Gone With the Wind Turns 77 This Month

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Gone With the Wind turns 77 this month.  The original publication date of the novel was in June 1936, with varying dates in Wikipedia.  So today I salute the grand dame of historical fiction in the United States, with a nod to romantic fiction (although of course there’s no happy ending).

Wikipedia has a great entry on Gone With the wind here. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gone_with_the_Wind) and IMDB summarizes the great quotes from the movie here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031381/quotes.

Gone With the Wind has always been a special book/movie for me. In fact, I borrowed the title of my blog, the phrase “Don’t Call Me Sugar” from the movie. The exact quote is “Great balls of fire. Don’t bother me anymore, and don’t call me sugar.”

I always thought GWTW got short shrift from critics, but that’s not surprising given the way the public snatched it up. Remember that in 1936, the country was still in the throes of the Great Depression. The book struck chords with a public that still remembered World War I, and in the South, scars from the Civil War still ran very deep. Unfortunately, segregation was still firmly entrenched, and many upper class White families still had African-American servants. It became a best-seller almost immediately.

As a young girl growing up in the seventies and eighties, I absolutely worshiped the book. I collected everything related to the book and movie, from bears to porcelain figurines. However, by the time I enrolled in an English program at UGA, it was beat into me that Gone With the Wind was crass popular fiction, and not worthy of my continuing interest. Sigh.

I’ve moved on from my English degree. I’ve decided I like to read what I like to read, critics be damned. A few years ago my husband bought me Rhett Butler’s People, a sequel to the original book authorized by the Margaret Mitchell estate. Initially, I couldn’t believe that he bought it for me. I was appalled. How could he support the author who dared to walk in Margaret Mitchell’s footsteps? He had spent a lot of money on a hardback that I NEVER would have bought. Emphasis on never. I stewed. I couldn’t t ask him to take it back. Really, knowing my history with the book, it was a thoughtful gift.

Once I gave it a try, I was hooked. I loved it. Much of the book runs parallel with GWTW, so we see a lot of the action from Rhett’s perspective. In my opinion, it was a sequel definitely worth reading.

Since I got married, I’ve collected Hallmark Gone With the Wind ornaments, and last Christmas I received a porcelain sculpture that when you press a button plays (in Clark Gable’s voice) the following quote:

No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.

Hold on while I fan myself. Sigh.

Another interesting phenomena that I have found is that when I read the book, in my mind Scarlett and Rhett do not end up together in the future after the book’s end. The hurt for both of them is too deep and the scars too much to manage. However, when I watch the movie, whether it’s the performance by Vivien Leigh or Clark Gable I’m not sure, but I just know that she will get him back.

Quickpoll: Since for the reader characters don’t end when you stop reading the book — Do you think Rhett and Scarlett will get back together?  Give your opinion in the poll.  I’ve told you what I think and I would love to hear your opinion in the comments. 

Bonus: Without using Google, do you know the original name of the character Scarlett?  Big surprise: It was Pansy!  Can you imagine?

Happy Birthday to Gone With the Wind!!