Shortly after Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, an envelope with the words “Important Please Rush” arrived at the Anderson home on 400 South in Salt Lake City. Inside was the following letter from one G. N. Fleming of Evanston, Illinois:
This unsigned letter, which has a similar ring to it, seems to have arrived in the same envelope:
I don’t know if G. N. ever got his damaged copy of Added Upon, but his earnest question about whether or not Anderson had had a premonition about the Invasion of Poland, as well as his enthusiasm for the novel apparent affirmation of his apocalypticism and “theories of the spirit,” speaks to the emotional and spiritual investments many readers had in the book. We can laugh at it now, even dismiss it as trite and doctrinally suspect, but we should remember that Added Upon once helped to forge Mormon identity–at least for a generation or two–by making the purpose of life and the plan of salvation more personal and accessible for the reading masses.
It also encouraged the real and the conceptual to meet. For G. N., the Invasion of Poland was not just a current event, but also a sign of the time, a piece of “the last great struggle” before the Second Coming of Christ. How could Anderson write a book like Added Upon–and include the King of Poland–without having had premonitions about the events leading up to the End of Time? Such things, no doubt, came easily to one so well-versed in the happenings of spirits.
The poignant (and slightly eerie) part of this story, of course, is that Nephi Anderson had been dead for nearly seventeen years when G. N. Fleming’s letter arrived. How he would have responded is a matter for speculation, but I believe that he would have responded graciously and sent the poor man a brand new book and a kind letter. I also think he would have denied having had any premonitions about Poland, although I’m sure he would have been right on board with all the Apocalyptic stuff.