Much has been written about Harper Lee’s lost companion to To Kill A Mockingbird, titled Go Set a Watchman, and its transformation of Atticus Finch from a symbol of liberal humanism into a dyed in the wool Jim Crow racist. Every word and even the book’s jacket has been scrutinized. So, here’s my two cents.
I recently received a call from the son of a ’40s–’50s-era jacket designer who believed that the new jacket was influenced by his father’s recognizable work. In fact, there appears to be two significant influences—that of Shirley Smith, designer of the first edition (below, top) published in 1960, and George Salter, whose calligraphic lettering and airbrush rendering defined the jacket style of the postwar era until Paul Bacon’s “big book” style took hold.
The Watchman cover, designed by Jarrod Taylor at HarperCollins, is clearly an homage to the original, from its calligraphic title to the old tree (presumably where Boo Radley left gifts for Scout). The recreation has a nostalgic quality that also suggests continuity, although it is not clear whether this is a prequel, sequel or first draft. More confusing, however, is the symbolism of the title Go Set a Watchman, which derives from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah in the King James Bible: “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.” (Isaiah 21:6.)
PRINT’s Summer 2015 Issue: Out Now!
The New Visual Artists are here! In this issue, meet our 2015 class of 15 brilliant creatives under 30. These carefully selected designers are on the scene making the most cutting-edge work today—and as many of our previous NVAs, they may go on to become tomorrow’s design leaders. Why not get to know them now? Check the full issue out here.