Thursday, March 10, 2011

Congratulations Harper Lee —recipient of the 2010 National Arts Medal Winner, which honors both creativity and scholarship.

Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (1960), which won the Pulitzer Prize, has become a classic of modern American literature.  To date, it is Lee's only published novel, and although she continues to respond to the book's impact, she has refused any personal publicity for herself or the novel since 1964. When I heard the news of Lee receiving the Medal I immediately thought back to some of the memorable lines from To Kill a Mockingbird. I offer two “souvenirs” from the story, to honor Harper Lee’s award.

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."  Atticus Finch

"They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

Another book recommendation would be Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry.  Kentuckian and former University of Kentucky professor also received the National Arts Medal “for his achievement as an author, poet, farmer and conservationist.” Jayber Crow and To Kill a Mockingbird are books that touch both your heart and mind and live on in your memory, long after you turn the last page.

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