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Author Topic: The Journey to Publication for Go Set a Watchman  (Read 400 times)

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August 16, 2015, 05:32:57 PM

paint it Black

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The circumstances behind the publication of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman are unique, to say the least!  Apparently, this book was rejected by the publisher, who recommended instead that Ms. Lee write a story focusing on Jean Louise's youth.  Although it was written three years before her classic To Kill a Mockingbird, the story of Go Set a Watchman takes place twenty years later, in the same setting and with many of the same characters that readers have loved for decades.  Do you think the publisher made the right decision in asking Harper Lee to rewrite this book?  If you've read both books, can you imagine what other suggestions the publisher may have made that resulted in the classic book that so many know and love?

As a rejected first draft of what later became To Kill a Mockingbird, many people feared that Go Set a Watchman would be too unpolished for publication, even though Ms. Lee herself declined having any additional editing done before its release.  What is your opinion on the quality of this book?  Is it fine "as is", would it have succeeded more as a separate story from To Kill a Mockingbird with some additional editing and re-working, or do you think it would have been better if it had not been published at all?  :ron:

How do you see Go Set a Watchman's place in history?  Due to its predecessor, do you think is it an instant classic?

Unlike many book-to-film adaptations, the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird was widely adored.  Can you envision a film version of Go Set a Watchman being made?  What might it be like?



Cuppa is discussing Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman.  Please join us!
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May 27, 2016, 11:01:01 PM
Reply #1

Laura W

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I like the "additional editing and re-working" option.  With that, it would have been a fine YA book to have been published in the mid-1950s.  Not memorable, but a book I think a lot of teenagers - and adults - would have enjoyed.

Personally, I think this book was probably rejected by the publisher because of the very controversial political and social stances it took, especially its commentary on race relations in  America.  A hot topic even today; a MUCH more contentious one then.  It also deals with classism in southern America.  And the role of women.  And religion.  All in all, a book that deals with - or at least touches on - any number of issues a US publisher in the 1950s might want to shy away from.

Mockingbird does focus on race relations and attitudes towards same, but is far less political etc. re other issues.  Mainly, it is about the law and how it was/is applied and should be applied; it is also about how the mentally ill are unfairly stigmatized (re Boo); about doing the right thing in the face of opposition; and setting an example - good or bad - for one's children.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a FAR more polished and focused story.  No question.  And I loved the idea of telling it from the point of view of the little girl.   :clap:  But I totally don't agree with the publisher that Go Set a Watchman was not worth printing and selling.

lw
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