before “To Kill a Mockingbird”


Following is a translated version of my former post “『アラバマ物語』の前に.”


It was in my first year at jr. high, I guess; I vaguely remember. I saw the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” in an extracurricular class of school. Contrary to its tranquil opening scene in monochrome, the main story– full of absurdity in the discriminatory society beyond my perception– was very heavy and hard on my mind, since I, as a jr. high student, still was merely a simple and naïve kid.


The protagonist Scout’s father Atticus, even in such a movie, was depicted straightforwardly as an honest attorney who even I could easily understand. Fatherless, I saw him as a dependable figure who was logically bringing up counterevidence in the court to prove a black youth’s innocence of false charge, and I also felt envious of Scout who had such a father.


Although there is a translated version of the novel published by Kurashinotecho company after the cinematization, I haven’t read the original story by Harper Lee probably because of the “hardship” implanted by the movie. My mother used to subscribed to “Kurashinotecho” (a Japanese counterpart of “Consumer Reports”) those days, and in the issues of the magazine was an ad of the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” with a photo of Scout appeared on the cover of the paperback. I clearly recall today that I would eagerly facsimile her portrait, for the characters in the movie were so fascinating in spite of the hardship I suffer out of the movie.


Though I didn’t draw him, Atticus’s image was to be deeply engraved in my heart as an ideal adult. Knowing that I am not qualified to talk about the original novel without reading it, I can at least tell that I have learned from the movie how unjust this world is, and that serious and Atticus’s honest figure made me wish I would live so as not to be drowned in such injustice.


Today, I found out in a news article that the sequel novel by Harper Lee has just published. 20 years later since “To Kill a Mockingbird,” that righteous lawyer described in there allegedly has an esteem for KKK, a white supremacist cabal, of all things. “That Atticus… the one who embodied the “Conscience” of America (no matter if such a thing actually does exist)”– they are said to be dismayed with disappointment.


I am fully aware the fact that man cannot possibly be unchanging. I also know any one of us gets bigoted with age, and even the belief and the personality may degenerate in some cases. Seeing that, Atticus’s defection itself is not appalling to me. However, I cannot help feeling desolated as if I have lost one of the important base stones that I considered changeless in my mind.

『アラバマ物語』も未読の僕が、今すぐ続編『Go Set a Watchman』を読まないだろうが、もしも読んだら、50年前の映画に感じたのと同じ「しんどさ」を背負い込むことになるだろう。なにしろ続編の内容を伝えるニュースだけですらこんなことを書かせるほどなのだから、、、

Having not even read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I probably won’t read “Go Set a Watchman” right away; but should I read it, I would incur the same “mental burden” as I felt in that movie fifty years ago, since even a mere piece of news reporting the contents of the sequel makes me write this much after all.

『Go Set a Watchman』は『アラバマ物語』(原題:”To Kill a Mockingbird”)より前に書かれていたという。アティカスの変節を逆順で描いたハーパー・リーはきっと非凡な作家なのだろうなと思う。

I hear “Go Set a Watchman” was written before “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Harper Lee, who wrote Atticus’s defection in the reverse-chronological order, must be an author of prodigy, I suppose.

追記(2023,11,17):ハーパー・リーが「アティカスの変節を逆順で描いた」のは、先に書かれた、つまりリーの初作(というかドラフト)である『Go Set a Watchman』が未成熟だと判断した編集者のテイ・ホホフが、スカウトの少女時代を物語にするよう提案したからだ、と当時のNewsweekの記事に出ていた。

postscript (2023,11,17): The reason for Harper Lee to write “Atticus’s defection in the reverse-chronological order” is that her maiden work (or more like a draft) “Go Set a Watchman” was regarded immature by the editor Tay Hohoff, who suggested Lee to instead write a story of Scout in her girlhood days, according to an article of the Newsweek then.

漫画や小説、エッセイなど出版される作品への編集者の影響力は相当大きく、編集者の力量が文字通り良くも悪くも作品の質まで決めてしまうほどだ。全てがそうだというわけではないが、名前の出ない共著者と言っても大袈裟ではない。ホホフについてはよく知らないが、Newsweekの記事を読む限り、かなり見識の高い編集者だったのだろう。それはホホフの関わらなかった、というか出版を許さなかった『Go Set a Watchman』が、その出版から8年後の現在ではもはや誰もその名を口にしなくなったことが逆に彼女の功績を際立たせている。

Editors’ voices in the works, such as manga, novels and essay, to be published are so influential that the quality of the works, for better or worse, literally depends on the editors’ competence. Although not in all the cases of course, it is no exaggeration to call editors the uncredited coauthors. I don’t know much of Hohoff but, as far as I read the Newsweek’s story, I think she was a considerably knowledgeable editor of talent. Her deed is shown in the fact that, in eight years after the publication of “Go Set a Watchman”, no body any more seems to talk about this novel that Hohoff didn’t take part in, or rather, that she didn’t allow to be published.


Well, regardless of the sequence of writing or the quality of the works in any ways, my thought‐‐ “Harper Lee, who wrote Atticus’s defection in the reverse-chronological order, must be an author of prodigy”– has not and will not change.