Saturday, 31 July 2010

Weekly Geeks – 50 years of “To Kill A Mockingbird © Harper Lee”


July 11th marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, and arguably one of the most influential cultural books of its kind in the U.S.

Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? When did you first read it? Did it affect the way you think about race and class in the U.S.? Do you agree that it's an influential and/or important book?

If you read the book but don't live in the U.S., how did the novel influence your opinions about race in the U.S.?

Here's a link to one of the many stories about the novel's anniversary. Have you come across any other interesting stories about the book or the author, Harper Lee?

What other novels have you read that have affected the way you view culture, either your own or others?

My Thoughts.

This week the Geekers are asked to looked back at our first time with To Kill a Mockingbird (TKMB), I read this book for the first time during the summer between my primary and high school years and my love for this book has not waned – not by an inch.

As a young girl whose reading literature at the time consisted of stuff like The Year in San Fernando, Some Mills & Boons, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and such books, reading TKMB was simply a pleasure.

As a teenager I connected immediately with Scout Finch, In a way I had me my own "Boo" Radley in our neighbourhood and the family dynamics presented in the book was one I knew only too well. Over the years as the analysis of the book and how it relates to today's society and all the other fiction/real world descriptions got branded about by different people who read this book got more and more grandiose – for me I always look at this book as really one of the books that highlighted one of the best summers of my life.

I met characters that even after twenty odd years – I have not forgotten them.

The lesson, concept, plot line is as relevant today as it was when the book was written.

It is one of those book that crosses a whole lot of societies barrier – It connected my entire sixth form from our drama club to our debating outings.

Keeper shelf material  - I still have my original hard cover copy filled with notes and autographs from friend of the day.

It went on to film adaptation and coupling the magic of the  book with  Gregory Peck – It’s a winner of a film…

When I eventually got the book as one of the text for my literature exam I have read the book all of five times already – My teacher at the time  had us take it apart and there is so much issue, lessons, value, moral judgement  and love wrapped up in this book that really some of us got it and some didn’t but not one of the group of year nine did not love it…

I still remember one thing that the teacher said  during  one of those early  literature  lesson “Lee wrote what she knew and she wrote from the heart and that more than anything else makes a truly great story”

I still believe that up to this day.  Lee’s work wasn’t the reinvention of the wheel – she used her skill as a writer to write what she knew and she gave it her all and that made TKMB magic.

There really is no excuse not to have read this book – or watch the film. Happy 50th To Kill a Mockingbird.

Here are a few other novels that I have read that have affected the way I view culture, my own or others.

Roots – Alex Haley

Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys

Peyton Place - Grace Metalious

The Year in San Fernando - Michael Anthony

The Colour Purple - Alice Walker

Animal Farm - George Orwell

Have you guys read TKMB or any other books that have affected the way you view culture, either your own or others?

6 Speak To Me:

Chris on 31 July 2010 at 16:57 said...

I've read the book once, probably 30 years ago now, so I don't remember much about it. And I haven't seen the film, although I adore Gregory Peck. Hmm....

Vegetarian Cannibal on 31 July 2010 at 17:53 said...

Hrmm...

The book was OK. A little condescending but at least it got white people thinking about race. *sigh*

Animal Farm was, IMO, a much BETTER book about class/race/politics. Unlike Mockingbird, the pages didn't ooze with this well-meaning, but patronizing arrogance and ignorance. So many books about racism (written by white authors) seem to end this way. At least for me. *rolls eyes*

Animal Farm didn't have that problem. :D I LOVE that book!

Kerrie on 1 August 2010 at 02:59 said...

I read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD with students in 1968 or thereabouts when it was included in the English syllabus. I don't remember that we focussed on the racial aspects, but more on how people who were "different" were treated. I have a poll over on my blog

The comment about ANIMAL FARM is interesting. Here is Australia books like DR ZHIVAGO (with an accompanying film) also had huge impact. One I remember well is A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS - it had the ability to bring history alive

gautami tripathy on 1 August 2010 at 03:21 said...

I read it more than 20 years back but it sytill very vivid in my mind.You have made very valid points.

Here is my Weekly Geeks post!

Bernadette in Australia on 1 August 2010 at 06:39 said...

I identified with Scout too and learn something new from the book each time I read it. And I agree that the film with Gregory Peck is one of the few adaptations that does justice to its source material.

Erotic Horizon on 1 August 2010 at 18:44 said...

@Chris..

If you get the time please have a go at the film - even after all these years it is still a powerful produciton...

:)