Forwards and backwards : reading Harper Lee across time and text.


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The recent discovery of Harper Lee’s manuscript, Go Set a Watchman, irrevocably changed the way readers approach her original text, To Kill a Mockingbird. Introducing a found manuscript and presenting it as a distinct work presents many challenges to readers in regards to the way they read the two texts together and apart. This trio of essays explores Lee’s two works and this uniquely historic textual relationship by first examining the texts together through their publishing history, then reconsidering the appeal of Mockingbird to young readers in light of Watchman, and concluding with an application of the major biblical allusions presented by Watchman to Mockingbird’s text. Central to each of these studies is the fluidity with which one can read the texts: either forwards through the textual chronology from Scout to Jean Louis or backwards in time according to the order in which Lee wrote the texts.



Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird. Go Set a Watchman. Young adult literature. Publishing. Civil rights.