Harper Lee's friends open up about "Go Set a Watchman"
about 2 years ago
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"As the world continues to mourn the loss of Harper Lee, questions still surround the release of Lee's second book, "Go Set a Watchman." While "To Kill a Mockingbird" will likely be Lee's signature work, one of her close friends, Wayne Flynt, sees it differently. "Frankly, I like the original book of 1956 [Go Set a Watchman] than I like the original that was published [To Kill a Mockingbird," says Flynt. An author himself, Flynt agrees that Mockingbird is the most beautifully constructed work Lee produced, he argues that "Go Set a Watchman" is more genuine. "I think the most authentic Nelle Harper Lee is not the one who has the perfect father, but the one who has the deeply flawed father," explains Flynt. "Not the one who's surrounded by all these wonderful people in Monroeville who are supportive of her, but the ones who have compromised themselves and contradicted themselves. That's the Alabama I know and love.""
"“Tonja was accused of manipulating Nelle,” said Mr Landegger. “But Nelle could not be manipulated.” Mrs Brown said that Go Set A Watchman was the result an old manuscript that even Lee thought she had lost: “She didn’t even know where it was. She was delighted when it was found and wanted it published,” she said. In her later years, Lee became partially blind and deaf, and some suggested that she did not have had the mental wherewithal to make the decision to publish text. Rumours swirled as Lee’s friends, ever loyal to the author’s wishes not to be in spotlight, held back from passing public comment. But now, after her death, both Mr Landegger and Mrs Brown sharply rejected this notion and were keen to set the record straight. Even in the months before her death, they both said, Lee remained as lucid as ever."
My understanding from an interview with one of her closest friends (possibly Wayne Flynt) was that Go Set a Watchman was actually the book she wanted to write/publish, but her publishers told her that it was too controversial for mainstream publication, so they asked her to write a new one. I had heard before that Go Set a Watchman was kind of a first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, but the spin they'd put on it before was that Lee had decided it wasn't good enough; this new spin (that the publisher was essentially afraid to publish it at the time) makes it seem a lot more likely that she would have wanted it to be published.
It does looks like she wanted it published, at least. I'm sure the discussion will continue for some time, but I've noticed reviewers/journalists already dare to like it a little bit again :)
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