Goodbye Harper Lee

A rare picture of Harper Lee and Truman Capote together.

Time goes by really quickly. In two and a half months I will complete my second year at university. I still remember when I was in my gap year and wondering how I would fare all alone in a foreign country…

After graduating from high school in February 2013, I decided to take a gap year in order to grow more as a person. Whilst I was always reading the news and learning some things here and there, I wanted to reach another level. That’s how I set myself the challenge to read the best books of all time. Around July I had read some 10 classics before I discovered the Folio Society, which marked the beginning of a great love affair. At that time joining members had to buy four full-priced books. The four I chose were: Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, The Picture of Dorian Gray and To Kill a Mockingbird.

In September 2013, when I was supposed to be in university if I had not taken a gap year, I read To Kill a Mockingbird after finishing Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. Given how tedious reading the latter book was, To Kill a Mockingbird was a breath of fresh air. It was an absolute pleasure to read this little gem. Harper Lee’s death made me reminisce a lot about the book. It reminds me of how I wondered if Boo Radley did exist, of Scout being innocence personified, of how she witnessed the hatred adults can breed, of her shenanigans together with Jem and Dil, and of the righteous Atticus Finch. Whilst reading the book I was also unaware of all the novels awaiting me in the coming years; I was young in the mind back then.

I must confess one thing though. In 2014 and 2015 I read a lot of unforgettable novels: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Anna Karenina, Labyrinths, Disgrace, and Inheritance of Loss, among many others. I ended up thinking that To Kill a Mockingbird was not that great of a book; it lacked the allegories of Lord of the Flies, the magic realism in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ book, the horrors of Disgrace or the idiosyncrasies of God of Small Things, and I dismissed it as a little simple book meant to convey a message. The two years that elapsed, I guess, blurred my memories of it.

With Harper Lee’s death yesterday, I somehow felt that To Kill a Mockingbird died (I know it hasn’t,but…). I may be overdoing it, but it is the first time an author whose book I have read has passed away; the books I read are either by people who are already dead or by others who are, touch wood, no close to dying anytime soon. As stated above, her death reminded of many things and ,most importantly, of how I felt when I opened and closed the book every time I would pick it to read. I also realised that the best books oughtn’t be the most complex or multi-layered ones. That’s pretty much what I wanted to say, besides the fact that I am grateful to Harper Lee for having written one of the warmest books I have ever read. To Kill a Mockingbird was a shimmer of light at a time when I was starting to pave my way through some of the greatest and intimidating works in literature.

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1 thought on “Goodbye Harper Lee”

  1. Glad to see you’re back.

    There is alot of criticism about To Kill a Mockingbird because of the white savior theme, racism and what not. What is your opinion about that, did you experience that as well when you read the book?

    I’m going to read this book too because of you. You’ve an excellent taste in books 😉

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