Proving Contraries

A Collection of Writings in Honor of Eugene England

Book Notice

“Proving Contraries”: A Collection of Writings in Honor of Eugene England, edited by Robert A. Rees (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005)

This collection reflects what its editor, Robert Rees, Director of Education and Humanities at the Institute of HeartMath, calls the “broad scholarly and expressive interests that characterized Gene’s professional life.”

Eugene England (1933–2001) had wide-ranging influence as a literary critic, theologian, historian, creative writer, and educator as is evident in this collection of writings by his friends, colleagues, and former students.

The reader should not be misled by the title; it is not a series of recollections of England’s life but rather a collection of poetry, history, fiction, drama, and personal and scholarly essays that offer their own fresh insights into a variety of issues such as education, scriptural exegesis, faith, the Atonement, and the Mormon experience. The only pieces that refer directly to England are Rees’s own explanatory introduction, poem, and final essay and Margaret Blair Young’s personal tribute to England. To readers unfamiliar with England personally or who are undecided about his standing in Mormon culture, Rees’s and Young’s writings may seem overly sentimental and somewhat out of step with the spirit of the other pieces.

The collection includes stunning, crystalline poetry by Bruce Jorgensen and Dian Saderup Monson; a devastatingly powerful short story that refuses facile sentimentality by Douglas Thayer about a boy-scouting crisis in the Uinta Mountains of Utah; a fascinating reflection on democratic education by one of the past century’s greatest educators, the late Wayne Booth; a thought-provoking essay on the rise of religious emotionalism in Mormon expression by Armand Mauss; and a wonderful personal essay by Mary Lythgoe Bradford. Excellent pieces by Levi Peterson, Tim Slover, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and Lavina Fielding Anderson are also presented. The collection offers a fascinating, if at times uneven and somewhat thematically scattered, melange of writings that demonstrate that the intellectual passions of Eugene England are strong and fertile in the minds and hearts of these talented thinkers.


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