In nineteenth-century French literature, Mormons are represented as having a great deal in common with the French. Unlike American (and English) anti-Mormon melodrama, the French plays we will discuss are not really anti-Mormon at all. They may inaccurately portray Mormons and frequently joke about them, and they all prominently feature polygamy, but they share none of the vitriol found in American representations of Mormons. The title of the 1874 play Mormons in Paris implies that Mormons are in France to begin with . . . they are in Paris and may be all around the theatergoers! In Berthelier Meets the Mormons (1875), the key Mormons in Salt Lake City happen to all be French. In Stephana’s Buzzer (1892) Mormons are family. And in Japheth’s Twelve Wives (1890), Mormons come to Paris to stay. In France, Mormons were viewed as chameleons of sorts and as such could be seen as a perfect metaphor for Third Republic France where wealth, class, gender roles, and even marriage became fluid and negotiable.
-Explore how nineteenth-century French literature differs from English language texts of the same period in their depiction of Mormons;
-Examine connections between fictional Mormons and French social issues in the Third Republic;
-Theorize why Mormons featured prominently in French operettas from 1874-1892.
-Get feedback on the translation of Berthelier Meets the Mormons and the larger project.