Casey Adams, Deseret News
The first editions of the Book of Mormon were prepared and bound using old traditional methods. After printing the 592-page first edition of the Book of Mormon on sheets of paper, Church members, folded the sheets into folios to be sewn, glued and bound into a finished book.
Editor’s note: This essay by scholar Grant Shreve is part of an ongoing Deseret News opinion series exploring ideas and issues at the intersection of “Faith and Thought.”
When I first picked up the Book of Mormon in preparation for a dissertation on religion and the rise of the American novel, I didn’t expect to fall in love with it. But I did fall — and hard — although not into the arms of the church. I did not, in other words, become a Latter-day Saint.
Mine was an aesthetic experience, not a religious one. The Book of Mormon gripped me in the same way Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick” and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Dred” had years earlier. I’m a sucker for books that go against the grain, and the Book of Mormon went against just about every grain I knew. Its strangeness, its audacity, its rebuke to the tacit creeds structuring everyday life in antebellum (and contemporary) America, utterly thrilled me. In it, I felt I had discovered a singularly penetrative and searching intelligence. “How does such a book exist?,” I thought. And why isn’t everyone talking about it?