Harper Lee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, died this morning in Monroeville, Alabama at the age of 89. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for Mockingbird, which later formed the basis of a film starring Gregory Peck. To learn more about her legacy, you could read our own Michael Bourne on the hidden character of Atticus Finch, or else read Robert Rea on a pilgrimage he took to her home.
“‘What I want,’ a young Luis Buñuel announced to the audience at an early screening of his first film, Un Chien Andalou (1929), ‘is for you not to like the film … I’d be sorry if it pleased you.’ The film’s opening scene, which culminates in a close-up of a straight-edge razor being drawn through a woman’s eyeball, is often taken as the epitome of cinema’s potential to do violence to its audience…Horror movies frighten us; violent thrillers agitate us; sentimental stories make us cry. Suffering is often part of our enjoyment. Within limits, however: we are not to be so displeased that we are not pleased. Buñuel deliberately went beyond the limits of permissible displeasure. And so, in his own way, does the Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke.”
William Weaver, Italo Calvino’s longtime translator, writes about the pair’s “complex relationship,” their “consuming passion for words,” and the Cosmicomics author’s travels through “his invisible cities, cities of ideas, or perhaps ideas masquerading as cities.”