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I can't link to the Tribune anymore so I am pasting an interesting editorial here about Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman." Has anyone read it?
quote:
Draft: n. a rough or preliminary sketch of a piece of writing.

First, we want to assure you that this is the final version of this editorial. There was an earlier draft, but it was swiftly moved to the trash as we sharpened our writing and tightened our thinking. We believe this is the version, the only one, that deserves publishing.

Not so with the once-immutable American classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird." You thought you knew its story and its characters: Harper Lee's 1960 near-perfect telling of the events of one fateful summer in fictional Maycomb, Ala., through the eyes of a young Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and friend Dill. Their scary neighbor, Boo Radley. Culpernia the housekeeper, Aunt Alexandra and poor Tom Robinson. And, above everyone, Atticus Finch, that rare literary character whose unwavering sense of fairness would influence generations of young readers coming to terms with the racial and social justice issues that still smolder.

But, it turns out, there was much more to the story. The fictional Atticus, like real people, did waver.

We know this because some 55 years later, improbably, there's a new Harper Lee book about Scout and her father, Atticus, and some of our other favorite characters (though not all of them) called "Go Set a Watchman." It's not exactly a new book, though.

When news broke in February that another Harper Lee manuscript had been discovered and would be published as a companion to "Mockingbird," speculation and conspiracy theories swirled. Was it a sequel? Was it an early draft of "Mockingbird?" Or was it a separate, different novel? Publisher HarperCollins called it a "newly discovered novel."

"It's a prequel sequel, written before 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' You get a sense of the character development as Harper Lee imagined it in the beginning. It is quite an interesting structure," said Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp., which owns HarperCollins.

A prequel sequel? We think it's a lot of rationalization for cashing in on what is little more than an early manuscript that was yet to be edited and shouldn't have been published. "Go Set a Watchman" was the original title of "Mockingbird," and the novel released Tuesday is, by most accounts (including Lee's), simply an early draft of the story that eventually was reworked into "Mockingbird."

It's unclear if the famously private Lee, now 89 and living in an assisted living home where she is nearly deaf and blind, really wanted "Watchman" published — her lawyer Tonja Carter says so, but others are skeptical. And some say Lee's recently deceased sister, Alice, her lawyer and protector for so many decades, might've prevented it.

But the book is paying off for HarperCollins. It set an all-time preorder record for the publisher in early June, and Amazon said Friday it had become the most preordered book for the online retailer since the final Harry Potter book.

"Watchman" is set in the late 1950s and tells the story of Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, a 26-year-old New Yorker returning to Maycomb, where she confronts the racism, bigotry and social upheaval in her hometown. Her father, Atticus — that pillar of moral strength, forever strappingly handsome (like a Gregory Peck, frozen in his 1962 role as Atticus) and noble and good — is now around 70, creaky with arthritis and determined to keep his segregated world just so. He pals around with the Ku Klux Klan and says racist things that Scout can't reconcile with her memories of a better Atticus. (Her flashbacks give glimpses of the story that became the heart of "Mockingbird.")

We can't reconcile the change either, as much as this elder Atticus might illustrate the way people's views ebb and flow through life. But a fictional character can remain unchanged, so why not leave Atticus be? With so many real-life characters tumbling off their pedestals (Bill Cosby comes to mind), why knock such a noble literary hero off his?

Read "Watchman" if you're curious to see how a first draft looks, but we plan to hold on to the Atticus we already know, the one who cautioned: "There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible."

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I haven't quite finished Go Set a Watchman.

Here's a link to the Chicago Tribune article: [URL= http://www.chicagotribune.com/...20150714-story.html] Why not leave Atticus be?[/URL]

Here's a review from The New York Times:


quote:
Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’

By RANDALL KENNEDY
JULY 14, 2015

In 1992, a law professor named Monroe Freedman published an article in Legal Times, a magazine for practitioners. He asserted that Atticus Finch, the iconic hero of Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” ought not be lauded as a role model for attorneys. Lee had portrayed Finch as zealously representing a black man, Tom Robinson, despite intense disapproval from many whites. What’s more, Robinson was accused of having raped a white woman. Not only did Finch ably defend Robinson in court; one evening he also faced down a mob that sought to abduct the defendant from jail in order to lynch him.

Generations have admired Finch for his fidelity to due process even at the risk of unpopularity and personal harm. Freedman noted, however, that Finch did not volunteer to represent Robinson; he did so only upon assignment by the court, saying that he had “hoped to get through life without a case of this kind.” Freedman also pointed out that Finch abstained from challenging the obvious illicit racial exclusion of blacks from the jury that wrongly convicted Robinson and the racial segregation in the courtroom itself, where blacks were confined to the balcony. At the time of this fictional trial, there would have been good strategic reasons for forgoing objection to these customs. Confrontation would have had little chance at success and a large likelihood of provoking retaliation against the defendant. In Freedman’s view, however, those considerations were not decisive in influencing Atticus Finch. Rather, Freedman inferred that Finch failed to oppose Jim Crow custom because he was at home with it. He told his children that the Ku Klux Klan was merely “a political organization” and that the leader of the lynch mob was “basically a good man” albeit with “blind spots along with the rest of us.” To Freedman, Finch’s acts and omissions defined a lawyer who lived his life as a “passive participant” in “pervasive injustice.”

This column by a legal academic, published in a relatively obscure trade journal, so enraged admirers of Atticus Finch that this newspaper published an article about the column and the impassioned responses it provoked.
Continue reading the main story
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Dismissed by some as the ravings of a curmudgeon, Freedman’s impression of Atticus Finch has now been largely ratified by none other than his creator, Harper Lee herself. The most dramatic feature of her “new” novel, “Go Set a Watchman” — written before “To Kill a Mockingbird” but published 55 years afterward — is the revelation that Atticus, the supposed paragon of probity, courage and wisdom, was a white supremacist. In the mid-1930s, when the events of “To Kill a Mockingbird” transpire, white dominance was so completely established that Finch could blithely disregard any political dissatisfactions blacks felt and still get credit from his adoring daughter — and from millions of readers — for defending an innocent man.

Two decades later, when the events of “Go Set a Watchman” take place, white dominance has been shaken. Blacks are demanding the vote and attacking racial segregation. Finch’s previous unflappable patrician calm now gives way to defensive anxiety. He defends segregationist propaganda with titles like “The Black Plague.” He derides the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.), especially its lawyers. He rails against the prospect of blacks leaving their “place.” “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and ­churches and theaters?” he asks his daughter, Jean Louise (also known affectionately as Scout). “Do you want them in our world?” He veers between expressing condescension — “Honey, you do not seem to understand that the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people” — and expressing contempt: “Can you blame the South for wanting to resist an invasion by people who are apparently so ashamed of their race they want to get rid of it?”

The audience for these questions, Jean Louise, the grown-up Scout, is bereft of her beloved childhood companions. Jem, her brother, has suffered the fate of their mother: death at an early age from a sudden heart attack. Her mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley, is gone; and Dill, Scout and Jem’s irrepressible summertime chum (a character modeled on Lee’s longtime friend Truman Capote), is largely absent too.

The most striking new presence is Henry Clinton, a hard-working young lawyer in Atticus’s practice who hopes to marry Jean Louise. She appears to be on the verge of succumbing when she learns to her dismay that Henry, like Atticus, is a member of the Maycomb County Citizens’ Council. Established in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education, White Citizens’ Councils were tonier alternatives to the Klan. They were designed to be respectable organizations that would enable businessmen and professionals to thwart racial desegregation.

Henry figures in two of the most memorable scenes in the novel. In one, he climbs a water tower to save Jean Louise. Still ignorant about sex as a sixth grader, she believes she is pregnant because a boy at school put his tongue in her mouth. She considers jumping off the water tower to commit suicide to spare her family disgrace. In another scene, Henry escorts Jean Louise to the high school prom. She is wearing falsies that stray. “Her right false bosom was in the center of her chest, and the other was nearly under her left armpit.” He hugs her close to prevent others from seeing what has happened, comforts her outside of the school gymnasium, and throws the falsies away. When they land on a sign honoring students who have joined the armed forces after graduation, the school’s outraged principal demands that the guilty party turn herself in. Henry, with Atticus’s counsel, concocts a scheme in which each of the girls at the school writes a note saying the offending falsies look like her own, ensuring that no one bears the full weight of the principal’s anger.

Although “Go Set a Watchman” sporadically generates the literary force that has buoyed “To Kill a Mockingbird” for over half a century, the new novel is not nearly as gripping as the courtroom drama and coming-of-age story it eventually became. The first hundred pages are largely desultory, though they do create a sense of anticipation. Then Lee begins to introduce the reader to Jean Louise’s discovery that Atticus and Henry have joined the White Citizens’ Council. Her disappointment, which develops into anger, suggests an opportunity to explore a dense, rich, complicated subject: How should you deal with someone who has loved you unstintingly when you find out that this same person harbors ugly, dangerous social prejudices?

Unfortunately, Lee’s response is uninspired. In an ending that is all too compressed, she portrays Jean Louise as teetering between a moral revulsion that makes her love for Atticus and Henry impossible and an acceptance of the men despite their racism. Lee’s rendering of Jean Louise’s ambivalence is undeveloped. One yearns for a narrative that conveys the contending emotions with vividness and detail, as the heroine grapples with the intricacies of the problem: Is it wrong to revoke affection because of disgust with the ideology of someone who has nurtured you all your life? Is it intolerably dictatorial to impose a political litmus test on loved ones? Is it complacent to refuse to? If morality compels censuring the retrograde beliefs and conduct of lovers, friends and family, how should that be done? And then what?

Alas, in “Go Set a Watchman,” the reader is given only a sketch in which Jean Louise is hurriedly made to try on one reaction and then another without earned resolution or depth.

Would it have been better for this earlier novel to have remained unpublished? Though it does not represent Harper Lee’s best work, it does reveal more starkly the complexity of Atticus Finch, her most admired character. “Go Set a Watchman” demands that its readers abandon the immature sentimentality ingrained by middle school lessons about the nobility of the white savior and the mesmerizing performance of Gregory Peck in the film adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

But the conversation doesn’t end with Monroe Freedman’s complaint about Atticus Finch’s limitations or with Jean Louise’s disillusionment with her previously idolized father. After Lee sold the manuscript we’re now reading, she worked hard on revisions. At her editor’s urging, she shifted the novel’s time frame from the 1950s to the Depression, away from the messy adult problems of a young woman coming to understand the racism of her father, and back to childhood, where seen through Scout’s eyes, Atticus Finch could become the hero that millions of readers love. The editor’s shrewd suggestion belonged to a specific time and place, too. In America in 1960, the story of a decent white Southerner who defends an innocent black man charged with raping a white woman had the appeal of a fairy tale and the makings of a popular movie. Perhaps even more promising, though, was the novel Lee first envisioned, the story of Jean Louise’s adult conflicts between love and fairness, decency and loyalty. Fully realized, that novel might have become a modern masterpiece.
 
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Are you enjoying it, Tinman, or do you think, like the Tribune editors, that it was a draft and never should have been released?
 
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I finished the book today and, yes I enjoyed it. It was pretty choppy and confusing reading at times, with lots of flash-backs and literary allusions. The ending was terrible and raised more questions than it answered.

I wouldn't call it a first draft. It was a completely different book, though she did borrow from it in writing To Kill a Mockingbird, as this article points out. I don't think she ever planned to publish Go Set a Watchman. I think she would have revised it first.

I'll have to reread both books, but not right now.

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I am not sure, Tinman. Here is a very similar article from the NY Times. I am not convinced that this wasn't a first draft.
 
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Perhaps it was a first draft. It was written first and parts of it were used in To Kill a Mockingbird, but the books are so unlike each other I consider them separate. It looks to me that Lee, rather than revising Go Set a Watchmen, wrote a completely new book, though she did borrow from the first.

This article, Harper Lee, Author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Is to Publish a Second Novel, supports the idea that it is a completely different book:
quote:
Although written first, “Go Set a Watchman” is a continuation of the same story, with overlapping themes and characters. But Ms. Lee abandoned the manuscript after her editor, who was captivated by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, told her to write a new book from the young heroine’s perspective and to set it during her childhood.

and
quote:
He recalled, “She said: ‘This isn’t the sequel. This is the parent to ‘Mockingbird.’ ”


But this article, The Invisible Hand Behind Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ indicates it was the first of many drafts:
quote:
[But as Ms. Hohoff saw it, the manuscript was by no means fit for publication. It was, as she described it, “more a series of anecdotes than a fully conceived novel.” During the next couple of years, she led Ms. Lee from one draft to the next until the book finally achieved its finished form and was retitled “To Kill a Mockingbird.”/i]

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I think Harper Lee, or her sister, would have released it before this, had it been something different.
 
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Harper Lee never intended to publish it. She set it aside and eventually came up with To Kill a Mockingbird. Whether she changed her mind in her later years is debatable. Her lawyer, Alice Carter, claims she first learned of Go Set a Watchman in 2014, though others claim she learned of it during a meeting in a 2011.

About the latter point, the Onion said
quote:
Boo Radley, who has lived a contented life of seclusion in Alabama for decades, is dragged into the spotlight and coerced into signing away the rights to his long-dormant manuscript

There has been a lot of controversy over Go Set a Watchman, pro and con. One independent bookstore is offering refunds to dissatisfied customers who bought the book: Why Brilliant Books is offering refunds to customers who purchased Go Set A Watchman, July 31, 2015.

Joe Nocera of The New York Times summed up the negative reactions to the book: The Harper Lee ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Fraud JULY 24, 2015

But Rabbi Marc Gellman seemed to think there was some redeeming value: ‘Go Set a Watchman’ has lessons to teach July 31, 2015
 
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