Thoughts on Gone With the Wind

(I wrote most of this a few days ago offline, but now have peppered it with a bunch of quotations from the text)

As I’ve already written in earlier posts, I considered not having read this iconic work a serious gap in my ‘cultural literacy’ – one that has now thankfully been rectified.  At 959 pages, it took me maybe 20 hours total to read (at my age, that’s a pretty big time investment that I don’t make lightly)

I enjoyed the leisurely introduction of the characters in this book, the sheer length of which I suppose allows Mitchell this luxury.  Rhett Butler, for example, doesn’t even make his first appearance until after page 100.

To me, Gone With the Wind is the story of four people and how they dealt with the ‘end’ of the southern culture and the trauma of the Civil War. Agreed, the book has one protagonist, the infamous Scarlett O’Hara (-Hamilton-Kennedy-Butler), but her interaction with one or more of the other three (Rhett Butler, Ashley Wilkes, and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes) is continual throughout the work.

Rhett Butler is the opportunist, who sees the fall of the South as a way to enrich himself.  He is a social ‘outcast’ who refuses to let an earlier ‘indiscretion’ (at least by society’s standards) ruin his life.  He is imminently practical and often mentions how one can make money during the emergence of a civilization, but also during its dissolution, and that money can be made more quickly during the fall.

(regarding Scarlett’s thoughts of him) “But somehow, unbidden, she had a feeling of respect for Rhett Butler for refusing to marry a girl who was a fool.” – chapter 6 Read the rest of this entry »

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Finally Finished!

Yes! I was able to complete this book over the weekend, reading the final 200 pages or so today.  I liked it very much, and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  I’ve written earlier that I’ve never seen the movie or read the book, and I was under the impression all the action took place during the Civil War, but the book goes well beyond the end of the war and far into the Reconstruction era.  I’ll write something longer about my overall impressions later, but wanted to brag that I had indeed finished this very long novel.

Another Progress Report: Gone With the Wind

I just finished with part four of GWTW (this is one loooonnng book – 959 pages in my edition). I have 170 pages to go – roughly four hours of reading at my ‘slow’ pace. Can I make it to the end today? We’ll see…

Progress report: Gone With the Wind

As of this morning, I have completed part 2 (I think that’s up to chapter 19).

****READ NO FURTHER if you don’t want me to spoil anything…****

Ashley Wilkes is a POW in Rock Island, Illinois. Sherman’s army is “at the gates” of Atlanta. Rhett Butler is still ‘working on’ Scarlett. Melanie Wilkes is still oblivious to Scarlett’s true nature (seemingly). Scarlett is still remarkably self-centered in spite of all the suffering and privation surrounding her. Oh, and Melanie is pregnant (Scarlett is predictably upset by this development)

The Civil War is about 75% over (chronologically) but the book is only about 30% over. How is MM going to fill up another 600 pages? I will find out soon, hopefully…

Now reading: Gone With the Wind

This will be my fourth book in Project: Civil War.  It is a dauntingly long novel, with which I’m sure everyone is familiar.  It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and, of course, was made into one of the most famous movies of all time. Now, frankly, I don’t give a damn (sorry, that was too easy) about movies per se and I am one of the probably few people who has never seen Gone With the Wind.  I have seen bits and pieces here and there, and have always meant to watch it, but never got around to it (or never had the four hours in a row to spare).

Now that I’m reading the novel, I consider my never having watched the movie a good thing.  I have been shocked, Shocked!  (there’s another famous movie for you) to learn a few things.  A)  Scarlett is only 16 years old at the start of the novel B) she actually got married and had a child with Melanie Hamilton’s brother Charles (who quickly dies, leaving her with child and in mourning)

As of this morning’s one-hour reading session while sipping my Starbucks (Grande Decaf with Hazelnut syrup with no room for cream), I am about 175 pages into the book (my version anyway), which finds Scarlett living in Atlanta, with her sister in law and ‘aunt-in-law’.  Those poor unfortunates assume Scarlett’s depression is due to her dead husband, and not the fact that she has to follow society’s conventions regarding mourning and is not “having any fun.”  Scarlett sees a chance at getting out, though, to help fill in with preparations for some party, and that is where I left her this morning.

I am enjoying the book so far.