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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gone With the Wind

by Margaret Mitchell

I read Gone With the Wind for my 4th book in the classics challenge , my 2nd Chunkster challenge book and for my 3rd TBR challenge. It makes me feel much better about reading this book that I can kill 3 birds with one stone.

The size was daunting, but it was the racial slurs that made this book so hard to read. I understand that this was realistic for the 1860's and, probably even for the 1930's when this book was written, but to read these derogatory terms today assaults my sensitivities. It was interesting to learn there was a class of whites, just above the po' white trash, that were called Crackers (with a capital C). I don't know why but I thought that was a more current term.

I found that I really did not like Scarlett, Rhett or Ashley in the book, whereas I did like them in the movie. Scarlet was so selfish and self-centered. Every action and every decision was made based on what she would get in return. Even when she appeared to be doing something nice, there was ulterior motives. I found myself forgiving Rhett some of his 'rascalness' towards the end of the book. Or maybe what I really felt at the end of the book was pity for everyone, except maybe Melanie, who I felt sad for because of the happiness she might have had if it were not for Scarlet and Ashley.

Gone With the Wind was the only book Margaret Mitchell wrote. It was published in 1936, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and was made into a movie in 1939. Mitchell's work relates the story of a rebellious Georgia Southern belle named Scarlett O'Hara and her experiences with friends, family, lovers, and enemies in the South during the antebellum period, the Civil War, and the Reconstruction era.

I'm glad that I finally did read this classic in American literature, but I will not be joining the ranks of those who reread it. I thought it was a splendid work, but it is so terribly tragic.

15 comments:

Kristina said...

I read this book way back when I was in high school and I don't remember being shocked by the language. I think I just put it down to the time it was written and accepted it as the way people talked then.

That being said, I wouldn't reread it either. Once was enough. And I did like the movie better.

Lover of Books said...

I read the book too. I liked it but same as you not sure I would want to re-read it. If I ever get my own copy I might. :)

slyam said...

Thanks for sharing your experience

The Traveller said...

I've been curious about this book for ages! It is one of those that crops up everywhere, and everyone seems to have read it. Your review definitely piqued my interest!

Cassie said...

I might pick up the book sometime. I love the movie so much. It is one of my all time favorites so it worries me to read the book. It is so rare when I like both and after your review I'm not sure I would.

Carrie K said...

I read it in High School and don't remember being particularly horrified by the casual racism either, which makes me cringe to recall.

I also thought Scarlett was wonderful and Melanie was a drip.

Re-reading it a couple of years ago, I loved Melanie and pretty much hated Ashley. Rhett was still my guy though.

Camille said...

I read this in 6th grade because my teacher showed us the movie in class and everything. (We didn't have to read the book for school, I just did it anyway.) She must have been a big fan because there was a puzzle of the movie poster on the wall of the classroom. Anyway, I loved it at 11, and I still really like the movie. I, too, would not re-read the book, though.

Framed said...

I loved the book when I read it in jr high, but I don't think I would like it as much now. Let's face it, at that age, your hormones are racing and the romance grabs you. Who wouldn't want to be Scarlett, the belle of the ball? I always thought the book was written as a commentary on the folly of the southern way of life including racism.

Alyson said...

I think I will eventually read this book, or listen to it at least. I've always wanted to, and I attempted it once, but only read the first chapter.

Angela/SciFiChick said...

I read it in high school, but I remember that I didn't like it at all. I liked the movie better.. maybe because Scarlet was a little less of a tramp. LOL

Nancy said...

I find it interesting that what was once considered a classic, can be offensive.

We just watched Gigi. Oscar Winner for Best Picture in 1958 (I think). I saw it once at a kid. This time around I was horrified! I have not seen the Gone With the Wind movie in ages. I wonder how I would feel now.

Nice to read your thoughts on this book.

allyson s. said...

Gone With the Wind is one of my all time favorite books. I've lost count of how many times I have read it, and also it's sequal Scarlet (which was written by another author). Yes, Scarlet is very selfish in the book, but I think it's a very honest and accurate depiction of her growing up in a time that is very different from the one we live in. It isn't a glossed over fantacy like so many other books provide. Plus, you can always tell a book is good when the charactors come alive so much that you can get mad at them for what they are doing, cry for them, and laugh with them. Personally, I did not like the movie version of the book at all. To many important parts of Scarlett's life where left out. I just thought I'd give another view point for people considering reading this amazing book : ) Also, if you read the sequal Scarlett does eventually grow up and learn the value of love, it's another great read.

somi-li-cious! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
somi-li-cious! said...

I like gone with the wind. it is a beautiful book and well written too. i didnt think much of the racial slurs, that was the way of life then. It is a truthful depiction of life at the time. I didnt like ashley, i liked rhett Butler, scarlett and Melanie were just acceptable though scarlett had the advantage of being interesting. I would read it again if i had the time.

Anonymous said...

I read this book and I liked it very much. It's my favourite book. I laughed in the beginnig, and I cried in the end.Rhett was my favourite character. I liked Scarlett in the beggining 'cuz she wasn't like the rest of the people, she'd done something to earn some money, but I hated her after she married Rhett for money and she didn't want to tell him that she loves him.