Go Wreck an Atticus

We were all shocked to discover that Harper Lee’s new/old novel, Go Set a Watchman, portrays a totally different Atticus Finch than the one we got to know in To Kill a Mockingbird — instead of being a model of justice, kindness, and decency, it turns out he’s a curmudgeonly racist. What you may not know is that there are a whole bunch of unreleased sequels of literary classics out there, where, like in this case, beloved characters turn out pretty differently. A few examples:

· In Go Set an Abe Foxman, Dickens’ unreleased follow-up to Oliver Twist, Oliver realizes he’s a bit of an anti-semite, and he goes on to found the Anti-Defamation League.

· Humbert Humbert tries to get a fresh start in Nabokov’s sequel Go Dump a Lolita, when he launches a website called Hot Granny MILFs. Oh, Humbert Humbert….

· Jane Eyre almost got a serious makeover in a fanciful prequel where Antoinette/Bertha is actually written not as a crazy savage but as a sympathetic character caught up in an inexorable and oppressive system of patriarchal hegemony. Geez — what an imagination these authors have!

· In Go Head a Fountain, Ayn Rand’s character Howard Roark builds a successful architecture firm funded entirely by generous government contracts and subsidies, and he gratefully pours his profits back into the community. “If I said I built this on my own,” he says at one point, “I’d have to be a total asshole.”

· Go Get a Whale, the much hoped-for sequel to Moby Dick, shows us an Ishmael who does the unimaginable: he quickly gets to the point of what he’s talking about and stays on topic. The book is 87 pages long.

· In the never-published Go Set a Mystery, Nancy Drew stumbles upon a mystery involving a canoe, a missing diamond necklace, and two owls in the night, and she says, “How is this my problem?” and then she goes home to binge-watch Gossip Girl.

· When Ralph Ellison told people about his idea for a sequel to Invisible Man, everyone was like, “You can’t just make him visible.”

· Daisy Buchanan: driving instructor.

· In the final line by Scarlett O’Hara in the never-released Go Set the Wind, she gazes off from the porch of her plantation house and says, “You know what? I’m starting to think that flag is actually kind of offensive.”

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