Tuesday, July 14, 2015

To Kill a Mockingbird to see a view-changing sequel


Published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was pronounced ‘immediately successful’ and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1962. It quickly became a classic of modern American literature.
Narrated by Jean Louise Finch “Scout”, the novel tackles issues of gender, race, inequality, social norms as well as serious and harsh issues such as rape and injustice. 
 
The novel tells the story of Scout and her brother, Jem, and their life with their widower father and lawyer, Atticus, who has to defend a black man from a rape charge. The novel shows Atticus’ fair-minded humanitarian values and attitude through his daughter’s eyes.

To Kill a Mockingbird was adapted into a movie in 1962 starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as Scout. The movie received rave reviews and earned more than 10 times its budget. It was won and was nominated for several awards.

Worth noting, To Kill a Mockingbird was translated into Arabic by Cairo University professor of English Literature Dalia El Shayyal.

Earlier this year, Harper Lee announced that she will publish a sequel to the book, titled Go Set a Watchman, which is written from an adult Scout’s perspective. The book is scheduled for publication today, Tuesday, 14 July, 2015.
Go Set a Watchman is said to have been written before To Kill a Mockingbird. The original manuscript was written in the form of flashbacks of an adult Scout. However, Lee’s publisher at the time asked her to focus on Scout and thus To Kill a Mockingbird was born.
Unlike the first book, the new one is not written from Scout’s perspective but instead “closely follows her return to Maycomb after working in New York and her gradual disillusionment with the ingrained attitudes she finds,” according to an article in The Guardian.
The first chapter of Go Set a Watchman was published by The Guardian on Friday, 10 July, 2015. Check it out here.

“One of the great figures of American literature has suffered dramatic reputational damage this weekend. The unexpected early release of shocking plot details from the new novel by Harper Lee, a sequel to her great work To Kill A Mockingbird, has revealed that the noble hero of her first book, Atticus Finch, in later life becomes a racist who seems happy for segregation to continue in Alabama. [It’s] as if the Statue of Liberty had been discovered to have cloven hooves,” according to an article also in The Guardian.

James Daunt, CEO at Waterstones, Britain’s largest book chain, said he expects pre-orders for Go Set a Watchman to surpass those for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
“You don’t need to be clairvoyant to say that it will without doubt be the biggest book of the year, and the biggest book of many a year,” he told The Guardian.
Bookstores across the UK and US are planning several events to celebrate the launch of Lee’s new book, with many events planned at midnight and some places screening the movie of To Kill a Mockingbird.
“This feels like a celebration – a once in a lifetime kind of thing, and like it will be an instant classic,” said Foyles’ head of events Andy Quinn, according to the British newspaper.



A review of Go Set a Watchman published in The Guardian says “Whereas To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated in the first-person by Scout as a young girl looking back a few years to events in the early 1930s, Go Set a Watchman is a third-person narrative, in which twenty-something Scout, now favouring her baptismal name of Jean Louise, returns from New York to visit Atticus, 72 and seriously arthritic, in her home town of Maycomb. Apart from their four-word poetic titles (the new novel’s is taken from the biblical book of Isaiah), the texts are largely independent of each other. Mockingbird is structured in 30 chapters divided between two sections; Watchman consists of seven parts including 19 chapters.”
 


To Kill a Mockingbird has many memorable quotes, here are a few:

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts.”
“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Personally, I have always wanted to read To Kill a Mockingbird. Now, I believe I’ll have a different kind of opportunity to read both books successively.
I also think Go Set a Watchman will be one of the most read books in 2015, even if it’s being published seven months in the year.