Thursday, April 16, 2015

Added Upon in a Different Light

The scriptures admonish us to "Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith" (D&C 88:118). I’m not exactly sure what God meant when he instructed us to seek out of the “best books,” but I believe His criteria is different from that of modern literary scholars. Orson Whitney had his own ideas about that scripture as it pertains to Mormon literature. He stated, “Above all things, we must be original. The Holy Ghost is the genius of "Mormon" literature. Not Jupiter, nor Mars, Minerva, nor Mercury. No fabled gods and goddesses…Our literature must live and breathe for itself. Our mission is diverse from all others; our literature must also be.” I believe that to be an enlightened statement. 

By this divine standard, I believe Nephi Anderson’s novel “Added Upon” falls under the umbrella of these “best books.” The story of various people journeying through pre-mortal, mortal, and post-mortal life, this novel focuses more on effectively teaching the Plan of Salvation than building its characters. In a way, it feels like a well-constructed Sunday school lesson, using allegories and stories form real people to strengthen the lessons about mortality and immortality. Although the book is far from eloquent by most worldly standards and relies more heavily on scriptural references than characters to deliver its points, I believe it still accomplishes something significant. 

The point of the novel is not to connect us with the happenings of the characters’ lives. Rather, we are meant to connect with the Plan of Salvation. I believe this is the case with the Book of Mormon. While Mormon Scholars have long interpreted the character and personality of characters off the pages, the Book of Mormon remains largely vague as to the personal lives of its characters (maybe with the exception of Nephi). Even the life of Christ is very sparsely covered relative to his 30+ years of life. I believe the reason is that these books take for their subject matter something bigger than personality. Nephi Anderson, in his own way, is trying to “add upon” the knowledge of the scriptures. While his style is not something I would be likely to emulate when trying to reach a non-LDS audience, I believe his efforts are commendable. At the very least, “Added Upon” understands its mission as being diverse from all others. 

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't thought about Added Upon in those terms. It's an interesting perspective to take when looking at literature.