Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Go Set a Watchman" - The Sequel-Prequel of "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Today Harper Lee announced that she will publish in July a sequel to her only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. In my mind that immediately set off an alarming question:Has Ole Harper really been pecking away for the past sixty+ years on this sequel? Is she pulling a J.D. Salinger on us?

My first reaction, however, was a sigh of relief; not so much because of the new work being published, but rather proof that the rumors could be put to rest that Truman Capote, a good friend of Harper Lee, did not write all or large parts of "To Kill a Mockingbird." How could we have a new book from Ole Harper if Capote has been dead these 30 years? Literary affirmation is at hand! I thought to myself. This was immediately followed by wonder as to how similar her writing style would be after all these decades. Would it be less dense? Choppier? More verbose?

But my mind had raced too fast as it often does for all things literary. As I read further I learned that "Go Set a Watchman" was penned in the 1950s and actually written before "To Kill a Mockingbird." It is a sequel-prequel, if you will. Apparently "Go Set a Watchman" was tabled and "To Kill a Mockingbird" was published to great success. An agent recently found the old manuscript of "Go Set a Watchman" and dusted it off. Even Ole Harper thought it was gone forever.

The story is almost too good to be true. Hmmm.

What all this means is that since "Go Set a Watchman" was written in the 1950s, the question of whether Capote wrote it, too, will remain. So many lingering questions remain. Why is this the first time the world has heard of the manuscript? Why didn't Ole Harper publish it right after the wild success of "To Kill a Mockingbird"? How could she apparently forget all about the first novel she wrote, especially when it is shackled alongside "To Kill a Mockingbird"? How could she misplace the only copy of it and not sound alarm bells when it went missing?

Unless it was Capote's.

Yes, all these questions seem more plausibly answered if Capote wrote large parts or all of "Go Set a Watchman" the sequel-prequel of "To Kill a Mockingbird." Perhaps. Just perhaps.

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