Skip to comments.Gone With The Wind (column by George Will)
Posted on 06/25/2006 9:55:57 AM PDT by EveningStar
Confined to her bed in Atlanta by a broken ankle and arthritis, she was given a stack of blank paper by her husband, who said, "Write a book." Did she ever.
The novel's first title became its last words, "Tomorrow is another day," and at first she named the protagonist Pansy. But Pansy became Scarlett, and the title of the book published 70 years ago this week became "Gone With the Wind."
You might think that John Steinbeck, not Margaret Mitchell, was the emblematic novelist of the 1930s, and that the publishing event in American fiction in that difficult decade was his "Grapes of Wrath." Published in 1939, it captured the Depression experience that many Americans had, and that many more lived in fear of. Steinbeck's novel became a great movie, and by now 14 million copies of the book have been sold...
(Excerpt) Read more at townhall.com ...
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A wonderful, amazing book. I did not read GWTW until just a few years ago and I had probably seen the move 30 times. What a revelation! It truly is the Great American Novel, and none better has yet been written. Margaret Mitchell captured the spirit of the American woman better than any modern feminist possibly could. If you have never read it, do yourself a favor and read it!!!
Too bad George Will cannot be "Gone with the Wind."
Margaret Mitchell captured the spirit of the Southern woman ... a breed apart from the American woman ... was then and is now.
The movie was wonderful of course, but like any film it condensed some minor story lines and characters.
I agree, reading the book is a great experience.
GWTW is the best bad novel ever written nothing more though it is a fun read. I read it two years ago. No American novel is better than Moby Dick.
Having seen the movie countless times, I finally bought the book and read it on vacation one Summer. I think I may read it again this vacation. This post reminded me what a good read it was. So much to read and vacation is so short - I tend to re-read books I know are good - hate to waste good reading time on a bad book!
To Kill a Mockingbird stays on my bedside table - it's a well worn favorite.
bet your freepmail box stays pretty full with a screenname like that.
OK, I must have been sleeping during this past year...what happened to Will? Why is everyone mad at him?
Gosh, I've never read it; never considered it, but now I might put it on my summer reading list.
It is a little above an ordinary potboiler but fun nonetheless. Great literature? Not even close.
I'm not looking for "great literature" in the summer, are you? :-)
Gone With The Wind is a classic literary masterpiece, and parents should make their children watch it so they get an accurate portrayal of American history. Along with Gods and Generals, one of the best historical movies of all time.
It truly is the Great American Novel, and none better has yet been written. Margaret Mitchell captured the spirit of the American woman better than any modern feminist possibly could.
No, it was not Great. A good story with interesting character development but not great.
As for capturing the spirit of the American woman, I hope that you don't see the grasping, conniving Scarlett as the archetypal American woman.
My mother gave me GWTW to read the summer after fourth grade. She wisely told me that GWTW is the kind of book that is fun to read and very emotional. It is the kind of book one should read interspersed between other more serious books ... and that way, the fun one is more fun and the serious ones have more meaning.
Great literature? Certainly not ... more like an earlier version of popular culture ... but still well worth the reading.
"Not trust a darky! Scarlett trusted them far more than most white people. ... They still stuck with their white folks and worked much harder than they ever worked in slave times."
In both the book and the movie, the character Mammy had more sense than all the white characters combined. She spoke more for the social traditions of the South than anyone else.
Actually, yes, Scarlett epitomizes the spirit of the American woman ain the early 21st century. She was a feminist before that term had even been dreamed up.
More than any other character in the book, Scarlett O'Hara is relevant to today's world. How many Melanie's do you see on the scene today?
It's not that well-written but the story line and the characters are unmatched by anything, short of the novels of Charles Dickens.
Who can forget red-headed Will the foreman, or the Slatterys, or Aunt Pittypat, or Dilsey, not to mention Mammy, Pork, Suellen --- how many minor characters are there? And they all fit and they are all believable.
And the writing is awful.
Discussions of whether GWTW is "great literature" are pointless - a matter simply in the eye of the beholder. The real test is whether it survives and once opened is read from cover to cover. It passes that test.
Not everyone in the South treated their slaves [and then former slaves] well; however, in my research, I have found countless examples where freed slaves chose not to leave their former owners or the plantations on which they lived. Others left but found really hard times ahead of them.
One very telling example is a story related to me recently by a 94 year old friend:
She was working for the local doctor in this rural county when a very elderly black man came in one day, with his hat in his hand, and said, "Excuse me, Miss, but they tell me you are Miss Austinia's granddaughter". She replied, "Yes, I am." He then told her, "We went North after the War. We were terribly poor and there was no work. If Miss Austinia had not taught me how to read, I never would have made it ...".
In this state, and probably in others as well, it was against the law to teach blacks to read. Schools were conducted on many plantations and children from surrounding farms were educated there. In any number of cases I have run across, black children were taught to read as well.
The South is much maligned and unrightly so. Slavery would have died a natural death as it had become un-economical in an increasingly industrial age. The history of this country was forever changed, and not for the better, by the deaths in the Civil War of a generation of the best young men ... South and North.
Yeah. Will and Gergen are typical of "conservatives" the liberal media puts on tv. Like David Brooks, they are house conservatives whose job it is to show the rest of the world that conservative opinion is honored; when in fact it's dismissed from the gitgo.
My Grandmother was a friend of Margaret Mitchell's at one point in their lives. Until her dying day my Grandmother couldn't believe MM wrote that book.
I'd recommend it for entertainment and epic drama, but the "accurate portrayal of American history" is open to debate. ;)
Don't know what the matter has been with Will lately. He seems to spend most of his time apologizing for being conservative.
He ought to just say what he thinks and let the chips fall where they may.
It's a book only a teenaged girl could love; the movie is worse.
MM had help from a Priest, but I can't remmber his name....my father wrote about it in his autobiography.
Thanks for a great post -- freedom allows our culture to turn on a dime. And sometimes for the better...
I liked the Movie GWTW, but whoever wrote that sequel should have been horsewhipped.
GWTW prettifies slavery and justifies the post-war Ku Klux Klan. These are serious flaws but both institutions were long dead by the time the novel was written. More harm is done by a modern novel which justifies abortion (e.g., John Updike's Couples).
My college literature professor dismissed Gone with the Wind as a soap opera.
As Groucho Marx says in one of the Marx Brothers movies, "I'd horsewhip you, if I had a horse."
I remember reading somewhere that 'Gone With the Wind' was rated the best movie of all time by the American people. Number two was 'Casablanca'.
If I had been a girl, my name would have been Melanie. Plenty of women my age who do have that name.
If you want to read "The Novel of the South" try Flash for Freedom by George MacDonald Fraser.
Thomas Sowell made the point that Christianity changed in the 18th and 19th centuries. He pointed out that slavery existed and was taken for granted an an institution in all cultures and worldwide, throughout history. And that includes Christian culture as well as Confuscian, Budhist, Hindu, and Moslem.The history of this country was forever changed, and not for the better, by the deaths in the Civil War of a generation of the best young men ... South and North.
But in the past two centuries Christianity became able to prevent slave raids of its own territory, and then became willing to fight for the freedom of strangers. Britain established a squadron of the Royal Navy permanently stationed off western Africa for no other purpose than to interdict the slave trade, without any hope of recompense, never mind profit. Not only so, but Britain did not recognize the Confederacy and interfere in the Civil War, which would have doomed the Union, even though cotton fueled Britain's industrial revolution. Fear of just such action by the British was the sole reason for the Emanicpation Proclamation, which was unpopular in the North and anathema in the South, but assured that British Christians would not support the Confederacy in any way.
Sowell points out that the South had a tiger by the tail and could not let go; abolition would mean letting abused black slaves have the opportunity to undertake to get even. And for that reason, before the war abolition was a marginal, radical, position upheld by few.
I've always thought that there was a blockade to prevent British ships from buying the South's cotton.
Now that was a novel!
I bet your freep name has given you a bit of notoriety too. Kinda like the shadow. There is something to be said about anonymity.
I read it in the summer of '63. Many times since. Great literature---like with snob appeal? I suppose not. The contemporaries of Dumas and Stevenson weren't convinced of their immortality either.
But as far as I'm concerned, Gone With The Wind is time-tested. Besides, it's straight out of the spring of timeless storytelling: the hero tale where the hero is, first, clueless in clover, unappreciative and immature; then disaster strikes; then things get REALLY bad; then they climb out of the mess, inch by inch, forever changed, and whether they win or lose they have achieved authenticity and self-realization while remaining true to their deepest value.
That's The Story, and it always strikes a responsive chord in our hearts, always will. Every generation waits to hear it and be awakened by it.
So yeah, it's great literature. :)
The OVERRATED Steinbeck merely became a favorite of "educators" due to his socialist politics and flair for self-promotion. The only thing worse than the Grapes of Wrath was the horrible movie they made of it with Henry "Jane's Dad" Fonda.
As it stands, my favorite "southern" novel is "A Cry of Absense" by Madison Jones.