Special Award in Criticism
Alan F. Keele
“I am only sorry that in my last hour I have to break the Word of Wisdom.” So concludes the final letter written by Helmut Huebener before he was beheaded by the Nazi regime. One suspects that Alan Keele never thought, as he began the process of introducing Helmut to his Mormon brothers and sisters and expounding on the moral courage of Helmut’s small resistance group that the effects would still be so profoundly with us. Only the skills of a consummate literary critic and a man of deep moral conviction, abiding faith, and optimistic hope in the righteous potential of humanity could have produced Keele’s legacy as a politically engaged and idealistic critic, a student of righteous resistance to wicked regimes. These same virtues and skills have informed and inspired his work in German studies. His lifetime of intellectual engagement has also produced the best critical study of “the artistic universality and vitality of certain ‘peculiar’ Latter-day Saint doctrines” in German literature, opera, and cinema. (One might add, in any literature, opera, or cinema.) The range of Keele’s experience and his insight into the inspiration of great German art are simply staggering. His ability to draw rich parallels between the truths discovered under artistic inspiration and the most supernal restoration doctrines is unmatched in Mormon criticism. We have seen nothing like In Search of the Supernal. Mormons once seemed to believe that great art and great revelation feed off of each other. Keele has fought the good fight to keep this singular truth alive. The Association for Mormon Letters is pleased to recognize the achievement of LDS critical excellence by Alan F. Keele, Professor of German Language and Literature at Brigham Young University.