The inner life of a restless intellect


May 24, 2016

Benedict Anderson

Indonesian scholar

The inner life of a restless intellect

May 21st 2016 | From the print edition

 

IN SOUTH-EAST Asia Benedict Anderson, who died last December aged 79, was an intellectual giant. In 1966 he was part of a team at Cornell University that published an influential report on what really happened during the violent takeover of Indonesia in October of the previous year. The report was leaked to the Washington Post and Anderson was eventually barred from entering the country.

He remained cut off from Indonesia for 27 years until the fall of Suharto’s dictatorship. But he found new passions, studying Thailand and the Philippines. In 1983 his meandering studies and wide reading led him to write the book he is most famous for, “Imagined Communities”, which explores the enduring allure of nationalism.

Benedict Anderson: Ilmuwan Amerika Pencinta Indonesia

by Yogira

Ada beberapa ilmuwan dan cendikiawan warga negara asing [WNA], yang sangat  mencintai Indonesia, bahkan akhirnya jadi WNI. Salah satunya Benedict Anderson.

Sejak dulu keilmuan seputar Indonesia mendapat selalu mendapat perhatian publik dunia. Mereka mengkaji berbagai bidang sesuai minat dan latarbelakang pendidikannya. Sekedar menyebut beberapa nama:  A. Teeuw, Katrin Bandel, Berthold Damshäuser [pengkaji kesusastraan Indonesia], Dieter Mack [pengkaji musik gamelan], Franz Magnis Suseno [pengkaji filsafat dan budaya Indonesia], dan Benedict Anderson [pengkaji sejarah dan budaya Indonesia]. Menariknya, Saking terlanjur mencintai Indonesia, di antara mereka akhirnya mengukuhkan diri sebagai Warga Negara Indonesia [WNI]. Sebutan “Indonesianis” pun melekat pada dirinya.

Baru-baru ini, Indonesia kehilangan salah satu indonesianis. Ya, Benedict Richard O’Gorman Anderson, meninggal di Batu, Malang, Sabtu malam [12/12]. Ilmuwan asal Amerika yang lebih dikenal dengan nama Ben Anderson ini wafat pada usia 79.

Ben adalah professor emeritus bidang studi internasional Universitas Cornell, Amerika. Sebelum meninggal, Ben sempat memberi kuliah umum tentang Anarkisme dan Sosialisme di Universitas Indonesia. Dia juga tengah menyiapkan bedah buku terbarunya bertajuk Di Bawah Tiga Bendera.

Ilmuwan kelahiran Kunming, China, 26 Agustus 1936 ini menerbitkan banyak karya tulis, baik dalam bentuk buku, jurnal, maupun artikel, antara lain:  Imagined Communities, Debating World Literature, Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia, dan Java in a Time of Revolution. Banyak karyanya yang menjadi rujukan studi mahasiswa dan akademisi. Bahkan Imagines Communities jadi salah satu  karyanya yang paling monumental.

Penjelajahan intelektual Ben di Indonesia menularkan kajian-kajian kritis, yang sempat ‘memanaskan’ kuping rezim Orde Baru lantaran pandangan dan analisinya berbau “kekiri-kirian”. Imbasnya, dia dilarang masuk Indonesia. Setelah Soeharto lengser, Ben kembali ke Indonesia untuk berkutat dengan keilmuannya.

Selama tinggal di Indonesia, Ben kerapkali berkunjung ke berbagai daerah untuk menjalani penelitian. Dari hasil beberapa kali kunjungan itulah, dia semakin suntuk mendalami Indonesia, terutama dari aspek sosial dan budaya. Salah satu yang menjadi cirikhas Ben dalam menulis adalah, ia acap menggunakan Bahasa Indonesia ejaan lama dalam beberapa tulisannya.    

Selamat tinggal Om Ben. Sumbangsihmu untuk Indonesia semoga terus berharga.

[][teks @firza/berbagai sumber | foto chaiwanbenpost.blogspot.com, niallodoc.wordpress.com]

Outside South-East Asian circles, Anderson’s prolific and diverse output is more obscure. This should change with the publication of his memoir, “A Life Beyond Boundaries”. As the title suggests, Anderson is an enemy of the bubble, whether nation, school or language. He returns again and again to an image in Thai and Indonesian cultures of a frog who lives its entire life under half of a coconut shell. “Sitting quietly under the shell, before long the frog begins to feel that the coconut bowl encloses the entire universe,” he writes. “The moral judgment in the image is that the frog is narrow-minded, provincial, stay-at-home and self-satisfied for no good reason. For my part, I stayed nowhere long enough to settle down in one place, unlike the proverbial frog.”

Reading Anderson feels like emerging from the coconut shell. You come away wanting to see films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a Thai film-maker he admired, to learn Tagalog on the side or to read a grand Filipino novel, “Noli Me Tangere” (“Touch me not”), by José Rizal, which Anderson tried to translate line by line in an effort to learn Spanish. He praised Indonesia’s great young novelist, Eka Kurniawan.

Born in 1936 in Kunming, in Yunnan province, to an Irish father and an English mother, Anderson (pictured in China with his nanny) moved to Ireland, along with his two siblings, in 1945 after a brief period in America. His father died soon after; his mother became a guiding force. Anderson went to Eton and then to Cambridge, before going to Cornell as a teaching assistant. There, he met George Kahin, a leading expert on Indonesia whose lectures set Anderson on his path. This willingness to be open to new experiences and challenges was the key to his brilliance.

“Scholars who feel comfortable with their position in a discipline, department or university will try neither to sail out of harbour nor to look for a wind,” he writes, paraphrasing an expression in Indonesia. “But what is to be cherished is the readiness to look for that wind and the courage to follow it when it blows in your direction.” Although “A Life Beyond Boundaries” is about the life of a scholar, it is asides like these that give the book a universal touch. Anderson went to three privileged institutions of learning. They could have given him many opportunities to remain in his bubble. But he just wasn’t that kind of frog.

http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21699109-inner-life-restless-intellect-indonesian-scholar?frsc=dg%7Ca

Your Weekend Entertainment: Tribute to Merle Haggard


April 9, 2016

Your Weekend Entertainment:  Tribute to Merle Haggard

For this weekend, Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican pay to tribute to Country Music Legend Merle Haggard who passed on recently after short illness with double pneumonia. He was 79. Merle was known for his rendition of Okie from Muskogee ( here with Willie Nelson). Do  have a good times and enjoy Merle’s legacy to country music USA.–Dr. Kamsiah Haider and Din Merican

 

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew


April 4, 2016

COMMENT: I do not understand why the view of one person, albiet from the daughter of the late Prime Minister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, should receive our attention, and be the subject of this article titled, Who will end the cult of LKY?

Why should a leader who has done so much for his country  not be admired, remembered and honored by his own people for his contributions to the making of a dynamic, modern and successful Singapore. Since when has remembering and honoring a leader of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s stature been regarded as fawning or an attempt  to create a personality cult.

There is a already a statue of Sir Stamford Raffles  who established Singapore as  a British trading outpost in 1819. There should rightly also be one of Mr. Lee.  Maybe, Changi should be known as Lee Kuan Yew International Airport. But I understand  Mr. Lee has left a will which prevents this from happening.

Fortunately, there is a way out of this bind. A close and respected friend from Singapore told me recently that Singaporeans have wisely chosen to erect a Heroes’ Memorial in honour of Mr. Lee and his colleagues like Goh Goh Keng Swee, S. Rajaratnam, Hon Sui Sen, Eddie Barker, and others.–Din Merican

Remembering  Lee Kuan Yew

by Surekha A. Yadav

http://www.themalaymailonline.com

On March 21, the front page of the Straits Times carried a photograph featuring a stylised portrait of Singapore’s first, now deceased, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The installation formed, out of 4,877 erasers, was 2.3 metres wide and 3.1 metres high and titled Our Father, Our Country, Our Flag.

Now the first question that came to my mind was… why erasers?But other commentators had different reactions, with one woman in particular asking why so much column space was being devoted to a man who was determined not to see his legacy descend into a personality cult.

“I would ask how the time, effort and resources used to prepare these (commemorations, etc) would benefit Singapore and Singaporeans,” she wrote in a lengthy Facebook post criticising the adulation being heaped on our former leader on the first anniversary of his death. The post was widely circulated, but not by the Straits Times, to which she has been a regular contributor and columnist for years.

A bouquet of orchids seen on the parliamentary seat of founding father and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew during a remembrance ceremony at the old Parliament. This is particularly interesting because the woman in question is Dr Lee Wei Ling, the daughter of the man represented by the thousands of erasers.

Dr Lee felt the national daily’s refusal to run her critical piece amounted to censorship and she declared on Facebook that she was effectively ending her relationship with the paper “as the editors there do not allow me freedom of speech.”

So here we have the daughter of Lee Kuan Yew, the effective founder of the modern Singaporean state, telling the newspaper closest to the state off for censoring her criticism of the fawning over her late father, which is happening in the state led by her brother — Lee Hsien Loong.

On one hand, Dr Lee’s point is perfectly coherent; while Lee Kuan Yew imprinted aspects of himself on the nation he effectively engineered, he was no North Korean Kim.

For many years of his rule and influence, we didn’t see giant statues of the man downtown, no LKY international airport or monuments emerged and that strikes me as a very good thing.

The old statesman was even determined to demolish his modest family home to prevent it from becoming a shrine.

On the other, it is a little amusing that a woman of considerable education, success and stature (she is after all the daughter of the first Prime Minister and sister to the current prime minister) feels muffled.

“The editors there do not allow me freedom of speech,” she tellingly says — but have they really offered anyone, bar perhaps our paramount chiefs, freedom of speech since the dawn of the modern nation?

Dr Lee’s father famously said: “You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, and schools.”

This has been the basis of the government’s media policy for decades, and our nation’s dismal positioning on global press freedom indexes is also well known, so it’s hard not to meet a sudden burst of outrage from the pinnacle of privilege without a raised eyebrow.

I’ve now seen Lee Kuan Yew commemorative badges handed out and watched a video of children at a local kindergarten being made to bow to a photo of the former PM — someone has to put a stop to this and maybe Dr Lee is the lady for the job. One way or another, the next Lee family dinner ought to be pretty interesting.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/surekha-a-yadav/article/who-will-end-the-cult-of-lky#sthash.8OsKd0kQ.dpuf

 

RIP, Dear Nancy, May God Bless You


March 7, 2016

RIP, Dear Nancy, May God Bless You

by Lou Cannon

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/07/us/nancy-reagan-a-stylish-and-influential-first-lady-dies-at-94

The First Lady of the United States of America

Nancy Reagan, the influential and stylish wife of the 40th President of the United States who unabashedly put Ronald Reagan at the center of her life but became a political figure in her own right, died on Sunday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 94.

The cause was congestive heart failure, according to a statement from Joanne Drake, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Reagan.

Mrs. Reagan was a fierce guardian of her husband’s image, sometimes at the expense of her own, and during Mr. Reagan’s improbable climb from a Hollywood acting career to the governorship of California and ultimately the White House, she was a trusted adviser.

President Obama said on Sunday that Mrs. Reagan “had redefined the role” of First Lady, adding, “Later, in her long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s, and took on a new role, as advocate, on behalf of treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives.”

Mrs. Reagan helped hire and fire the political consultants who ran her husband’s near-miss campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976 and his successful campaign for the Presidency in 1980.

She also played a seminal role in the 1987 ouster of the White House Chief of Staff, Donald T. Regan, whom Mrs. Reagan blamed for ineptness after it was disclosed that Mr. Reagan had secretly approved arms sales to Iran.

Behind the scenes, Mrs. Reagan was the prime mover in Mr. Reagan’s efforts to recover from the scandal, which was known as Iran-contra because some of the proceeds from the sale had been diverted to the contras opposing the leftist government of Nicaragua. While trying to persuade her stubborn husband to apologize for the arms deal, Mrs. Reagan brought political figures into the White House, among them the Democratic power broker Robert S. Strauss, to argue her case to the President.

Mr. Reagan eventually conceded that she was right. On March 4, 1987, the President made a distanced apology for the arms sale in a nationally televised address that dramatically improved his slumping public approval ratings.

His wife, typically, neither sought nor received credit for the turnaround. Mrs. Reagan did not wish to detract from her husband’s luster by appearing to be a power behind the presidential throne.

In public, she gazed at him adoringly and portrayed herself as a contented wife who had willingly given up a Hollywood acting career of her own to devote herself to her husband’s career. “He was all I had ever wanted in a man, and more,” she wrote in “My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan,” published in 1989.

He reciprocated in kind. “How do you describe coming into a warm room from out of the cold?” he once said. “Never waking up bored? The only thing wrong is, she’s made a coward out of me. Whenever she’s out of sight, I’m a worrier about her.”

In truth, she was the worrier. Mrs. Reagan wrote in her memoirs that she sometimes became angry with her husband because of his relentless optimism. He didn’t worry at all, she wrote, “and I seem to do the worrying for both of us.”

It was this conviction that led Mrs. Reagan to take a leading role in the Regan ouster and in other personnel matters in the White House. “It’s hard to envision Ronnie as being a bad guy,” she said in a 1989 interview. “And he’s not. But there are times when somebody has to step in and say something. And I’ve had to do that sometimes — often.”

She did not always get her way. Mr. Reagan ignored her criticism of several cabinet appointees, including Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger.

In 2001, seven years after her husband announced that he had Alzheimer’s disease, Mrs. Reagan broke with President George W. Bush and endorsed embryonic stem cell research. She stepped up her advocacy after her husband’s death on June 5, 2004. “She feels the greatest legacy her family could ever have is to spare other families from going through what they have,” a family friend, Doug Wick, quoted Mrs. Reagan as saying.

Years on Camera

Born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921, in New York City, Nancy Davis was the daughter of Edith Luckett, an actress, and Kenneth Robbins, a car dealer who abandoned the family soon after her birth. Ms. Luckett resumed her stage career when her daughter was 2 and sent the child to live with relatives in Bethesda, Md. In 1929, Ms. Luckett married a Chicago neurosurgeon, Loyal Davis, who adopted Nancy and gave her the family name.

Almost overnight, Nancy Davis’s difficult childhood became stable and privileged. Throughout the rest of her life, she described Mr. Davis as her real father.

Nancy Davis graduated from the elite Girls’ Latin School in Chicago and then from Smith College in 1943. Slender, with photogenic beauty and large, luminous eyes, she considered an acting career. After doing summer stock in New England, she landed a part in the Broadway musical “Lute Song,” with Mary Martin and Yul Brynner. With the help of a friend, the actor Spencer Tracy, her mother then arranged a screen test given by the director George Cukor, of MGM.

Cukor, according to his biographer, told the studio that Miss Davis lacked talent. Nonetheless, she was given a part in the film she had tested for, “East Side, West Side,” which was released in 1949 starring Barbara Stanwyck, James Mason and Ava Gardner. Cast as the socialite wife of a New York press baron, Miss Davis appeared in only two scenes, but they were with Miss Stanwyck, the film’s top star.

After her husband went into politics, Mrs. Reagan encouraged the notion that her acting interest had been secondary, a view underscored by the biographical information she supplied to MGM in 1949, in which she said her “greatest ambition” was to have a “successful, happy marriage.”

But this was a convention in a day when women were not encouraged to have careers outside the home. In his book “Reagan’s America: Innocents At Home,” Garry Wills disputed the prevalent view that Miss Davis had just been marking time in Hollywood while waiting for a man. She was “the steady woman,” he wrote, who in most of her 11 films had held her own with accomplished actors.

The producer Dore Schary cast Miss Davis in her first lead role, in “The Next Voice You Hear” (1950), playing a pregnant mother opposite James Whitmore. She received good reviews for her work in “Night Into Morning” (1951), with Ray Milland, in which she played a war widow who talked Milland’s character out of committing suicide. Mrs. Reagan thought this was her best film.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan together forever

Mr. Wills wrote that she was underrated as an actress because she had become most widely associated with her “worst” and, as it happened, last film, “Hellcats of the Navy” (1957), in which Ronald Reagan had the leading role.

How They Met

As she so often did in life, Nancy Davis took the initiative in meeting the man who would become her husband.

In the late 1940s, Hollywood was in the grip of a “Red Scare,” prompted by government investigations into accusations of Communist influence in the film industry. In October 1949, the name “Nancy Davis” appeared in a Hollywood newspaper on a list of signers of a supporting brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn the convictions of two screenwriters who had been blacklisted after being found guilty of contempt for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Such newspaper mentions could mean the end of a career, and Nancy Davis sought help from her friend Mervyn LeRoy, who had directed her in “East Side, West Side.” LeRoy found it was a case of mistaken identity: another Nancy Davis had worked in what he called “leftist theater.” He offered to call Ronald Reagan, president of the Screen Actors Guild, to make sure there would be no problems in the future. Instead, Miss Davis insisted that LeRoy set up a meeting with Mr. Reagan.

The meeting took place over dinner at LaRue’s, a fashionable Hollywood restaurant on Sunset Strip. Mr. Reagan, recovering from multiple leg fractures suffered in a charity baseball game, was on crutches. Miss Davis was immediately smitten.

Mr. Reagan, though, was more cautious. According to Bob Colacello, who has written extensively about the Reagans, Mr. Reagan still hoped for a reconciliation with his first wife, the actress Jane Wyman, who had divorced him in 1948.

After dating several times in the fall of 1949, Mr. Reagan and Miss Davis drifted apart and dated others. But they began seeing each other again in 1950. Miss Davis had been accepted on the board of the Screen Actors Guild, and she and Mr. Reagan began having dinner every Monday night after the meetings, often with the actor William Holden, the guild Vice President, according to Mr. Colacello.

Mr. Reagan and Nancy Davis were married on March 4, 1952, at a private ceremony at The Little Brown Church in the Valley, in Studio City. Mr. Holden and his wife, Ardis, were the only witnesses.

After their marriage, the Reagans bought a house in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, where their daughter, Patricia Ann, was born — “a bit precipitously,” Mrs. Reagan wrote in her memoirs — on October 21, 1952. She is known as Patti Davis professionally. The Reagans also had a son, Ronald Prescott, on May 28, 1958.

Besides her son and daughter, survivors include Mrs. Reagan’s stepson, Michael Reagan, and her brother, Dr. Richard Davis. A stepdaughter, Maureen Reagan, died in 2001.

At the time of their marriage, Mr. Reagan’s film career was, as his new wife put it, at a “standstill.” Although Nancy Reagan had vowed not to be a working wife, she made a low-budget science-fiction movie, “Donovan’s Brain” (1953), with Lew Ayres. Her working was “a blow to Ronnie,” Mrs. Reagan observed in her memoirs, “but quite simply, we needed the money.”

The money worries ended early in 1954, when Music Corporation of America, the entertainment conglomerate, offered Mr. Reagan a television contract for $125,000 a year to be the host of “General Electric Theater.” It had a long run, broadcast on Sunday nights until 1962, and Mrs. Reagan herself acted in a few of its episodes.

Indeed, when her film career was over, she continued to work sporadically in television, in episodes of “Zane Grey Theater,” “The Dick Powell Show” and, as late as 1962, “Wagon Train.”

A Loyal Supporter

By then, Mr. Reagan had changed his partisan affiliation from Democratic to Republican and was giving political speeches. In Hollywood, Mr. Reagan’s shift toward the right was often attributed to Mrs. Reagan and her father, Loyal Davis, a staunch conservative. Both the Reagans denied this; she was barely interested in politics at the time, they said. Ironically, when President Reagan began to negotiate with Soviet leaders, conservatives accused Mrs. Reagan of pushing him in a liberal direction. Evidence is lacking to support either suspicion. As Mrs. Reagan put it: “If Ronnie hadn’t wanted to do it, he wouldn’t have done it.”

Though Mrs. Reagan was not at first keen on her husband’s entry into politics, she loyally supported him. His career took off when he made a rousing nationally televised speech for the Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater on October 27, 1964. The following year a group of wealthy people from Southern California approached Mr. Reagan about running for Governor of California. He was interested.

From the first, Mrs. Reagan was part of the campaign planning. “They were a team,” said Stuart Spencer, who with Bill Roberts managed the Reagan campaign. New to politics, she said little at first. But Mr. Spencer found her “a quick learner, always absorbing.” Before long she was peppering Mr. Roberts and Mr. Spencer about their strategy and tactics.

Mr. Reagan won a contested Republican primary and then a landslide victory in November against the Democratic incumbent, Gov. Edmund G. Brown. For the Reagans, that meant a 350-mile move to the state capital, Sacramento.

Mrs. Reagan was not happy there. She missed friends and the brisker social pace and milder climate of Southern California. And she hated the governor’s mansion, a dilapidated Victorian house on a busy one-way street. So she persuaded her husband to lease, at their own expense, a 12-room Tudor house in a fashionable section of eastern Sacramento. Mr. Reagan’s wealthy Southern California supporters later bought the house and leased it back to the Reagans.

The mansion episode, and Mrs. Reagan’s unalloyed preference for Southern California, aroused parochial resentment in Sacramento. She in turn disliked the city’s locker-room political culture, which required her to socialize with the wives of legislators who had insulted her husband. She bristled at press scrutiny, which became more intense after Joan Didion and her husband, John Gregory Dunne, wrote an unflattering article, “Pretty Nancy,” in The Saturday Evening Post in 1968. The article described Mrs. Reagan’s famous smile as a study in frozen insecurity.

Mrs. Reagan, who thought she had made a good impression on Ms. Didion, was crushed by the article. Katharine Graham, the longtime publisher of The Washington Post and later a friend of Mrs. Reagan’s, said the article set the tone for other unfavorable ones.

A Sophisticated  First Lady

But not all the press coverage was unflattering. A few months later, The Los Angeles Times published an article whose tone was telegraphed by its headline: “Nancy Reagan: A Model First Lady.” She also received positive publicity for welcoming home former prisoners of war from Vietnam and taking an active role in a Foster Grandparents Program for mentally disabled children.

Governor Reagan left office in 1975. With President Richard M. Nixon enmeshed in the Watergate scandal, the Reagans had already begun planning their next political move. In May 1974, they met with supporters at their home in Pacific Palisades. Among them was John P. Sears, a Washington lawyer who had worked for Mr. Nixon’s presidential campaign in 1960. Mr. Sears, alone of those who attended the meeting, predicted the Nixon resignation. That made an impression on Mrs. Reagan.

After Nixon resigned and was succeeded by Gerald R. Ford, Mr. Reagan began planning to challenge Mr. Ford for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination. Mrs. Reagan recommended hiring Mr. Sears to direct the effort, which Mr. Reagan narrowly lost. (Mr. Ford was then defeated by Jimmy Carter.)

Four years later, as Mr. Reagan again sought the nomination, Mrs. Reagan played a leading role in the firing of Mr. Sears. The campaign had just won the New Hampshire primary, but Mrs. Reagan nevertheless came to believe that Mr. Sears was a disruptive influence. She also had a hand in the hiring of his replacement as campaign manager, William J. Casey, whom Mr. Reagan later named Director of Central Intelligence.

But after Mr. Reagan won the nomination and got off to a flustered start in his campaign against President Carter, Mrs. Reagan became critical of Mr. Casey and urged her husband to bring in Stuart Spencer, who had run Mr. Reagan’s first campaign for Governor. Mr. Spencer was persona non grata in the Reagan camp because he had managed Mr. Ford’s campaign in 1976. But Mr. Reagan followed his wife’s advice. Mr. Spencer joined the campaign and ran it smoothly.

Not all of her advice was equally good. For instance, she opposed Mr. Spencer’s proposal that her husband debate President Carter. Mr. Reagan decided to debate and did so well that he surged ahead in the polls and won convincingly a week later.

A Sophisticated Turn

As First Lady, Mrs. Reagan was glamorous and controversial. The White House started serving liquor again after the abstemious Carter years. Mrs. Reagan reached out to Washington society. More sophisticated than she had been in Sacramento, Mrs. Reagan also reached out to politicians, Democrats as well as Republicans. She became friends with Millie O’Neal, wife of the House Speaker, Thomas P. O’Neill, who was a political foe of President Reagan by day and a friend after hours. During one period in 1981, when Mrs. Reagan was getting “bad press,” as she recalled, Mr. O’Neill leaned across at a luncheon and said, “Don’t let it get you down.”

Mrs. Reagan’s critics said she had brought the bad press on herself. After one look at the White House living quarters, Mrs. Reagan decided to redo them. She then raised $822,000 from private contributors to accomplish this. Another contributor put up more than $200,000 to buy a set of presidential china, enough for 220 place settings; it was the first new set in the White House since the Johnson administration.

Nancy Reagan and Michelle Obama

With a slim figure maintained by daily exercise, Mrs. Reagan looked younger than her years and wore expensively simple gowns provided by Galanos, Adolfo and other designers. One best-selling Washington postcard featured Mrs. Reagan in an ermine cape and jeweled crown with the label “Queen Nancy.” It touched a nerve with Mrs. Reagan, who had been surprised at the press criticism of the china purchase and the White House redecoration. But the rest of the country was kinder. In 1981, a Gallup poll put Mrs. Reagan first on the list of “most admired women” in the nation. She was in the top 10 on the list throughout the Reagan Presidency.

White House image-makers, aware that President Reagan was generally well liked for his self-deprecating humor, urged Mrs. Reagan to use humor as a weapon against her critics. She did so spectacularly on March 29, 1982, at the Gridiron Dinner, an annual roast by journalists, where, to standing ovations, she made sport of her stylish if icy image in a surprise on-stage appearance as “Second Hand Rose,” wearing feathered hat, pantaloons and yellow boots and singing a parody of “Second Hand Clothes.”

Mrs. Reagan’s darkest memory was of March 30, 1981, when she received word that her husband had been shot by a would-be assassin outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. She rushed to the hospital (The George Washington University Hospital), where her husband, although fighting for his life, was still wisecracking. “Honey, I forgot to duck,” he said to her, borrowing a line that the fighter Jack Dempsey supposedly said to his wife after losing the heavyweight championship to Gene Tunney in 1926. But Mrs. Reagan found nothing to laugh about. “Nothing can happen to my Ronnie,” she wrote in her diary that night. “My life would be over.”

After the assassination attempt, Mrs. Reagan turned to Joan Quigley, a San Francisco astrologer, who claimed to have predicted that March 30 would be a “bad day” for the President. Her relationship with Ms. Quigley “began as a crutch,” Mrs. Reagan wrote, “one of several ways I tried to alleviate my anxiety about Ronnie.” Within a year, it was a habit. Mrs. Reagan conversed with Ms. Quigley by telephone and passed on the information she received about favorable and unfavorable days to Mr. Deaver, the Presidential Assistant, and later to the White House Chief of Staff, Donald Regan, for use in scheduling.

Mr. Regan disclosed Mrs. Reagan’s astrological bent in his 1988 book, “For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington,” asserting that the Quigley information created a chaotic situation for White House schedulers. Mrs. Reagan said that no political decisions had been made based on the astrologist’s advice, nor did Mr. Regan allege that any had been.

But the disclosure was nonetheless embarrassing to Mrs. Reagan; she and many commentators saw it as an act of revenge for the role she had played in forcing Mr. Regan out after the Iran-contra disclosures. Mrs. Reagan’s low opinion of Mr. Regan was well known; she had said tartly that he “liked the sound of chief but not of staff.” In fact, however, Mr. Regan’s resignation had also been demanded by powerful Republican figures, and the President had agreed to it. When Mr. Regan saw a report of this on CNN, he quit and walked out of the White House.

Within the White House, Mrs. Reagan was known as a meticulous taskmaster. Some staff members feared incurring her disfavor. The speechwriter Peggy Noonan was wearing walking clothes in the White House the first time she passed by Mrs. Reagan, who looked at her with disdain. “The next time I saw her I hid behind a pillar,” Ms. Noonan wrote in the book “What I saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era.”

Other staff members found Mrs. Reagan more approachable than her husband. One of these was the speechwriter Landon Parvin, who worked with Mrs. Reagan when she was engineering her husband’s recovery from the Iran-contra scandal and drafted the apology in the President’s televised speech.

Her Own Causes

As First Lady, Mrs. Reagan traveled throughout the United States and abroad to speak out against drug and alcohol abuse by young Americans and coined the phrase “Just Say No,” which was used in advertising campaigns during the 1980s.

In speeches about drug abuse, Mrs. Reagan often used a line from the William Inge play “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,” in which a mother says of her children, “I always thought I could give them life like a present, all wrapped in white with every promise of success.” Mr. Parvin, in an interview, said she had become emotional when she read this line, “as if it had a power that went back to her own childhood.”

On October 17, 1987, a few days after cancer was detected in a mammogram, Mrs. Reagan underwent a mastectomy of her left breast. Afterward, she discussed the operation openly to encourage women to have mammograms every year.

After the Presidency, the Reagans returned to Los Angeles and settled in a ranch house in exclusive Bel Air. In 1994, Mr. Reagan learned he had Alzheimer’s disease and announced the diagnosis to the American people in a poignant letter, which Mrs. Reagan had helped him write.

For the next decade, Mrs. Reagan conducted what she called a “long goodbye,” described in Newsweek as “10 years of exacting care giving, hurried lunches with friends” and “hours spent with old love letters and powerful advocacy for new research into cures for the disease that was taking Ronnie from her.”

At Mr. Reagan’s funeral, at the National Cathedral in Washington, she remained in tight control of her emotions. Then she flew west with the coffin for a burial service at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., where Mrs. Reagan will also be buried. At the conclusion of the ceremony, at sunset, soldiers and sailors handed Mrs. Reagan a folded American flag. She held it close to her heart, put it down on the coffin, and at last began to cry.

 

A Tribute to John Legge


March 2, 2016

A Tribute to John Legge:Pioneer who taught Australia about Asia (1921-2016)

by Anthony Milner

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/john-legge-obituary-pioneer-who-taught-australia-about-asia-20160211-gmrfs7.html

In the words of a former President of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, Elaine McKay, John Legge more than any other was the founder of modern Asian studies in Australia. In the great expansionist period of the Australian university system he was (as Professor of history, and then dean of arts) a leader in the building of Monash University – and also in the vital interaction between academic analysts and government policymakers.

Through his international and Australian networks, and growing numbers of students, he influenced Australia’s engagement with Asia. Internationally, Legge was especially recognised for his writing on Indonesia – and also as a theoretician in the discipline of history.

Legge was a graduate of Melbourne University and Oxford, and his early writing was on colonial government, with major books on Papua and British Fiji. The Papua project on Australia’s administration of the territory arose from Legge’s wartime work in the government’s Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs, which recruited also the poet James McAuley and future governor-general John Kerr. At the University of Western Australia in the immediate post-War period (1946-1960), Legge was also a pioneer in the teaching of Asian history – Fred Chaney, Sir Neil Currie and others spoke later of how his survey course changed their lives.
Professor John Legge as a young man.

These years in Western Australia, working in the department of history founded by Fred Alexander and living in St Georges College under the wardenship of the respected and eccentric “Josh” Reynolds, were particularly happy ones for Legge. It was here that he met and married, in 1952, Alison Hale, a fellow Oxford graduate and the star of a local production of Shaw’s St Joan. They had three children, David, Catherine and Colin.

In 1956, John and Alison took sabbatical leave at Cornell University, the pre-eminent centre of south-east Asian studies in the United States. Here Legge was impressed by the academic leadership of George Kahin, with his focus on modern Asia not Orientalism, his (often critical) engagement with Washington and his network of relations with the rising new elites of post-colonial south-east Asia. The great Indonesianist, Herb Feith, who knew both men well, once reflected that despite their many common perspectives, Legge’s “emancipatory liberalism” was “more playful and sceptical”.

John David Legge was born in Murchison, WA, on May 24, 1921. He had a particularly Australian style, shaped in part in Western Victoria (at Warrnambool High School and Geelong College). His father was a Presbyterian clergyman and his great-grand-uncle was the missionary James Legge, the translator of Confucius and first professor of Chinese at Oxford. In the midst of academic debate, John Legge’s face – like that of his ancestor – could assume an expression of Protestant tenacity.

At Melbourne University Legge studied in the Department of History – where the influential professor, R.M. (Max) Crawford, was questioning the nature of history as a process of inquiry, and also warning Australians that the age of European empires had ended, and that they must now come to terms with the societies of the new Asia Pacific. In future years Legge addressed these two themes himself as an academic leader, especially when he moved to the new Monash University as foundation professor of history in 1960.

At Monash, Legge created a department of history which was soon regarded as one of the finest in the country. It was distinguished by a fresh approach to the study of theoretical issues, an extraordinary range of expertise – including some of Australia’s most prominent specialists in Australian and European history – and a collegiality which is today still a hallmark.

He was also central in developing the Monash Centre of Southeast Asian Studies – modelling it in some ways on the Cornell Centre, and achieving a wide international reputation for Australia as well as Monash with amazing rapidity. The first south-east Asia specialists who came to Monash – including Feith, Cyril Skinner, Ian Mabbett, Michael Swift, Jamie Mackie and Milton Osborne – were renowned in their various fields. Monash was also now equipped to contribute to the development of south-east Asian studies in the region itself – Legge, for instance, spent 1969-1970 as director of Singapore’s today-famous Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. One of his initiatives there was to institute weekend seminars where public servants, business people and journalists could interact with academics. As always, he believed an academic institution “should not be an ivory tower”.

In his own academic writing following the Cornell sabbatical, Legge’s principal focus was Indonesia – which he recognised as a country of the highest possible importance for Australians to understand. He was the first Australian historian to devote himself primarily to the study of Indonesia, and his best known works are a beautifully crafted biography of Indonesia’s founding statesman Sukarno (first published in 1972) and a general history, Indonesia (first published in 1964). This second work is remarkable in combining Legge’s desire to understand the historical processes which have shaped Indonesia with his commitment to advancing the discipline of history.

It is an achievement in inter-disciplinary collaboration, with the historian Legge reaching out to a range of social science writing. America’s leading anthropologist, Clifford Geertz, acknowledged that it was Legge more than any other scholar who had brought the disciplines together in Indonesian studies.

Alison’s illness in the late 1970s was a blow which the couple met with dignity and fortitude. John faced the untimely death of his 52-year-old life partner with a strength which may have drawn on his childhood in the manse and the early death of his own mother. A second, 16-year marriage to Jane, a fellow Indonesianist, brought new happiness.

It was from his strong academic foundation in history and South-East Asian studies that John Legge played a broader role in Australian public life. Many of his students went to key academic posts around the country, and also to influential positions in government departments. He supported research and educational projects which he believed would help the nation and he accepted high office in a range of public institutions.

Legge was a guiding influence in the Australian Institute of International Affairs (writing its history in 1999) and the Asian Studies Association of Australia – and played a large part in many major forums and “teach-ins”. He was prominent in the contest over Vietnam, debating against supporters of the American-led campaign. From 1987-1993 he was an executive member on the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Board and for many years he chaired the Department of Foreign Affairs Editorial Advisory Board for the series Documents on Australian Foreign Policy.

Legge’s students and colleagues will best remember his delight in debate, fundamental fairness and personal warmth. He was determined that Australia should be in the vanguard of international historical research.

 

The Passing of Harper Lee–A Tribute


February 21, 2016

The Passing of Harper Lee–A Tribute

US President George W. Bush (L) presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harper Lee (C) at the White House in Washington DC. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for “To Kill a Mockingbird” — a searing tale of racial injustice in the Great Depression-era South that was published in July 1960.

Harper Lee, whose first novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” about racial injustice in a small Alabama town, sold more than 40 million copies and became one of the most beloved and most taught works of fiction ever written by an American, died on Friday in Monroeville, Ala., where she lived. She was 89.

Hank Conner, a nephew of Ms. Lee’s, said that she died in her sleep at the Meadows, an assisted living facility.

The instant success of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which was published in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction the next year, turned Ms. Lee into a literary celebrity, a role she found oppressive and never learned to accept.

“I never expected any sort of success with ‘Mockingbird,’ ” Ms. Lee told a radio interviewer in 1964. “I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers, but, at the same time I sort of hoped someone would like it well enough to give me encouragement.”

The enormous popularity of the film version of the novel, released in 1962 with Gregory Peck in the starring role of Atticus Finch, a small-town Southern lawyer who defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, only added to Ms. Lee’s fame and fanned expectations for her next novel.

But for more than half a century a second novel failed to turn up, and Ms. Lee gained a reputation as a literary Garbo, a recluse whose public appearances to accept an award or an honorary degree counted as important news simply because of their rarity. On such occasions she did not speak, other than to say a brief thank you.

Then, in February 2015, long after the reading public had given up on seeing anything more from Ms. Lee, her publisher, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, dropped a bombshell. It announced plans to publish a manuscript — long thought to be lost and now resurfacing under mysterious circumstances — that Ms. Lee had submitted to her editors in 1957 under the title “Go Set a Watchman.”

Ms. Lee’s lawyer, Tonja B. Carter, had chanced upon it, attached to an original typescript of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” while looking through Ms. Lee’s papers, the publishers explained. It told the story of Atticus and his daughter, Jean Louise Finch, known as Scout, 20 years later, when Scout is a young woman living in New York. It included several scenes in which Atticus expresses conservative views on race relations seemingly at odds with his liberal stance in the earlier novel.

The book was published in July with an initial printing of 2 million and, with enormous advance sales, immediately leapt to the top of the fiction best-seller lists, despite tepid reviews.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was really two books in one: a sweet, often humorous portrait of small-town life in the 1930s, and a sobering tale of race relations in the Deep South during the Jim Crow era.

Looking back on her childhood as a precocious tomboy, Scout, the narrator, evokes the sultry summers and simple pleasures of an ordinary small town in Alabama. At a time when Southern fiction inclined toward the Gothic, Ms. Lee, with a keen eye and a sharp ear for dialogue, presented “the more smiling aspects” of Southern life, to borrow a phrase from William Dean Howells.

At the same time, her stark morality tale of a righteous Southern lawyer who stands firm against racism and mob rule struck a chord with Americans, many of them becoming aware of the civil rights movement for the first time.

The novel had its critics. “It’s interesting that all the folks that are buying it don’t know they’re reading a child’s book,” Flannery O’Connor wrote in a letter to a friend shortly after the novel’s appearance. Some reviewers complained that the perceptions attributed to Scout were far too complex for a girl just starting grade school, and dismissed Atticus as a kind of Southern Judge Hardy, dispensing moral bromides.

The book soared miles above such criticisms. By the late 1970s “To Kill a Mockingbird” had sold nearly 10 million copies, and in 1988 the National Council of Teachers of English reported that it was being taught in 74 percent of the nation’s secondary schools. A decade later Library Journal declared it the best novel of the 20th century.

Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in the poky little town of Monroeville, in southern Alabama, the youngest of four children. “Nelle” was a backward spelling of her maternal grandmother’s first name, and Ms. Lee dropped it when “To Kill a Mockingbird” was published, out of fear that readers would pronounce it Nellie, which she hated.

Her father, Amasa Coleman Lee, was a prominent lawyer and the model for Atticus Finch, who shared his stilted diction and lofty sense of civic duty. Her mother, Frances Finch Lee, also known as Miss Fanny, was overweight and emotionally fragile. Neighbors recalled her playing the piano for hours, fussing with her flower boxes and obsessively working crossword puzzles on the front porch. Truman Capote, a friend of Ms. Lee’s from childhood, later said that Nelle’s mother had tried to drown her in the bathtub on two occasions, an assertion that Ms. Lee indignantly denied.

Ms. Lee, like her alter ego Scout, was a tough little tomboy who enjoyed beating up the local boys, climbing trees and rolling in the dirt. “A dress on the young Nelle would have been as out of place as a silk hat on a hog,” recalled Marie Rudisill, Capote’s aunt, in her book “Truman Capote: The Story of His Bizarre and Exotic Boyhood by an Aunt Who Helped Raise Him.”

One boy on the receiving end of Nelle’s thrashings was Truman Persons (later Capote), who spent several summers next door to Nelle with relatives. The two became fast friends, acting out adventures from “The Rover Boys” and, after Nelle’s father gave the two children an old Underwood typewriter, making up their own stories to dictate to each other.

Mr. Capote later wrote Nelle into his first book, “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” where she appears as the tomboy Idabel Thompkins. She made a repeat appearance as Ann Finchburg, nicknamed Jumbo, in his story “The Thanksgiving Visitor.” Ms. Lee returned the favor, casting Mr. Capote in the role of the little blond tale-spinner Dill in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Ms. Lee attended Huntingdon College, a local Methodist school for women, where she contributed occasional articles to the campus newspaper and two fictional vignettes to the college’s literary magazine. Both gave an inkling of themes that would find their way into her novel. “Nightmare” described a lynching, and “A Wink at Justice” told the story of a shrewd judge who makes a Solomonic decision in the case of eight black men arrested for gambling.

After a year at Huntingdon, Ms. Lee transferred to the University of Alabama to study law, primarily to please her father, who hoped that she, like her sister Alice, might become a lawyer and enter the family firm. Her own interests, and perhaps her disposition, led her elsewhere.

“I think lawyers sort of have to conform, and she’d just as soon tell you to go to hell as say something nice and turn around and walk away,” a classmate recalled. Ms. Lee wrote a column called Caustic Comments for Crimson White, the campus newspaper, and contributed articles to the university’s humor magazine, Rammer Jammer, where she became editor in chief in 1946.

After her senior year, she spent a summer at Oxford University as part of a student-exchange program. On her return from England, she decided to go to New York and become a writer.

Ms. Lee arrived in Manhattan in 1949 and settled into a cold-water apartment in the East 80s. After working briefly at a bookstore, she found work as a reservations agent, first for Eastern Airlines and later for the British Overseas Airways Corporation. At night she wrote on a desk made from a door. The local colony of displaced Southerners regarded her askance. “We didn’t think she was up to much,” recalled Louise Sims, the wife of the saxophonist Zoot Sims. “She said she was writing a book, and that was that.”

Michael and Joy Brown, a couple she met through Mr. Capote, believed in her. Mr. Brown, a lyricist, had just received a large check for his work on a musical fashion show for Esquire magazine, and on Christmas Day 1956 he and his wife presented Ms. Lee with a check equal to a year’s salary at BOAC and a note that read: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”

Slowly she developed a small portfolio of short stories, which she took to an agent, Maurice Crain. He suggested she try her hand at writing a novel. Two months later she returned with the first 50 pages of a manuscript she called “Go Set a Watchman.”

It told the story of a small-town lawyer who stands guard outside a jail to protect his client against an angry mob, a central incident in the novel-to-be, whose title Mr. Crain changed to “Atticus” and later, as the manuscript evolved, to “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The title refers to an incident in the novel, in which Atticus, on giving air rifles to his two children, tells them they can shoot at tin cans but never at a mockingbird. Scout, puzzled, learns from Miss Maudie Atkinson, the widow across the street, that there is a proverb, “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird,” and the reason for it: The birds harm no one and only make beautiful music.

Editors at Lippincott told Ms. Lee that her manuscript read like a string of anecdotes, not a novel, but encouraged her to revise. Eventually they paid a small advance and assigned her to work with Tay Hohoff, an experienced editor with whom she developed a close working and personal relationship.

As the novel made its way toward publication, Mr. Capote called with a proposal. He was going to Kansas to research the shocking murder of a farm family. Would she like to come along as his “assistant researchist”?

Ms. Lee jumped at the offer. “He said it would be a tremendously involved job and would take two people,” she later told Newsweek. “The crimes intrigued him, and I’m intrigued by crime — and, boy, I wanted to go. It was deep calling to deep.”

For months, Ms. Lee accompanied Mr. Capote as he interviewed police investigators and local people. Engaging and down to earth, she opened doors that, without her, would have remained closed to her companion, whose flamboyantly effeminate manner struck many townspeople as outlandish. Each night she wrote detailed reports on her impressions and turned them over to Mr. Capote. Later she read his manuscript closely and offered comments.

Ms. Lee with Mary Badham, who played the role of Scout in the 1962 film based on her book “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Credit via Everett Collection

When the book, “In Cold Blood,” was published in 1966 to much acclaim, Mr. Capote repaid her help with a brief thank you on the dedication page and thereafter minimized her role in the book’s creation. By then the friendship had already cooled, and it entered a deep freeze after “To Kill a Mockingbird” became a runaway best seller.

Signs of its success were visible almost immediately after it was published in July 1960. Both Book-of-the-Month Club and the Literary Guild made the novel one of their selections, and Reader’s Digest condensed it. A week after publication, the novel jumped to the top of the best-seller lists; it remained there for 88 weeks.

From what all have said, you often find great teachers outside the educational system whose words open blind minds and eyes, and leave…Maybe the best part of it all, along with the enduring contributions of Mockingbird itself, is that it never became, for her, about herself,…When my daughter was in the 7th grade she stayed home from school one day because she was sick. She begged me to go rent a recent movie from…

Life magazine accompanied Ms. Lee around Monroeville, photographing her with her father on the front porch of the family home, posing on the balcony of the country courthouse and peering in the window of the ramshackle house that served as the model for the home of Boo Radley, the gentle, simpleminded neighbor who befriends Scout. One photograph bore the retrospectively poignant caption: “At her father’s law office where she wrote ‘Mockingbird,’ Miss Lee works on her next novel.”

The next novel refused to come. “Success has had a very bad effect on me,” Ms. Lee told The Associated Press. “I’ve gotten fat — but extremely uncomplacent. I’m running just as scared as before.”

In the months after the novel was published, she contributed two wispy articles to McCall’s and Vogue. To inquiring reporters, she threw out tantalizing hints of a second novel in progress, but the months and the years went by, and nothing appeared in print. She began turning down requests for interviews.

In one of her last interviews, with a Chicago radio show in 1964, Ms. Lee talked in some detail about her literary ambition: to describe, in a series of novels, the world she grew up in and now saw disappearing.

“This is small-town middle-class Southern life as opposed to the Gothic, as opposed to ‘Tobacco Road,’ as opposed to plantation life,” she told her interviewer, referring to the Erskine Caldwell novel, and adding that she was fascinated by the “rich social pattern” in such places. “I would simply like to put down all I know about this because I believe that there is something universal in this little world, something decent to be said for it, and something to lament in its passing,” she continued. “In other words, all I want to be is the Jane Austen of South Alabama.”

The world waited impatiently, and grew accustomed to disappointment. At one point her sister told a British journalist that the nearly completed manuscript had been stolen from Ms. Lee’s apartment during a break-in. In the mid-1980s Ms. Lee became fascinated by a part-time preacher and serial killer whose story she intended to dramatize, after the manner of “In Cold Blood,” in a book tentatively titled “The Reverend.” She even set up camp for nearly a year in Alexander City, Ala., the site of the killings, to do research and absorb the atmosphere. But again nothing materialized.

She returned to her solitary life in Monroeville, keeping the press and the public at bay. In writing “Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee” (2006), Charles J. Shields maintained that he had conducted 600 interviews with friends, acquaintances and former classmates of his subject, but Ms. Lee eluded him, turning down his requests for an interview “with vigor,” he said

Although reporters imagined a Southern Miss Havisham, Ms. Lee lived a quiet but relatively normal life in Monroeville, where friends and neighbors closed ranks around her to fend off unwelcome attention by tourists and reporters. She lived with Alice, who practiced law in her 90s and died in 2014 at 103.

Ms. Lee also attended the local Methodist Church (built in part from her royalties) and occasionally dropped in on English classes at the local high school when “To Kill a Mockingbird” came up for study. She also spent time in Manhattan, where she maintained a small apartment.

Occasionally there were sightings. In 2001, Ms. Lee began attending an annual awards ceremony at the University of Alabama to meet and talk with the winners of a contest for the best essay by an Alabama high school student on “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

In keeping with her longstanding policy, she refused to talk about her own life and work, which became a matter of intense journalistic curiosity again with the release of two films that dealt with the writing of “In Cold Blood.” In one, “Capote” (2005), Ms. Lee was portrayed by Catherine Keener and in the other, “Infamous” (2006), by Sandra Bullock. She did, however, send a letter to the magazine Oprah in 2006 describing her childhood love of reading.

In May 2013, her name appeared in news reports when she filed a lawsuit accusing her literary agent, Samuel Pinkus, of duping her into assigning the novel’s copyright to his company after a stroke she suffered in 2007 left her with impaired hearing and eyesight. When a friend suggested that she develop a form letter for refusing interviews, she appeared to give the matter some thought. What it would say, she told him, “is ‘Hell, no.’ ”

News of the rediscovery of “Go Set a Watchman” threw the literary world into turmoil. Many critics, as well as friends of Ms. Lee, found the timing and the rediscovery story suspicious, and openly questioned whether Ms. Lee, who was shielded from the press by Ms. Carter, was mentally competent to approve its publication.

It remained an open question, for many critics, whether “Go Set a Watchman” was anything more than the initial draft of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” from which, at the behest of her editors, Ms. Lee had excised the scenes from Scout’s childhood and developed them into a separate book. “I was a first-time writer, and I did what I was told,” Ms. Lee wrote in a statement issued by her publisher in 2015.

Many readers, who had grown up idolizing Atticus, were crushed by his portrayal, 20 years on, as a staunch defender of segregation.“The depiction of Atticus in ‘Watchman’ makes for disturbing reading, and for ‘Mockingbird’ fans, it’s especially disorienting,” Michiko Kakutani wrote in a review of the book in The New York Times. “Scout is shocked to find, during her trip home, that her beloved father, who taught her everything she knows about fairness and compassion, has been affiliating with raving anti-integrationist, anti-black crazies, and the reader shares her horror and confusion.”

In her statement, Ms. Lee, who said that she had assumed the manuscript was lost, wrote, “After much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication.”

This month, the producer Scott Rudin announced that he planned to bring “To Kill a Mockingbird” to Broadway in the 2017-18 season, with the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin adapting the novel and Bartlett Sher directing.

A version of this article appears in print on February 20, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Nelle Harper Lee Dies at 89; Wrote ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

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