General Question

ibstubro's avatar

Care to speculate why "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee is releasing her second book (which is actually her first book) this coming Tuesday?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) July 10th, 2015

I’ve been trying to re-visit the classics and read “To Kill a Mockingbird” within the past month. What a great book, and one I was not personally ever ‘taught’.

Tuesday next they will mark Harper Lee’s second book release. It’s the publication of the manuscript that led to her writing Mockingbird.

Why would she authorize the book’s release after all these years?

And no, we can’t expect her to explain, as she has been silent so far and hasn’t done an extensive interview for 50 years.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

19 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

Maybe she wants closure. Or she needs the cash.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Ms. Lee has been in a nursing facility in her hometown (and the setting of Mockingbird), Monroeville, Alabama, for the past few years. She was said by the nursing staff to be “slowing down” a couple of years ago. She was getting a bit forgetful. It may be that she has signed off on her literary legacy, possibly to her family or maybe her publisher. She never liked the fame or the controversy that came with her only book. Once the anathema of Monroeville, she is now a local industry. She has said that she enjoys reading letters from people who’ve read her book and her nurses encourage her fans to write her at:

Ms. Harper Lee
Monroeville, Alabama.

It will get to her.

Addendum: Just did a little research. It appears that there is a bit of a dispute between Ms. Lee and the town of Monroeville as to certain rights to her book and other related things, including the sequel, Go Set a Watchman.

janbb's avatar

There is a lot of controversy and no definitive answers as to who or why the new book, which is actually a first draft of “To Kill a Mockingbrid” has been released. Rather than engaging in idle speculation, it might be worth reading some of the many articles that have been published about this issue.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

“The famously press- and attention-shy Lee, who always maintained she’d never write a second book, shocked the world in February when her attorney announced she’d discovered a long-lost manuscript and it would be published.”

The Penguin is right, of course. Evidently, Ms. Lee’s trusted sister, Alice Lee, an attorney, has passed on and left her in the hands of her attorney, Tonya Carter, who is being portrayed as the bad guy in these disputes which have come about only since the death of Alice.

Like Atticus, it would be wisest to hold back any judgment until we learn more of the facts in the case.

emmastone019's avatar

There is a lot of controversy and no definitive answers as to who or why the new book, which is actually a first draft of “To Kill a Mockingbrid” has been released.

BosM's avatar

Harper Lee’s “Go Set A Watchman” was actually written in the late 1950s before her classic, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” was published. It’s set many years later and features some of the same characters, but the publisher refutes that it was an early draft of TKAM:

Jonathan Burnham — publisher of Harper, the HarperCollins imprint that’s releasing Go Set a Watchman says it’s an entirely separate book that stands on its own:

“The notion that Go Set a Watchman is an early draft of Mockingbird I think we can discount,” Burnham says. “It’s a book written by a young woman set in her own times, quite unlike To Kill a Mockingbird, which casts itself back. And it’s a novel, as people will discover, that addresses the political issues of the 1950s head-on. Burnham says the novel is being released largely unedited, in accordance with Lee’s wishes. Why Lee never wanted to release the novel until now remains a mystery, and the 89-year-old isn’t talking.”

janbb's avatar

@BosM I wouldn’t necessarily trust what the publisher of the novel, who has a vested interest in its commercial success has to say about it. There is a lot of controversy even about how incapacitated Lee is and why the manuscript, which was possibly lost, has been rediscovered by Tonya Carter, Lee’s lawyer since her sister died last year.

I heard a piece on NPR yesterday – which unfortunately I can’t find right now which said that the novel was rejected for publication in the 50s as being too timely and controversial and it was suggested that Lee recast it from a child’s point of view and set it in the 30s. The new version became To Kill a Mockingbird.

Here is another piece from NPR about the history of the new novel and Monroeville. This is the one @Espiritus_Corvus cited but there are many more articles and opinions in the NY Times, on NPR and in other places.

Here is an article from this week’s Times that shows Lee to be sociable and with it as late as 2004.

And Here is a an article (“ripped from today’s headlines”) that clearly describes Go Set a Watchman as a first version of Mockingbird which Lee was told to rewrite from a child’s point of view and in which Finch is portrayed as a racist. I have to say I have issues with its publication.

“The truth shall set you free” – but, as in Rashomon, there are many versions of the truth in this case. I’ll be teaching To Kill a Mockingbrid this Fall but I am reserving judgment about the publication of its sequel or prequel.

josie's avatar

To destroy one more American hero, Atticus Finch.
To confirm or deny once and for all whether or not Truman Capote did the re-write.

ibstubro's avatar

That Scout’s ‘boyfriend’ (the kid who lived next door during the summers) was modeled on Truman Capote was a “eureka moment” for me. It fits so very well.

From the same NPR story that @janbb cites, but cannot find

janbb's avatar

@josie I think a bigger question that I’ve read about is how much Harper Lee was involved in writing Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. I’ve never read speculation that Capote rewrote To Kill a Mockingbird.

Like you, @ibstubro, I was delighted when I learned, years ago, that Truman Capote was the basis for the character Dill in Mockingbird.

Another big question for me is whether Lee did actually agree to the publication of the “new” book and whether it should have been published as a separate novel rather than a draft for scholars to examine. I just hate the fact that Atticus is portrayed as a racist in this earlier version.

LostInParadise's avatar

I listened to a book review this morning on NPR. I think it was by Maureen Corrigan. The review was not very favorable. I don’t want to give any spoilers. Let’s just say that a character does not behave the way you would expect based on To Kill A Mockingbird

Pachy's avatar

Perhaps family pressure. I have read that Lee’s sister felt this book was not as good as “Mockingbird” and that it portrayed Atticus (who was based on their father) in a poor light.

ibstubro's avatar

Keen article, @jca!
A gem, “She describes another as “salt of the earth,” before adding: “Personally, as a woman, I prefer other seasonings added to a diet, including pepper and paprika and garlic, onions and wine. Nevertheless I am very fond of him.”

Smart, funny, witty, writing.

janbb's avatar

There have been multiple articles in the Times and other places about the novel, its content and its publication. I keep changing my mind about how I feel about it all! It is quite mindblowing for a literature buff.

ibstubro's avatar

Well, I think I’ll wait for you to read it and report in, @janbb. I’m in no hurry, and I don’t think I want to read it if Atticus is shown as too flawed.

janbb's avatar

@ibstubro I’ll let you know if I decide to. I’m prepping Mockingbird now and it is such a wonderful book, I don’t really want to spoil it in any way. Nor do I want to give the publishers any money but I may wait for it at the library.

jca's avatar

NY Times article on reader reactions:

There are a bunch of articles about this book on the Times site.

janbb's avatar

@jca Yes, I cited several too. They have had very good coverage of this.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther