Traveling "The Undiscovered Country"

By Howe, Susan Elizabeth | Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 2018 | Go to article overview

Traveling "The Undiscovered Country"


Howe, Susan Elizabeth, Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought


Traveling "the undiscovered country" Stephen Carter, ed. Moth and Rust: Mormon Encounters with Death. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2017. 257 pp. Paper: $23.95. ISBN: 9781560852650.

Death comes into our lives all too often; we don't seek it out. As much as possible, we focus on essential, everyday concerns and keep death in the distance, at the edge of the horizon. Consequently, it is something of an anomaly to find a book of essays, poetry, fiction, drama, and art whose organizing subject is death. Asked to review Moth and Rust, I opened it with trepidation, not particularly eager for such a long and intense engagement with, as Shakespeare calls it, "The undiscovered country from whose bourn / No traveller returns" (Hamlet 3.1.80-1). But this collection has been an altogether satisfying and thought-provoking read. It is original and extremely well-written, and the authors' musings about and personal experiences with death have left me with much to consider.

As I began to read, I immediately noticed that each of the forty-six authors is intelligent and talented and has an extensive publishing record. These writers care about words and use them well, the evocative and mellifluous title Moth and Rust being the first example of such care. The excellence ofboth the prose and the poetry is one of the greatest pleasures the book offers. Flannery O'Connor said that in a literary work of art, the method of presenting the work (the language with which it is written and how that language is arranged) is an aspect of the art and can't be separated from it; it is impossible to summarize what a piece says, because the very way of conveying the story or ideas is an inseparable aspect of how and what the work means. The individual pieces in this collection function in that way, offering more than a reader can comprehend in a single reading. Furthermore, I can describe them only incompletely; there is so much more to be gained by reading them one by one. And a word about the poems: to feel their full impact in the collection, the reader must slow down, reread each one three or four times in a sitting to absorb the way the images and symbols expand and echo, extending the meaning of the words.

The unusual focus of this book is one of its strongest assets; I've never read anything even remotely like it. Editor Stephen Carter has divided the contents into five loosely arranged sections. The first, "Passages," includes works about the death of someone close to the narrator. Usually that closeness is loving and sustaining; in one essay it is based on cruelty, and in others what should be closeness is complicated by the taciturn or flighty, irresponsible personality of the beloved person. Five of the works are about mothers, four about fathers, three about grandmothers or great grandmothers, one about a brother, and one about a beloved woman friend. Some are more about the narrator than the dying person, often the way the narrator comes to a new understanding of death or of his or her relationship with the departed loved one. There are five poems, nine personal essays, and one joke-the dying person's joke.

The second section is "Piercing the Veil," about visitations from those who have passed. I expected that in this section, the personal essays would be more hesitant than the stories in making claims about communication with ghosts and angels, but two of the three essays are as emphatic in tone as the stories. In one essay, the writer describes matter-of-factly all the ghosts that have visited his family. In the other, a message from children who had died a century before teaches a chaplain of the relationship between this world and the next. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Traveling "The Undiscovered Country"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.