In David Lodge’s novel Changing Places, the characters played a game called “Humiliation” in which the participants confess books that they have never read. The fact that it takes place at a dinner party where all the guests are university professors adds a frisson of professional embarrassment to the game. I vividly remembered this scene in the novel and, up until recently, I thought my entry in the game of Humiliation would be the Pulitzer prize winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. However my sister loaned me the book about a year ago and I devoured it in a day, so I shall have to come up with a new entry.
My friend Ursula gave me a copy of the 1962 movie starring Gregory Peck for my birthday and I sat down to watch it last weekend. My sister has read the book dozens of times but hadn’t seen the movie either and after about five minutes she said “this is exactly how I imagined it”. It is a faithful interpretation of the book and perfectly cast. Every nuance of Gregory Peck’s performance of Atticus Finch* is flawless and he justly won the Oscar for Best Actor for the role. The director Alan J. Pakula remarked, “I must say the man and the character he played were not unalike”. The score, composed by Elmer Bernstein, is gorgeous, from the child humming over the opening credits through to the lush and moody full orchestral pieces.
Discussion of the classic novel is in the news as it’s approaching the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication. Jezebel have published an article on why the novel needs to be re-evaluated and the Mail on Sunday’s Sharon Churcher experienced a rather abortive recent attempt at interviewing the famously reclusive novelist. There’s also a rather funny and incisive article from Hadley Freeman in the Guardian.
(*If ever I were to have a boy child I think Atticus would have to be his name.)