Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Added Upon: Truth as a Substitute for Artistic Beauty

Photo by Ben Crowder
Added Upon as one of the first novels written in the LDS genre, is certainly a landmark novel for its structure, audience, purpose, and attempt at portraying doctrinal truth as fiction. Many of us are familiar with Saturday's Warrior, a Plan of Salvation narrative that colored our childhood Sundays. But until reading Added Upon many of us will not have realized that Saturday's Warrior had a precursor.

Following two main families, the Bogstads and the Ames, we watch as love in the pre-exsistence becomes love in mortality. We see life sorrow turn into life lessons, and saviors come from many different avenues, often unexpected. As relationships are begun, nourished, and enjoyed in each stage of the Plan of Salvation it is easy to see the appeal of the Plan of Salvation as a doctrinal tenet.

As a salvation narrative, Added Upon sets forth a five part structure beginning in the pre-exsistence, then moving through mortality, the spirit world, the millennium, and resurrection. Unfortunately the transitions between sections are abrupt and rushed, making for poor artistry, though such abruptness may function as a representation of the distinct places of being that comprise the Plan of Salvation. Similarly, the characterization of the novel is almost non-existent, emphasizing, rather, their actions, and the work they are involved in as they seek to become a part of God's plan. These aspects make for poor style, ineffective fiction, and detached readers, but perhaps, a point is being made that Truth should be able to stand on its own, functioning as the beauty and artistry, instead of being shackled to artistry as a means of appeal.

Because this novel is written for an LDS audience, it tends to fall back on antiquated language that we are familiar with through scripture. Its structures, characters, and style were all weak as well because they reflected a reliance upon the audience's LDS culture instead of the art of style. But perhaps that is the point; perhaps Truth should not be bound by the beauty of artistry.


  1. I appreciate that you took the flaws you found of the book and found the positive attributes that they brought instead. I agree, it was not the most compelling of books, but the way the Plan of Salvation is depicted, giving the lessons that might be taught about this doctrine a face and a voice, allows the book to personalize and personify a belief the LDS gospel has.

  2. I completely agree with your observations about the characterization and transitions in the book. You also crafted a great summary of the book. I was, however, under the impression that the book was written not exclusively to an LDS audience. For one thing, the LDS church is referred to pretty vaguely, and the Bible referenced almost exclusively (an LDS audience would've expected Book of Mormon references). I felt like the book was written at least partially as a missionary tool.

  3. I love how you mentioned that the audience is LDS, because that is one of my main questions about this book--if the audience is LDS, and presumably already knows LDS doctrine, then why did Anderson decide to write this? It's like fan fiction for the Book of Mormon--why give someone fanfic of Harry Potter instead of just giving them Harry Potter?

    His audience, of course, could also be non-mormons, but I think the same logic would apply (just give them the Book of Mormon), and also what you said is true: he relies on jargon that the LDS people know. I don't think he does a good enough job explaining the doctrine for non-member comprehension. But hey! Maybe we are missing some deep meaning in all of this... :)

  4. In the third paragraph, you put into words what I was thinking! His transitions, if you can even call them transitions, are abrupt and seem to make the story unbelievable if that is even the right word to use. There were times when I think he described situations in an appropriate light but the characters and situations never seemed to develop enough for me to feel satisfied.

  5. I also noticed the abruptness of the transitions. I think one reason why I struggled to follow the story after the abrupt transitions was the vagueness with which he began each section. In section four Anderson is obviously talking about Rupert, but he doesn't name him. Anderson simply refers to Rupert as "he" and "him." This made it difficult to follow the story, especially after such abrupt jumps between sections.