Tuesday on the NPR program The Takeaway, the question of the day was triggered by the addition of the word Ballardian to dictionaries, referring to the author J. G. Ballard, who died this past weekend. Since they asked “Which authors deserve adjectives?” I thought it might be interesting to ask the question, “Which Mormon Authors deserve adjectives?”
It seems to me that to justify an adjective, the author’s work needs some aspect that is unique or unusual. We know what it means when something is Kafkaesque or Orwellian. The author also needs to be well known enough that using the word has some currency.
There are a few Mormon authors that fit the bill, I think. Here are a few of the adjectives that I will consider using:
- Andersonian: Relating a story in a straight-forward, plot-driven manner, while embedding a gospel message or discussion into the dialogue of the story, after the manner of Nephi Anderson. [The nice thing about this definition is that it occurs so often today in the stories in LDS Church publications.]
- Maxwellian: Using repeated alliteration, assonance or consonance throughout a talk, discourse or other work in the manner of Elder Neal A. Maxwell.
- Monsonian: Including repeated short, minimalist sentences that highlight the resolution of a story, as in the style of President Thomas S. Monson.
There are also a few that I’ve rejected simply because I can’t see any distinctive style that might give rise to using the author’s name as an adjective. For example, I don’t think we’ll be using Snovian (i.e., Eliza R. Snow), even though I love the sound of the word, because I can’t figure anything about her work that would allow me to define Snovian clearly. And try as I have, I don’t know Orson Scott Card‘s work well enough to define Cardian.
No doubt readers here will find holes or errors in the definitions above, and I look forward to the corrections you have. Even better, I look forward to the additional adjectives you come up with.