There’s much to admire about Nephi Anderson and his work, but I have always been troubled by his (mis)treatment of other religious faiths—“sectarians” as he called them—in his novels. On the one hand, I understand that his unflattering representations of Protestants and Catholics in Marcus King, Mormon (1900), The Story of Chester Lawrence (1913), and The Romance of a Missionary (1919) were responses not only to the opposition he encountered during his three missions for the Church, but also to the anti-Mormonism that was rampant in the presses of his day. On the other hand, though, I find myself wishing that he extended more charity to those who disagreed with him theologically. So much of his work, after all, seeks to redeem and ennoble characters who have been either marginalized by cultural maladies—sexism, poverty, class prejudice—or oppressed by sin and guilt. Why couldn’t he do the same for the “sectarians”?
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: more