By Nilofer Afridi Qazi
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee without a doubt is a book that moved me along with millions across the globe and remains more than a book, the book was an experience, which had tremendous influence on how I looked at people, class, culture & history. Deeply moving. No matter how often I re read it, or watch Gregory Peck’s movie or see an adaptation Play it brings me to tears. Many books have, such as many other novels, Gorky Park (Martin Cruz Smith), Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
, War & Peace (Leo Tolstoy), A Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez), Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez), 1984, (George Orwell), Lord of the Flies (William Golding) & I would include A Suitable Boy (Vickram Seth) to this list, these were more than just books, the stories & characters reached out and pulled me into their world, their mind, heart, pain and joy their experiences were real because they understood. Together we stood.
The recent controversial release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman is a travesty. Why? Because this book was a draft of the classic to Kill a Mocking Bird and should have remained as such. Harper Lee now over 90 years old probably is in no position (even if she wanted to) to challenge this violation. How many authors would like their drafts of their final published work to be shared with world? Furthermore having created characters, which have resonated across the world to flagrantly undermine that for what? Publicity? Money? Certainly not benefiting the author Lee, in her twilight years did she deserve this? Does she have any control over what her publishers and managers are doing to her legacy? Has anyone investigated who is benefiting from this stunt?
As far as I am concerned Harper Lee wanted Atticus Fitch to be as he is in To Kill a Mockingbird, if she wanted us to see him in any other light she would have published her draft –but she didn’t for whatever reason & that is how it should have remained. Literally.