Over on the Kenyon Review blog, Jerry Harp has been Rereading Harper Lee. I'm not convinced I need to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird, however. For all the social significance of its homilies it never really felt like more than a good children's book to me. Actually, I think I probably enjoyed the 1962 Gregory Peck film.
As readers of Harper Lee will recall, a central point–perhaps the central ethical lesson–of the novel occurs when Atticus tells Scout about the importance of climbing into another person’s skin and walking around in it, a lesson that Scout puts into practice in her dealings with her brother, Jem, and then with other persons such as Tom Robinson and Arthur Radley, persons who have been marginalized, made “into ghosts,” as Atticus puts it when discussing Arthur Radley with his children.
For a wee while, back in the mid-nineties, when I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time, I used to work in an idyllic, small secondhand bookshop at the top of Hardman Street in Liverpool called Atticus. I'd often have a bottle of red wine on the go and get quietly pissed over the course of an afternoon, listening to Radio 3. Good times.