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A Classic Enriched

Posted On September 20, 2015

The sequel to one of the best selling and controversial books of all time. “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” ―Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

By COURTNEY WEBB

 Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird means many different things to many different people. For some it is the 1961 Pulitzer Prize winning novel that forever changed the literary face of Southern life and race relations in the Deep South. Others will remember most its unforgettable cast of characters and the distinction of an intensely private creator who has always been obscured in a cloud of undeniable mystery.

It remains most notable as one of the most recognizable and beloved books in the world – providing inspiration for multiple classic movie adaptations and award-winning plays since its creation in 1960. Last, it is simply one of the books that we were all required to read in our years as students.

No matter what the cherished tome means to you, chances are you have in fact read it. It is a book few have been able to, or chosen to, escape from reading over the years.

On the eve of the release of Harper Lee’s work Go Set a Watchman, readers are more than excited to have another taste of an author they never dreamed would actually write again. In fact, rumors have abounded for years that Lee possibly did not even write the original herself. Once she did not follow her debut work with another title after over fifty years, many claimed that it was instead her childhood friend Truman Capote who must have penned the classic.

Now, the long awaited follow up has arrived but may confuse some readers because it was supposedly written before To Kill a Mockingbird. Following an adult Jean Louise “Scout” Finch back to Maycomb, Alabama for a visit, the novel was supposedly the first submitted to publishers, but was turned down in favor of a rewrite with younger characters in place. One could argue the new work is both a sequel and a prequel in that regard.

Just weeks before the July 14th release date, Go Set a Watchman has already proven it is one for the record books. It’s claimed the distinct honor of being the most pre-ordered book in its publisher HarperCollins’ history. Another detail that marks it as unique is the lack of press and reviews that will follow it into publication. Harper Lee herself is said to not be doing any press for the book release due to her advanced age and health issues following a stroke in 2007. Many will see this as confirmation for or against the belief that she possibly didn’t endorse the release of this accidentally discovered manuscript in the first place. To the end, it seems Lee will remain a figure who will forever be cloaked in dramatic mystery.

The real question for many readers and critics alike will be, can Go Set a Watchman stand on its own two feet beyond its predecessor or will it forever walk in the shadow of To Kill a Mockingbird? Sales of the former have risen as the release date draws near, no doubt showing that many will choose to refresh their memory prior to taking the plunge into the new work. In the end no matter how you choose to enjoy Go Set a Watchman, there is simply no denying it is one of the biggest books of the year if not the decade.

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