Gone With the Wind Turns 77 This Month

Product Details

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!!

About “Don’t Call Me Sugar!” or Why GWTW Wouldn’t be Published Today

I was looking around for quotes that might provide some insight into my background and goals in starting this blog, and I returned to an old favorite of mine, Gone With the Wind. I know that the book has faded from the public eye, because of the painful issue of slavery and the famous “rape” scene where Rhett carries Scarlett up the stairs. Frankly, my dear, I don’t care.  The book remains one of my favorite of all times. (And for those not aware of the differences between the book and the movie, there are many, one being that the word Frankly is not in the book.  The line is “My dear, I don’t give a damn.”)

“Don’t Call Me Sugar” is directly from Scarlett herself.  She made it through the Civil War and started a lumber business in a time when there were few women of business.  While sexism has decreased in the workplace, after twenty years of working I still find myself on the receiving end of that condescending tone. My goal as a writer is to create heroines who are strong and independent women, and to help them find their match–someone strong enough to not be intimidated by her intelligence or ambition.

From Wikipedia:

Margaret Mitchell began writing Gone with the Wind in 1926 to pass the time while recovering from an auto-crash injury that refused to heal.[1] In April 1935, Harold Latham of Macmillan, an editor who was looking for new fiction, read what she had written and saw that it could be a best-seller. After Latham agreed to publish the book, Mitchell worked for another six months checking the historical references, and rewrote the opening chapter several times.[2] Mitchell and her husband John Marsh, a copy editor by trade, edited the final version of the novel. Mitchell wrote the book’s final moments first, and then wrote the events that lead up to it.[3] As to what became of her star-crossed lovers, Rhett and Scarlett, after the novel ended, Mitchell did not know, and said, “For all I know, Rhett may have found someone else who was less difficult.”[1]Gone with the Wind is the only novel by Mitchell published during her lifetime.[4]

In one article I read a long time ago, the story is that Margaret Mitchell gave her book to Harold Latham in eleven battered boxes, with scraps of paper everywhere.  If she were searching for a publisher today, this is what she would hear:

  • It’s too long. Cut it in half.
  • No one wants to read about history.
  • You can’t kill Bonnie Blue.  It’s too much of a downer.
  • Why isn’t there a happy ending? You have to end with them together.
  • Last but not least, lose those other husbands. The book should focus on the hero and heroine only.

You know I’m right.

The purpose of this blog is to share ideas and thoughts about writing, publishing, and everything in between.  Please feel free to leave comments.

Happy reading!