# 33 A classic from the 20th century

To Kill a Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird)

To Kill a Mockingbird

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For the film based on the novel, see To Kill a Mockingbird (film).
To Kill a Mockingbird
Cover of the book showing title in white letters against a black background in a banner above a painting of a portion of a tree against a red background

First edition cover – late printing
Author Harper Lee
Country United States
Language English
Genre Southern Gothic, Bildungsroman
Published July 11, 1960
Pages 281

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author’s observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old.

The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator’s father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explains the novel’s impact by writing, “In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism.”[1]

As a Southern Gothic novel and a Bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles in the American Deep South. The book is widely taught in schools in the United States with lessons that emphasize tolerance and decry prejudice. Despite its themes, To Kill a Mockingbird has been subject to campaigns for removal from public classrooms, often challenged for its use of racial epithets.

Reaction to the novel varied widely upon publication. Literary analysis of it is sparse, considering the number of copies sold and its widespread use in education. Author Mary McDonough Murphy, who collected individual impressions of To Kill a Mockingbird by several authors and public figures, calls the book, “an astonishing phenomenon”.[2] In 2006, British librarians ranked the book ahead of the Bible as one “every adult should read before they die”.[3] It was adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 1962 by director Robert Mulligan, with a screenplay by Horton Foote. Since 1990, a play based on the novel has been performed annually in Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.

To Kill a Mockingbird was Lee’s only published book until Go Set a Watchman, an earlier draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, was published on July 14, 2015. Lee continued to respond to her work’s impact until her death in February 2016, although she had refused any personal publicity for herself or the novel since 1964.

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

One thought on “# 33 A classic from the 20th century

  1. I read this book a long time ago and also saw the movie. Exceptional writing. 🙂 We made a long distance move years ago and found that giving away our books was a good thing. Now, I know the local librarians by their name and appreciate the reserve, hold, pickup process there and don’t have to store something I probably won’t read again. Happy reading. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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