Monday, 9 February 2015

A story behind the news.

After many decades since the publication of her only published novel to date, it's been announced that Harper Lee is to have a new novel published. A story which I'm sure you're familiar with but you might be scratching your head over a certain controversy surrounding this event A peculiar narrative has coalesced around the comments of some notable figures, that is: she's being taken advantage of by unscrupulous publishers. Kind of odd notion that isn't it but it's gained a certain currency amid the media coverage. I wonder why that should be, you might ask, if you're of a mind to ponder anomalous media output. Well allow me to explain, what's not being mentioned in the media, is a rumour that has been common currency in the literary world for many years. To put it baldly, this rumour concerns the speculation that To Kill A Mockingbird isn't entirely Lee's own work, rather it was written, or at least heavily edited by her friend, Truman Capote. You see, now things are starting to make sense aren't they? Indeed since it seems that the new novel is going to be based on Lee's original, recently rediscovered, draft for the work, you might be forgiven for entertaining the notion that the game is up, if  you're of a mind to believe rumours that is.

Personally I'm have nothing invested in the veracity or otherwise of this rumour but it's always interesting to note the sophistry of those who are invested in such questions. Although Capote publicly denied the rumour, attacks on his personal integrity figure prominently, today we can't have recourse to crude allusions to his sexual proclivities, rather he's referenced as a person with an enormous ego and gift for self promotion, cos those are absolutely despicable attributes aren't they? I enjoy reading when the author utilises written word to offer an insight themselves or shed light on their own view of the world. The analysis of the prose in question, often presents a marvellous example of such insight: the voice is wrong for Capote, blah blah blah, yeah have these people done much actually reading, cos that seems incredibly naive? Such apparent naivety isn't born through inexperience though, it's the inevitable consequence that arises through attempting to impose a rounded narrative on events that are the subject of speculation rather than fact. Anyway I'm sure this story will rumble on to its deeply equivocal conclusion in the press.


  1. Mary Shelley was subject to the same sort of speculation - that her hubby, Percy Bysshe Shelley, had actually written (or heavily revised) Frankenstein rather than her. Some people seem to think that women can't write.

    1. People bring all sorts of preconceptions to questions like this, this one seems me to be a storm in teacup. If it weren't the weighty reputation of the work itself no one would care either way and both Capote and Lee seem to agree on the correct attribution. Dodgy dealings do go on in the publishing world, at lot more than is generally recognised, I could relate a recent story about a very accomplished author trying to sneak old song lyrics out as his own poetry but that would get me in a lot of trouble.