February 19, 2016

Harper Lee has died.

The much-read, much-loved author was 89.

ADDED: A look back: "Attacking Atticus Finch for not taking rape seriously... is nothing new.."

34 comments:

Unknown said...

Did the reviews of Go Set a Watchman kill her?

Ann Althouse said...

Scalia and Harper Lee were both 89. Here's a page showing famous people who are 89.

The most popular is Sidney Poitier. Second most: Fidel Castro.

Harper Lee was 5th.

rcocean said...

"Atticus Finch — the crusading lawyer of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” whose principled fight against racism and inequality inspired generations of readers"

The essence of the New York Times world view in one sentence.

mccullough said...

Scalia was 79. Born in 1936

traditionalguy said...

The last leaf of great southern writers. Well not yet, Pat Conroy is still alive.

mccullough said...

Cormac McCarthy is southern.

Bay Area Guy said...

Atticus Finch - Micro-aggressor -- Male Sexist Pig -- Women don't lie about rape! -- No Means No!

Oops, I forgot. Wrong left-wing narrative, my bad.

Ann Althouse said...

"the crusading lawyer" is a very poor reading of the actual text. The man is a dutiful lawyer.

rhhardin said...

I remember a WWII letter back to Germany reading "mother is deceased," that the US censor thought suspicious and changed to "mother is dead."

The reply from Germany, "Mother is dead or deceased?"

tim in vermont said...

Go Set a Watchman wasn't a bad novel. It was much more obvious in that novel that tomboy Scout was Lesbian Jean Louise Finch, not that there's anything wrong with that. However; To Kill a Mockingbird was a great re-write and much improved the story. What a great editor to adviser her so well.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ann Althouse said...

"the crusading lawyer" is a very poor reading of the actual text. The man is a dutiful lawyer.

I would say that sitting on the jailhouse steps to prevent a lynching goes beyond the duties of a lawyer.

But you are correct, he is not out crusading, as that would be offensive to Muslims.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

traditionalguy said...Well not yet, Pat Conroy is still alive.

Not to jinx anyone but I saw him speak about a year and a half ago and he did not seem well then...his wife was very energetic, though.

Jason said...

"Did you see Atticus's cross? Weak. Very weak. I like defense attorneys whose innocent clients aren't convicted."

#TrumpReviewsTheClassics

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Richwine said...

I always did intensely dislike that book.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh! Sorry. Scalia was only 79.

Ann Althouse said...

89 would be very old to be a Justice.

John Paul Stevens served until he was 90 and is still alive at 95.

Crimso said...

"John Paul Stevens served until he was 90 and is still alive at 95."

Perhaps he could serve as an adjunct until such time as the position is filled.

What other authors have been so much-read, while having written so little?

Carter Wood said...

Not so-much read as Harper Lee, but A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole comes close.

I thought it was incredibly overrated.

EMD said...

"What other authors have been so much-read, while having written so little?"

I always want to say Salinger, but he wrote a good deal more than Lee, I suppose.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

I don't think I have ever read to kill a mockingbird. Nor have I seen the movie, I don't think.

What do you all recommend?

Should I finally read it at this late stage?

See the movie?

Neither? Both?

John Henry

The Cracker Emcee said...

See the movie. Really, it's the movie that's iconic. Without Gregory Peck, high school freshmen would have stopped reading TKaM long ago.

Based on his first four novels alone, McCarthy can pack Faulkner's lunch and eat it as well.

dustbunny said...

I saw the movie when I was twelve or so and then read the book. It was impossible to not see and hear Gregory Peck while reading the story. I did wonder how different the book would have been with out a movie star overridding my imagining of the character of Atticus. I still think Capote hugely influenced the voice of the novel.

William said...

The movie is good at any age. Probably best to have read Dead Bird while still young......I think it's mostly women and southerners that love this book. I read it, but it didn't make much of a dent....,,,There are some exceptions but southern writers seem to write more about the problems of the gentry class than of the rest. It was nice of the black people to volunteer as a backdrop to accentuate the nobility of Atticus. It wouldn't look anywhere near so noble with a bunch of Snopes acting all oppressed and beleaguered.....A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is my favorite. Maybe it's a regional thing.

William said...

I'd like to see a version of A Streetcar Named Desire with a transgendered male playing Blanche and a black man playing Stanley. These southern writers need freshening from time to time.

dustbunny said...

Flannery O'Conner famously dismissed TKaMB as 'a children's book'. In a discussion on this blog of To Set a Watchman, Althouse suggested Mockingbird was more of a YA novel.

ken in tx said...

One of the things I never understood was the title. I grew up in Alabama, and 'To kill a Mockingbird is a Sin,' was not a saying there. Mockingbirds are vicious attackers and will knock your hat off your head when they dive bomb you from behind. If they sing outside your window all night long, that means somebody in your family is gonna die. Killing them was not a sin. That's why God made Red Rider BB guns.

Carter Wood said...

The Sissy Spacek audio book of To Kill a Mockingbird is extraordinary.

MathMom said...

Is Obama going to Harper Lee's funeral?

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

lol "crusading." What utter nonsense. I present to you:


(Atticus, in conversation with his brother) "Before I’m through, I intend to jar the jury a bit—I think we’ll have a reasonable chance on appeal, though. I really can’t tell at this stage, Jack. You know, I’d hoped to get through life without a case of this kind, but John Taylor [trial judge] pointed at me and said, ‘You’re It.’”

as well as

(Miss Maudie, their neighbor and friend) "We’re the safest folks in the world ... We’re so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we’ve got men like Atticus to go for us."
(Jem) "Wish the rest of the county thought that."
(Miss Maudie) "You’d be surprised how many of us do."
(Jem) "Who? ... Who in this town did one thing to help Tom Robinson, just who?"
(Miss Maudie) "His colored friends for one thing, and people like us. People like Judge Taylor. People like Mr. Heck Tate. Stop eating and start thinking, Jem. Did it ever strike you that Judge Taylor naming Atticus to defend that boy was no accident? That Judge Taylor might have had his reasons for naming him?"
(Scout, narrating) "This was a thought. Court-appointed defenses were usually given to Maxwell Green, Maycomb’s latest addition to the bar, who needed the experience. Maxwell Green should have had Tom Robinson’s case."
(Miss Maudie) "You think about that ... It was no accident. I was sittin‘ there on the porch last night, waiting. I waited and waited to see you all come down the sidewalk, and as I waited I thought, Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step—it’s just a baby-step, but it’s a step."



The entire story is hardly about crusading, but about something far more subtle; about answering the call to do quiet good within one's own community and culture. Which brings me to my second point of contention, the bizarre reference to inequality--Atticus didn't give a hoot about that; he 100% accepted the diverse and stratified society of which he was a part, and taught his children to accept that everyone has a place and some are above and some are below, and yet you treat everyone with dignity and respect and you do right when you can within that framework of inequality. I challenge those ninnies at the NYT to come up with one example of Atticus questioning the supposed inequality of his town and culture.

Laura said...

I've always liked "Member of the Wedding," by Carson McCullers. Ethel Waters gives good nuance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsTVF-uc1u4&ebc=ANyPxKrAl2HpWdXr8wd0BHwJs2YrHeP-o06qg867WwREkMA0OQKZYeS3flF97nXdx7Ku6paqW0oqbUCFX-vWhFMorxvs_ocBqg.

Who knew Julie Harris was that old? I may have to pick up a copy at the library. Well worth a revisit tonight.

Thanks.

Mary E. Glynn said...

Does that second link go where you want it to go?
Is it supposed to be a fresh article with that quote?

Just catching up on reading now, but you've linked twice to the obits, I think, unless the computer is not working on my end...

kerani said...

I also advise reading the book before seeing the movie.

Others have made reference to the rape accusations and the implications of that, so I will point to the stratified society presented in the book, how the division was pierced in many places by specific individuals while at the same time, both blacks and whites resisted the majority of attempts to wear away that division.

Northern friends tend to miss and/or minimize the individual ways that people went about living their lives disregarding the division, and instead just point at the frank resistance to overt challenges to the status quo. (They especially tend to only see the resistance by the white community, and miss the black community's support of the stratification.)

Southern friends pick up on these elements in the book much more easily - but (especially non-blacks) use the low-key, quiet, contemporary "struggle" depicted in TKaMB as "proof" that change was happening in the South, that racial bias was slowly wearing away, and that there was no need of the loud, turbulent (and outsider-driven) Civil Rights Movement - that, given enough time, the South would have shifted in biases to more closely resemble an ideal, if not the Northern one. In time. In time.

*shrugs* All I know is that the novel was sent in the 1930's, was published in 1960, and I still regularly read reviews that act as though Scout and Mayella Ewell are the only female characters. Calpurnia, especially, gets "forgotten" by people trying to write impressive thoughts on the novel's depiction of the tragedy of blacks and women under the thumb of southern white men.