by Erin K. | | 4 Comments | Tags:

I’m so glad you found us here this month! We’re reading and discussing Harper Lee’s book, Go Set a Watchman. The basic premise of the Online Book Club, if you’re new here, is that we discuss a book for a whole month, and each week, I write a new blog entry that talks about a different facet of the book. Then, you can leave a comment on the blog post, so we can interact with each other and learn more about the book. There is also a movie version of the book in most cases, so you can still leave your impressions on the work, even if you don’t have time to read the book.

Before we can talk about the plot or characters of Go Set a Watchman, I think we need to talk about the controversy surrounding the publication of the book. When it was first advertised, HarperCollins claimed that this was a new novel by Lee—a book meant to serve as a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. But, that claim has come under fire by many sources. Instead of being a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, this book seems to be a first draft—a draft that Lee and her original editor did not see fit to publish. Adding to the controversy are the facts that Lee declared for decades after the 1960 publication of To Kill a Mockingbird that she wouldn’t publish another book, at the time of publication, Lee’s sister and caretaker, Alice, had recently died, and at the time of publication, Lee was nearly blind and deaf.

After doing some research, I find it a little too coincidental that Lee’s lawyer “found” this new manuscript so soon after Alice’s death and after Lee’s health had declined so much. My reading, then, was colored by the fact that I felt that Harper Lee would not have wanted me or anyone else to read this book, and frequently throughout, I felt as if I were intruding on the private thoughts of Lee.

But, regardless of what might have been Lee’s intention, the book did get published, so I figure the least I can do is read the book well and engage in an intellectual conversation about it. Let’s talk about the first half of the book next week—I am really anxious to know what you think of the book and the controversy surrounding its publication.

Before I go, I thought I would share a couple of links to articles I found to be helpful to my understanding of the book:

  1. Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, had important legacy diminished by Go Set a Watchman controversy.
  2. The Suspicious Story Behind Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.”

So, what do you think? What are your thoughts about the publication of this book?

If you’ve been watching the documentary, it presents the idea that Harper Lee was excited about the publication of the book. Which story do you believe?

I look forward to hearing from you! Be ready to discuss the characters in the next blog entry.


4 Responses to “Go Set a Watchman: Week 2”

  1. Carrol

    Thank you for the articles. They were very informative.
    I definitely believe that publishing this book was not what Harper Lee intended. It just doesn’tmake sense that she would want to have it published after being stored away for so many years. After reading the articles, I am not sure she could even make such an important decision because of her physical struggles.
    It really saddens me that people she trusted would take advantage of her in this way.

    • Erin K.

      I’m right there with you, Carrol. I just feel like the publication is a little fishy.

      I think you should watch the documentary, though, just because it gives a different picture of the publication. I want to believe the story that the documentary tells, and I want to believe that Lee was really excited, but I just can’t make myself feel that way.

      Thanks for commenting again this week! I look forward to hearing from you next week!

  2. Caitlin E.

    Now that I’ve read the articles you provided I’m inclined to believe that publishing Watchman as a “novel” may not be what Harper Lee would have wanted–especially considering that we haven’t heard directly from her, only from legal figures that claim to speak for her. It seems to me that it was a money-making move by the publishers to capitalize on a pre-existing classic. It’s somewhat absurd that Harper Collins would think a rough draft, not to mention one with a much less optimistic perspective and protagonist, would become as esteemed as Mockingbird.

    • Erin K.

      Caitlin, I totally agree with you. The fact that it is an unedited first draft is what keeps sticking out to me. I can’t imagine very many writers who would be very happy to have other people read their first drafts. I remember how hard it was to have people read first drafts of my writing back in college–and that wasn’t even a big deal!

      Have you been able to watch the documentary? The section at the end that shows Harper Lee with the novel is really interesting. I’d be really interested to see what you thought of that scene.

      Thanks for chiming in again this week! I like hearing your thoughts!

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