While it seems clear that J. H. Paul’s defense of Utah and Mormon artists and educators in 1931 was inadequate, there is one area where I think he got things right. Literature, like culture, can take a very long time to develop. If European cultures took centuries to produce the first of the most significant works of their literature, how much can be expected of Utah, with its then 80 years of existence, or of Mormonism with its then 100 years of existence. To put it in today’s terms we might say: Can we really expect major works of literature from a group of related sub-cultures that are, collectively, less than 200 years old?
The defense of Utah and Mormon artists and educators offered by J. H. Paul in 1931 may have seemed slightly overblown when he talked of poetry (see last week’s post), but as he explores other fields of art and education in the excerpt below, he seems all the more desperate and less informed about the arts in all these fields. He seems to know something of Utah artists and educators, but little of those in the rest of the world, while claiming that the Utah natives are on par with them.