Sunday Lit Crit Sermon #81: Orson F. Whitney on the Essence of Poetry

OFWhitneyTo a large extent, theory is definition. A theory of literature is therefore definition of its many elements and how they work together to allow the creation of literature. And as far as I can tell, before Orson F. Whitney, few Mormons attempted anything near a theory of literature. A few definitions of elements of literature appeared here and there, but no one covered as many elements of literature as Whitney.

In the following extract, also from the 5-part article he published in 1926, Whitney discusses poetry, and after rejecting  a common definition, he provides his own:

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Defining Godhead

There is a class of Mormon terms that Mormons use differently than everyone else, but whose definition we don’t realize is different. We are too often so caught up in our own culture that we don’t realize it is different from all the others. Godhead is certainly one of such words, and, in this case, the difference in definition is clearly rooted in our doctrine.

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Defining ‘Added Upon’

0--AddedUponOf all the words and phrases that are common in or unique to Mormonism, added upon is perhaps the most connected with a work of literature. Though perhaps infrequently used today in Mormon vernacular (except to refer to the book Added Upon), in the past it was frequently used in discussing Mormon doctrine, and it is still used today because it appears in scripture and refers to a key concept of that doctrine, one touched on in my recent definition of the Mormon use of the word exaltation.

Unlike exaltation, however, added upon is today almost exclusively Mormon.

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