hell was published in February 1869, when Kardec was still alive.

Where can those who are interested in historical documents find these items? 

Those who want to see the actual original documents will need to travel to Neuchâtel and Paris and also get in touch first with the AKOL Museum and FEAL (The André Luiz Foundation). For those who are happy with digital copies, they are available, along with my research, in several media: 

I. On social media: link-1  (buscar na lupa por #AG e #OCEOI) ou (search for "Investigação: O caso A Gênese", “As obras de Kardec foram adulteradas?”, “A Gênese e as novas descobertas” etc.);

II. At the AKOL Museum: (search for “Em respeito a Kardec, A Gênese investigada”);

III. In Jornal de Estudos Espíritas, in the following link-2.


[1] Kardec’s letter about Genesis: an analysis of a primary source, by Adair Ribeiro, Carlos Seth Bastos e Luciana Farias: to access click on  link-3



Leonardo Rocha -



O Consolador
 Revista Semanal de Divulgação Espírita