Scott Hales digs into the Church History Library archives for more information on Mormon novelist Nephi Anderson and his potential link to a Deseret News columnist named “Scriptus”.
Wm writes: Scott Hales — who most AMV readers will know from The Low-Tech World and Modern Mormon Men — spent some time earlier this year doing archival research on Mormon literature. Here’s a guest post by Scott that comes out of some of that research.
Is Nephi Anderson “Scriptus”?
by Scott Hales
In the Nephi Anderson Collection of the Church History Library is a folder that contains newspaper clippings that Nephi Anderson collected throughout his life. Most of these are of articles, letters to the editor, or poems he published in newspapers in Utah, a few eastern cities, and England. Many of them, like clippings about missionary work or anti-Mormon activity in England, are unremarkable because they represent the kind of thing you would expect Anderson to save. Others, like a few describing violent crimes (“Child Murder Near Southend, Head Broken with a Slater’s Hammer,” “Ex-Convict Found Drowned”), raise fascinating questions about why an author known for his sentimentality, “lovely spirit,” and the “gentleness and kindness in his being” would be drawn to such grisly stories. (I have my own theories about the dark imagination of Nephi Anderson, but I’ll save them for a later post.)
When I was a child I read and loved Robert Heinlein’s Podkayne of Mars, so when my son was old enough, I read it to him also. I had somehow acquired a nice edition of the book, one with an interpretive essay in the end. So, when I went to read the book to my son, I read the essay, and discovered that the book wasn’t at all what I remembered when I read it as a child.
What I had read as a child was simply entertainment. A great story of a girl who goes on an adventure with interplanetary repercussions. What the essay spoke of was Heinlein’s rejection of woman’s liberation.
I’m currently in the middle of reading B. F. Skinner’s utopian novel Walden Two (1948), so when by coincidence I discovered the following discourse by George Q. Cannon, it gave me an unexpected view on utopias. Cannon’s remarks, spurred by Edward Bellamy’s popular utopian novel Looking Backward (1887), portray not only a religious criticism of many of the utopian proposals, but also demonstrate that religion itself is, in a way, about creating a utopia or preparing for a utopian hereafter. And these remarks are particularly interesting given Mormonism’s own experimentation and involvement with utopian efforts well before Cannon made these remarks.
My father turned 60 in February and we went home to celebrate. That Sunday, in the church foyer, were copies of Jane Austen’s Emma and Sense and Sensibility and I brought them home. (Our paperback copy of Emma is falling apart and our copy of Sense and Sensibility has the heft of a family bible.) Ends up both the books were published by Deseret Book (along with six others) under one ISBN assigned to The Best Books: Classics for LDS Homes. The books are as follows: Continue reading “The Best Books for LDS Homes”
Some time ago, I started following John Granger‘s Twilight studies blog, “Forks High School Professor” as a corollary to my own academic interest in Meyer’s books. Granger made a name for himself as Dean of Harry Potter Studies when he took J.K. Rowling’s books as subjects worthy of academic study. And now he’s trying his hand at Twilight, an effort I heartily applaud as I think of my own haphazard attempts to do the same thing.
And yet, sometimes he just rubs my believing-Mormon-skin the wrong way with his cursory engagement with Mormonism, something that’s simply secondary to and arising from his academic interest in literature, faith, and culture. Since he’s a newcomer to the still-blossoming field of Mormon studies* and an outsider to the LDS faith, I can’t fault him for this engagement and for getting some things wrong every now and then. Heck, cultural Mormons are a peculiar lot with an equally peculiar history. Putting things together about the religion can be difficult even for those with a lifetime commitment to it. Continue reading “Where Twilight Studies Meets Mormon Studies: Setting the Record Straight”
While working on a translation of Nephi Anderson‘s Added Upon earlier this week, I came across a passage where he uses the word Celestialized. Of course, I couldn’t find the word listed in my bilingual dictionary, and it occurred to me that this must be a fairly unique word–one that isn’t used very often outside of Mormonism.