Midgley’s Preliminary Response to Roasted Tomatoes

Note from John W. Redelfs: Louis Midgley has offered to write a guest post on The Iron Rod early next week relative to the current discussion taking place in the comments to my "FARMS vs. the Signaturi" which I posted on Tuesday. Here are some preliminary remarks which he has asked me to post for him this morning. He promises us more after the weekend.

I rather like what Roasted Tomatoes has fashioned. He has spunk and has done some research and discovered a few things. I would enjoy having a conversation with him and others on my "Prying into Palmer." I will, if you will permit, fashion something responding to "Reviewing the FARMS Review: Midgley on Palmer" by Roasted Tomatoes (aka JNS) But I have to finish some editorial details on the editor's introduction to the next issue of the FARMS Review 18/1 (2006). This must be done this morning, and then I must attended a meeting of Maxwell Institute people with Richard Bushman. Immediately after this meeting, my wife and I are leaving town for a couple of days–I am going fishing. When we return, I will draft something for you. I will have it to you on Monday.

But I can say now that I agree with Roasted's comments about Ann Royal probably not being the editor of Paul Pry's Weekly Bulletin. I have worked long and hard on the question of who edited that thing. I was too confident that she had been the editor of that thing. I have been unable to figure out who it was. But, as Roasted indicates, it really does not matter. Probably Roasted does not know this, but I have already tried to address the problem of determining who the editor of that tabloid was. Who the editor was is, as Roasted grants, not really an important issue. And neither is the question of whether Grant Palmer knew that "Paul Pry" had anti-Mormon connections. He may or may not have known. However, his current effort to explain how he came up with that name is not all that plausible. And Roasted needs to ask himself if he has represented the explanation that Palmer recently provided on that Podcast accurately. He needs to make and then post a transcript of the relevant portions of that Podcast. Why? My understanding is that Palmer indicated that on a holiday in London he visited the West End (the theatre district) and noticed the name Paul Pry on a leaflet giving tips on plays and musicals. I am confident that Palmer mentioned that he loves to travel and on one of his trips to London, which had to be prior to 1980, he found that name in the theatre district. Palmer will have to demonstrate that he was in London prior to having adopted the name "Paul Pry" to hide his identity from CES.

His current explanation is not what he told me when I had a long phone conversation with him. Back then, what he said is that someone had suggested the name to him. He could not recall who it was. At that time he was very close to Brent Metcalfe and Ron Walker, who were then busy looking for anything they could find that would cast light on what turned out to be Mark Hoffman's forged Salamander Letter. For example, It was Ron Walker who introduced Palmer to E. T. A. Hoffmann's The Golden Pot. And it was that tale that got Palmer started writing "New York Mormonism" under the name "Paul Pry Jr." So who might have mentioned Paul Pry to Palmer? I do not know and he probably cannot recall. But it is likely that it was someone who was right then working on the very earliest published literature on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Paul Pry's Weekly Bulletin was one of the very first such publications. Palmer's most recent account of how he just happened to come up with Paul Pry as a handle, however, is much more plausible than his efforts to see the Moroni story in The Golden Pot.

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One Response to Midgley’s Preliminary Response to Roasted Tomatoes

  1. Dave says:

    I’m looking forward to reading Prof. Midgley’s comments next week. There’s a long tradition of publishing books and pamphlets under assumed names, such as “Publius” for the Federalist Papers. So I don’t see the use of a pen name or handle as a central issue. I’d be more interested in hearing about other issues related to Palmer’s book … or maybe even some comments on how the FARMS Review goes about choosing books to review and authors to write the reviews. And why some books (like Palmer’s first book) merit three of four separate reviews. There must be some coordination in the case of multiple reviews to prevent duplication or contradiction.

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