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Harper Lee, (To Kill a Mockingbird), Is to Publish a Second Novel


FredCDobbs
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New York Times

 

Harper Lee, the reclusive author of the beloved best-selling novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” will publish a second novel in July, her publisher announced Tuesday.

 

The recently rediscovered book, “Go Set a Watchman,” was completed in the mid-1950s, in the midst of the civil rights movement. It takes place 20 years after “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Though it’s effectively a sequel, Ms. Lee actually wrote “Go Set a Watchman” first.

 

MORE HERE:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/books/harper-lee-author-of-to-kill-a-mockingbird-is-to-publish-a-new-novel.html?_r=0

 

 

In the early 1950s I lived in a little town about 35 miles West of her childhood hometown of Monroeville, which is represented by the community shown in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD..

  FCD

 

Video report here:

 

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You've done some good homework by providing the links to PBS and The New York Times. The thing that struck me the most is that Harper Lee called this "the parent" of "To Kill a Mockingbird" rather than a sequel, which seems to be how the novel is already being positioned and how it will probably be marketed, as a sequel. I was a little shocked that one of her biographers would so preemptively presume that the new novel would cover the same ground and would represent the writer without the benefit of an editor and would therefore be doomed to be something inferior. I for one would be thrilled to hear her pure voice and especially to hear it applied to the later time period, the 1950's, when the themes which were simmering in the 1930's came to a full boil. One of the brilliant things about "Mockingbird" is that the story is told through young Scout, yet that character is at the same time unaware of many of the broader implications of what's happening. I can't wait to get inside the mind of the adult Scout, who will understand what the child missed, and to see how that understanding is applied to her adult relationship to her father. Last year I found the book on tape in a thrift store (read by Roses Pilchard) and have already listened to it twice. This Christmas I got the Sissy Spacek audio version, so I've been really living with the story lately and right now I feel like a Harry Potter fan counting down the days to publication.

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You've done some good homework by providing the links to PBS and The New York Times. The thing that struck me the most is that Harper Lee called this "the parent" of "To Kill a Mockingbird" rather than a sequel, which seems to be how the novel is already being positioned and how it will probably be marketed, as a sequel. I was a little shocked that one of her biographers would so preemptively presume that the new novel would cover the same ground and would represent the writer without the benefit of an editor and would therefore be doomed to be something inferior. I for one would be thrilled to hear her pure voice and especially to hear it applied to the later time period, the 1950's, when the themes which were simmering in the 1930's came to a full boil. One of the brilliant things about "Mockingbird" is that the story is told through young Scout, yet that character is at the same time unaware of many of the broader implications of what's happening. I can't wait to get inside the mind of the adult Scout, who will understand what the child missed, and to see how that understanding is applied to her adult relationship to her father. Last year I found the book on tape in a thrift store (read by Roses Pilchard) and have already listened to it twice. This Christmas I got the Sissy Spacek audio version, so I've been really living with the story lately and right now I feel like a Harry Potter fan counting down the days to publication.

 

I see that your using the term "the new novel".    Is that really the case or is what Fred said "will publish a second novel in July" as well as "Ms. Lee actually wrote “Go Set a Watchman” first"  (as in before Mockingbird) the case.

 

Sorry, if it appears I'm being picky but to me these are some major differences.    Unless Harper 'updated' Go Set a Watchman since the time she initially wrote it (e.g.  based on viewing the movie,  the reaction to the movie,   where civil rights have gone since she wrote the book etc...),    I wouldn't view anything about the book as 'new'.

 

But I do wonder why the book wasn't published many decades ago.   

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I saw one TV news report that said she wrote this "new" book first, the one about Scout all grown up, then someone suggested she should write one about the adventures of young Scout when she was a kid growing up, so she wrote TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and that got published in 1960, while her original book (with the older Scout) was "lost" in someone's safe deposit box until recently.

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I saw one TV news report that said she wrote this "new" book first, the one about Scout all grown up, then someone suggested she should write one about the adventures of young Scout when she was a kid growing up, so she wrote TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and that got published in 1960, while her original book (with the older Scout) was "lost" in someone's safe deposit box until recently.

 

Yea,  "lost";   It appears you question that like I do.     I assume Happer didn't forget she wrote the book so how could it be 'lost'.     

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Yea,  "lost";   It appears you question that like I do.     I assume Happer didn't forget she wrote the book so how could it be 'lost'.     

Actually, she may have forgotten, Sadly, I read an article that suggested she is rather senile and may not have completely understood what she was signing. I don;t know how trust-worthy the source is though.

http://jezebel.com/be-suspicious-of-the-new-harper-lee-novel-1683488258

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From what I gathered from the articles I read about the book, Go Set a Watchman was indeed written first. After Lee submitted it to an editor, she was told to go write a book that focused more on Atticus. I assume that the editor thought that the original manuscript was not cohesive enough, or focused enough, or sellable enough as it was, but thought that Lee might be able to write a better book if the story were more limited. The result of the second effort was To Kill a Mockingbird. After that, I assume the editor and Lee forgot about the original manuscript, that hadn’t made the grade, and settled for TKAM’s success. I would guess, that when the original manuscript turned up all these years later, enough time had passed that its original contents about civil rights, gave it an opportunity to be more relevant as a historical documentary of sorts.

 

I wonder about it being released unaltered, but maybe her style was just that good back then that it didn’t need to be altered. Maybe the story, in its unaltered form, with the backdrop of history, is now cohesive enough, focused enough, and sellable enough.

 

Or maybe someone just saw an opportunity to make some money from it for very little extra effort.

 

Either way, I’ll probably buy it and read it. The civil rights angle, along with more of Atticus, and a grown up Jean Louise, not to mention my appreciation for TKAM, are enough to sell me. Even if the book isn’t as good as TKAM, it might be able to stand on its own, for what it is, in its own right. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets made into a movie either.

 

So ... the question is: who would play Atticus and Jean Louise?

 

I suggest that Catherine Keener might make a good Jean Louise, depending on how old Jean Louise is in the book. And for some reason I am thinking George Clooney as Atticus, but he would have to find a new depth of gravitas, and a good makeup artist, to pull it off. If Dill were in the book, and Philip Seymour Hoffman were still alive, he could play Dill, considering that he already played the character on which Dill was based in Capote. (Come to think of it, Catherine Keener played Lee, the basis for Jean Marie, in Capote as well.)

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Yea,  "lost";   It appears you question that like I do.     I assume Happer didn't forget she wrote the book so how could it be 'lost'.     

According to the New York Times account, which Fred included, an original typed copy was attached to an original copy of "Mockingbird" in Harper Lee's personal archives, which another source said was in a safe deposit box. Her friend and lawyer made the discovery but didn't realize at first what it was, that it wasn't part of the "Mockingbird" manuscript. Harper Lee has been quoted as saying she didn't realize a copy still existed, which is not unreasonable in my opinion; safe deposit boxes can easily become repositories for forgotten personal effects. In referring to "Watchman" as a new novel I meant newly published, though of course I understand that the publication is still forthcoming. "Watchman" seems to have been abandoned on the advice of her editor, who recommended she start all over again, telling the story of Scout's childhood not as flashbacks, but from the point of view of the child. Ms. Lee has said she was a new writer so she did as she was told. This, to me, is slighltly chilling, but on the other hand we wouldn't have "Mockingbird" if this advice were not followed. You're right that she wouldn't have forgotten she had written "Watchman" first, but since the rewritten novel was published, she must have felt the original version was now a no-go. It's not unreasonable to me that she could have forgotten in all these intervening years that there was a copy in her archives. I don't know about you, but I'm sure I'd be surprised to find some of the stuff I still have tucked away but haven't actually handled or looked at all these years.

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According to the New York Times account, which Fred included, an original typed copy was attached to an original copy of "Mockingbird" in Harper Lee's personal archives, which another source said was in a safe deposit box. Her friend and lawyer made the discovery but didn't realize at first what it was, that it wasn't part of the "Mockingbird" manuscript. Harper Lee has been quoted as saying she didn't realize a copy still existed, which is not unreasonable in my opinion; safe deposit boxes can easily become repositories for forgotten personal effects. In referring to "Watchman" as a new novel I meant newly published, though of course I understand that the publication is still forthcoming. "Watchman" seems to have been abandoned on the advice of her editor, who recommended she start all over again, telling the story of Scout's childhood not as flashbacks, but from the point of view of the child. Ms. Lee has said she was a new writer so she did as she was told. This, to me, is slighltly chilling, but on the other hand we wouldn't have "Mockingbird" if this advice were not followed. You're right that she wouldn't have forgotten she had written "Watchman" first, but since the rewritten novel was published, she must have felt the original version was now a no-go. It's not unreasonable to me that she could have forgotten in all these intervening years that there was a copy in her archives. I don't know about you, but I'm sure I'd be surprised to find some of the stuff I still have tucked away but haven't actually handled or looked at all these years.

 

I don't know how one doesn't check to see if they have a copy of the first book they wrote in all the likely places that the book could possibility be in,  such as safe deposit boxes.

 

Well there is one reason I can think of:  they don't wish to find a copy and they actually hope it is lost.

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I don't know how one doesn't check to see if they have a copy of the first book they wrote in all the likely places that the book could possibility be in,  such as safe deposit boxes.

 

Well there is one reason I can think of:  they don't wish to find a copy and they actually hope it is lost.

This doesn't puzzle me the way it seems to be puzzling you. I have no doubt that she could have, as you said, checked in all the likely places the book could be, if she had felt the need to do so. But what writer would ever expect that an opportunity such as this would come about, the publication of an alternate draft of a book that has stood alone all these years? Unless she were like Gollum standing guard over her "precious", I can see how the first ("rejected") manuscript would fade in her consciousness over this long period of time, particularly since her consciousness seems to have been compromised by age and health.

What does puzzle me is why you would make such a leap to the belief that she wanted it to be lost and hoped it wouldn't be found. I'm not sure what's influenced you in that direction, though I'm certainly willing to admit that there seem to be unknown elements in the story of how this publication came about. Her sister did say that she (Harper) was susceptible to the influence of people she trusted. It may well be that there is more to it than we now know and it certainly wouldn't be the first instance of connivance in the literary world if it turns out to be in any way against her wishes. For now my personal feeling of anticipation is so strong that only very convincing evidence that Harper Lee has somehow been misused in this process would change that.

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This doesn't puzzle me the way it seems to be puzzling you. I have no doubt that she could have, as you said, checked in all the likely places the book could be, if she had felt the need to do so. But what writer would ever expect that an opportunity such as this would come about, the publication of an alternate draft of a book that has stood alone all these years? Unless she were like Gollum standing guard over her "precious", I can see how the first ("rejected") manuscript would fade in her consciousness over this long period of time, particularly since her consciousness seems to have been compromised by age and health.

What does puzzle me is why you would make such a leap to the belief that she wanted it to be lost and hoped it wouldn't be found. I'm not sure what's influenced you in that direction, though I'm certainly willing to admit that there seem to be unknown elements in the story of how this publication came about. Her sister did say that she (Harper) was susceptible to the influence of people she trusted. It may well be that there is more to it than we now know and it certainly wouldn't be the first instance of connivance in the literary world if it turns out to be in any way against her wishes. For now my personal feeling of anticipation is so strong that only very strong evidence that Harper Lee has somehow been misused in this process would change that.

 

Hey, I'm a cynic!   So that being the case,   my guess is that those that are going to get her inheritance decided they should publish the book while she was still alive but about to die,  so they could milk all they could from it.     I really hope that isn't the case, but we have seen offspring with no talent go out of their way to make a buck off someone with talent.

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