My guilty pleasure

gone with the wind


I’m sick of everything to do with moving, so I decided to take a break for awhile.

I am an avid reader.  I have been all my life, and even as I continue with school and the heavy reading load that accompanies it, I still enjoy reading for pleasure.  I would much rather read than sit and watch tv or a movie.  A list of my favorite books and authors is a monumental task that I’ll save for some other day, but high on the list is Gone with the Wind.  I read it over the summer between middle and high school and have reread it many times since.  As a going away present from DH when we were first dating, he gave me a copy of the novel (with a rather large picture of himself inside the cover, but the thougt was still lovely).  It has traveled with me everywhere I’ve moved, through college, and into married life.  I even skipped the Super Bowl one year to watch the movie rendition…not something I recommend.  So, yes, I am a Gone with the Wind fanatic.  It’s glamorous and romantic and passionate but hurtful and vindictive at the same time.  I have read it many times but have yet to figure out who Rhett and Scarlett really are.

But I have a confession to make.  I read Gone with the Wind and ate it up without really thinking about it.  Several years after I first read it, my mother told me about Scarlett, the sequel by Alexandra Ripley.  At first I was outraged that someone could think they could even come close to doing such a book justice, but I had to read it.  It was a trashy romance but gave readers the conclusion they so desperately wanted from the original Gone with the Wind.

Then a few years ago I stumbled across The Wind Done Gone at a used book store.  It calls itself the “unofficial parody,” and takes the traditional Southern novel from the slaves and freed slaves perspective.  I enjoyed the book, but I would recommend being fresh on your Gone with the Wind details before you read it.  It enriches the details and makes the flow much easier if you are.  Most importantly, the book made me re-look at the original Gone with the Wind in a completely different light.  The original novel is rather iffy on historical details and does portray a highly romanticized version of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the South.  It was written in the 1930s, so what can you really expect, but I was so ashamed of myself for not thinking critically about my beloved book.  How could I read it so many times, agonize over the characters, feel like I owned the book, and yet just take the text unquestioned from the shelf?

After that experience, I almost became a bigger fan of Gone with the Wind but a more aware fan.  I wanted to drag the original off the shelf and reread it to catch all the stuff I thought I’d missed, but I didn’t have time.  And I think I was a little scared of what I might find.  I still love it for its superficial self.  But then I found Rhett Butler’s People.  I have waited and teased myself with this book for months.  Written by Donald McCaig, a noted Civil War author, Rhett Butler’s People takes Gone with the Wind from Rhett’s perspective.  I am just about half way through right now.  School work is slowing me down.  So far, it has failed to wow me like I was with The Wind Done Gone.  I don’t know if I agree with the childhood that was given to Rhett, and I agree with Tina Jordan’s reviewthat McCaig didn’t quite capture the essence of some of the main characters.  For a Civil War writer, I also think he incorporates historical detail rather cheesily as well.  Like any die-hard fan though, I’m holding out hope.  I’m only half way.  It could turn around.

I’m glad I’m reading it though.  I have evolved from a generic fan of a heartbreaking romance story to one that’s interested in the entire Gone with the Wind culture.  I wish there had been a class in college about it.  I would have loved to examine every page and find out why it still commands attention but also find all its flaws.  Perhaps it’s because of the flaws that it is loved so much.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Robert Gulledge
    Mar 14, 2009 @ 19:40:31

    I have also been a long time fan of “Gone With The Wind”, albeit from the position of having a long line of relatives, old letters from the civil war era, and personal family stories that have been passed down over the decades.

    In this current time, with all of the media emphasis seeming to hone in on the atrocities that White Southerners heaped on the Negro race during the 19th century, I often draw on those other resources to keep a balance between political correctness and the truth.

    The old saying “History is written by the victor” is more true today than it ever was before.

    I also agree that there should be a class in college that would educate our current generation on that long ago Civil War culture, but unfortunately a course that would reflect all sides of the Civil War era fairly will never happen in our lifetime.

    Robert Gulledge
    206 Morgan Lane
    Ozark, AL 36360


    • solwindchime
      Mar 16, 2009 @ 17:47:01

      I’m so excited to hear from another Gone with the Wind fan! I can’t imagine reading the novel with the benefit of family letters. It must increase the flavor of the book tremendously.

      Your mention of how “History is written by the victors” is so true. I’m wrestling with that right now in my graduate studies. My current class on Asian military history is made significantly harder because so much of it is either ignored or researched and written from the Western perspective. It’s one of those things no one notices until it’s far too late.


  2. I'm a veteran supporter
    Mar 23, 2009 @ 13:27:53

    I truly admire people who loved to read. Well… I used to read some sweet novels when I was young and even write poems about my experiences. As I grow old, and the digital world has taken my attention, my passion to reading and writing is now gone.

    Now, I’d rather watch a movie than drag myself to holding a book and read. But I’ll try to rekindle it. I’ll try to find the same book you’re reading – Gone with the Wind =)


    • solwindchime
      Mar 23, 2009 @ 18:29:06

      I truely admire those that can write poetry. I can write ridiculously long papers on strategy, but writing poetry always escaped me. I’m also horrible at spelling, which always astonished my teachers in school because they didn’t understand how someone who read so much couldn’t absorb the spelling side. Go figure!

      Speaking toward digital world and reading, the current trend is for sites like Amazon to offer Kindle, or digial reading devices. People are “lucky enough” to be able to instantly download books to the new technology. It’s small, and you can even get the New York Times downloaded to it daily. Call me old fashioned, but I like holding the book in my hand and actually turning the pages, not simulating it. I’m going to be so sad it they eventually replace libraries. Browsing the shelves is one of my favorite things to do.


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