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Harper Lee


mike carey
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I am very sorry to hear that news. It was difficult to read even a few chapters of "Go Tell The Watchman," hope I got the title right.

 

That book was awful and I'm sure that Harper Lee had absolutely nothing to do with it being released. Once her sister -- who was her guardian -- was dead in 2014 that's when the vultures around Lee got to releasing that awful book.

 

And perhaps this is too soon (but it's not something that wasn't said when she was alive) but To Kill a Mockingbird, as a piece of literature, is vastly overrated. It's really rather mediocre in terms of writing style, etc. Harper Lee was no James, Austen, Greene, Updike and on and on and on. She didn't really write a book, she created a symbol. But maybe the time for pretending that it was some sort of literary masterpiece is over.

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And perhaps this is too soon (but it's not something that wasn't said when she was alive) but To Kill a Mockingbird, as a piece of literature, is vastly overrated. It's really rather mediocre in terms of writing style, etc. Harper Lee was no James, Austen, Greene, Updike and on and on and on. She didn't really write a book, she created a symbol. But maybe the time for pretending that it was some sort of literary masterpiece is over

 

Except the few chapters of "Watchman," I never read anything by Harper Lee. I agree with your comments about James, Austen, Greene, Updike. Let's leave it there.

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I think Flannery O'Connor got it exactly right about Mockingbird:

 

“When I was fifteen I would have loved it,” O’Connor wrote to a friend at the time. “I think for a child’s book it does all right. It’s interesting that all the folks that are buying it don’t know they’re reading a child’s book. Somebody ought to say what it is."

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I think Flannery O'Connor got it exactly right about Mockingbird:

 

“When I was fifteen I would have loved it,” O’Connor wrote to a friend at the time. “I think for a child’s book it does all right. It’s interesting that all the folks that are buying it don’t know they’re reading a child’s book. Somebody ought to say what it is."

Let's not forget that most of the fifteen-year-olds who are forced to read it don't remember anything else they're forced to read.

T

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I think Flannery O'Connor got it exactly right about Mockingbird:

 

“When I was fifteen I would have loved it,” O’Connor wrote to a friend at the time. “I think for a child’s book it does all right. It’s interesting that all the folks that are buying it don’t know they’re reading a child’s book. Somebody ought to say what it is."

 

I wouldn't go so far as Flannery did but point is well taken. In terms of pure writing style, it's just an average book.

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Defining "great" lit is a difficult task. Does one look at style? substance? social impact? entertainment value? Or some degree of all of them?

 

I found Go Set Watchman interesting as a study of Lee's early attempt at writing. I'd love to see the editor's copies and notes for both novels. That would be a lock the doors and turn off the phone weekend event!

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Defining "great" lit is a difficult task. Does one look at style? substance? social impact? entertainment value? Or some degree of all of them?

 

I found Go Set Watchman interesting as a study of Lee's early attempt at writing. I'd love to see the editor's copies and notes for both novels. That would be a lock the doors and turn off the phone weekend event!

 

I don't think defining "great" is all that difficult. As for whether something is great literature or not I know one thing. "Social impact" -- whatever that is -- has no place defining what is great writing. Something very poorly written can have great social impact, it still doesn't make it great writing.

 

You are never going to see editor's copies or notes for Go Set Watchman. I suspect the whole thing is a big fraud. Lee was completely gaga by the time it was published, she never did a single interview about it (all her "statements" were issued via her lawyer), her sister who guarded her closely had already died so we have no comment from her. The whole thing smells to high heaven.

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I don't think defining "great" is all that difficult. As for whether something is great literature or not I know one thing. "Social impact" -- whatever that is -- has no place defining what is great writing. Something very poorly written can have great social impact, it still doesn't make it great writing.

 

I completely agree.

 

But wouldn't it be better to discuss why you read James, Austen, Updike and Greene?

 

For me, the answer is because they provide a much richer reading experience than Harper Lee. That's why I read James, Austen, Updike, Greene and as well as many Russian, German and French author (the latter group in translation).

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"Social impact" -- whatever that is -- has no place defining what is great writing. Something very poorly written can have great social impact, it still doesn't make it great writing.

I think you and @amused1 were talking at cross purposes. Great writing is mainly (not exclusively) technical, how well was the writing executed. Great literature can also include how the piece affected the world to which it was delivered, or how it defined the period in which it is set. Sometimes a badly executed story can define a time or an issue.

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I think you and @amused1 were talking at cross purposes. Great writing is mainly (not exclusively) technical, how well was the writing executed. Great literature can also include how the piece affected the world to which it was delivered, or how it defined the period in which it is set. Sometimes a badly executed story can define a time or an issue.

 

I do not agree. Joyce, Thomas Mann and Proust (just some examples) write on several levels. Even if one reads Mann's "The Magic Mountain" several times, one has more and more appreciation for the book. It is even more true of Proust and Joyce.

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Great literature can also include how the piece affected the world to which it was delivered, or how it defined the period in which it is set

 

I am not sure that Boris Paternak's "Doctor Zhivago" is great literature, but it fits "how the piece affected the world to which it was delivered, or how it defined the period in which it is set."

 

Nikita Khrushchev admitted in his memoirs that he had not read Pasternak's Nobel Prize winning novel during his years in power, and, in retrospect he regretted the harsh treatment to which the author had been subjected (Archie Brown, The Rise and Fall of Communism, p. 264).

 

"To Kill A Mockingbird" also fits the quotes by Mike Carey I mentioned in paragraph two above. I greatly admire the way Harper Lee lived her life, as well as the total support from her older sister.

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I completely agree.

 

But wouldn't it be better to discuss why you read James, Austen, Updike and Greene?

 

For me, the answer is because they provide a much richer reading experience than Harper Lee. That's why I read James, Austen, Updike, Greene and as well as many Russian, German and French author (the latter group in translation).

 

Absolutely. I didn't think any explanation was needed. It was obvious :)

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I think you and @amused1 were talking at cross purposes. Great writing is mainly (not exclusively) technical, how well was the writing executed. Great literature can also include how the piece affected the world to which it was delivered, or how it defined the period in which it is set. Sometimes a badly executed story can define a time or an issue.

 

No, I think the word "great" is being mis-used here. There simply is no such thing as "great literature" that is badly executed. Period.

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Why does it matter whether To Kill A Mockingbird is great literature or merely much beloved by some? It's not as though Harper Lee was someone who had a hand in anti-gay policies.

 

Call me an old fuddy duddy, but outside of threads about such things as the death of Justice Scalia, who fits the above description, I don't get the point of engaging in quarrels over artistic merit in a thread about the artist's death. There's plenty of other threads for that, like the "Book Forum, Anyone?" thread.

 

You knew I'd get a plug in for that somewhere, didn't you?

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Why does it matter whether To Kill A Mockingbird is great literature or merely much beloved by some? It's not as though Harper Lee was someone who had a hand in anti-gay policies.

 

Call me an old fuddy duddy, but outside of threads about such things as the death of Justice Scalia, who fits the above description, I don't get the point of engaging in quarrels over artistic merit in a thread about the artist's death. There's plenty of other threads for that, like the "Book Forum, Anyone?" thread.

 

You knew I'd get a plug in for that somewhere, didn't you?

 

I can't make any sense of what you wrote above and the late Justice Scalia or anti-gay policies have to do with this discussion is beyond me.

 

You think when an artist dies one shouldn't discuss their artistic merits? In the annals of bizarro things to say that ranks in the top 10.

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Why does it matter whether To Kill A Mockingbird is great literature or merely much beloved by some? It's not as though Harper Lee was someone who had a hand in anti-gay policies.

 

Call me an old fuddy duddy, but outside of threads about such things as the death of Justice Scalia, who fits the above description, I don't get the point of engaging in quarrels over artistic merit in a thread about the artist's death. There's plenty of other threads for that, like the "Book Forum, Anyone?" thread.

 

You knew I'd get a plug in for that somewhere, didn't you?

 

QTR, most of the people who picked arguments in vitually every thread are no long here. It was before your time. Back then, MrMiniver would have been considered a moderate. I remember a friend sending me an email or PM saying 'you need to post to defend yourself from all the attacks. A lot has happened in the last 24 hours'.

 

It's the main reason I left this site for a while.

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