With their opinions influenced by Pierre Benoit’s somewhat historical 1921 novel, Le Lac Sale, many speakers of French have had a very limited view of Mormonism. In Les Mormons, Massimo Introvigne acknowledges there are widespread and inaccurate perceptions of Mormons that attribute to them a polygamous life-style yet in our day. He states that his intent is to provide a factual and objective view of who the Mormons really are, as well as a clear view of the origins and evolution of their church and religion.
In addition to an apparent in-depth exposure to a broad array of written sources, the author by his own claim made numerous trips to Utah as well as to Missouri, meeting with various Mormon splinter groups, active Mormons, and anti-Mormons. He states that he met with “intellectual Mormons of all sorts, from the most ‘liberal,’ such as the editors of Dialogue, to the most conservative” (9). After such a variety of personal contacts but without placing his scholar’s objectivity in question, the Catholic writer does speak of having established “ties of friendly rapport” with several “intellectual Mormons” (9). These contacts apparently helped the author develop the book’s particularly extensive bibliography.
Introvigne cites Mormonism in his introduction as the most important of the “alternative religions” established during the past two hundred years. He supports this contention by the extent and objectivity of his coverage. He has sections on the doctrine and history of Mormonism as well as an anthology of Mormon writings. In addition he provides an overview of Mormon fine arts, with brief looks at architecture, sculpture, painting, literature, and music. He rounds out the work with sections on the spiritual life-style of Mormons, a sociological profile, and a discussion of the organization of the LDS community.
Readers of French who wish to experience an objective assessment of Mormonism written by a non-Mormon will enjoy Les Mormons, probably the most in-depth and the least biased outsider’s view published to date in the French language.