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April 2011 BOTM: Gone with the Wind

A monthly discussion on varying themes guided by our members. (Book of the Month discussions through December 2011 can be found in this section too.)
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri May 6th, 2011, 12:08 am

I just think in terms of pipe sizes-- 17" is the outside circumference of a 6" corrugated septic drain line. Yep, that's 6" across. Almost skeletal.

annis
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Post by annis » Fri May 6th, 2011, 9:04 pm

May 2011 marks the 75th anniversary of Gone With The Wind's publication!

Abebooks has put together a post listing notable editions of the book and I thought it might be of interest in this thread:
http://www.abebooks.com/books/margaret- ... dA-_-01cta

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Fri May 6th, 2011, 9:18 pm

That first edition is only $25,000 - shipping is another $10. Gee, I don't know - kind of high shipping for a book. :D
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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sat May 7th, 2011, 4:22 am

Having a first edition of GWTW signed by MM would be way cool. But unfortunately, $25,000 is (ahem) a bit more than I like to spend for a book. :p

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Sat May 7th, 2011, 4:20 pm

Lowest price on the original edition is $147.49 but shipping is $28.64. Actually that's not bad considering it ships from the Netherlands. You can get the later printing from 1937 for $14, including shipping.

Somebody bought the signed edition with the Confederate Flag binding. Either that or the owner decided not to sell.

The movie tie-in is available for under $10. Frankly I don't like the cover on that one.

And no way I'm paying $400 for the Chinese edition. I don't even want to think about what that shipping cost would be. :D

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sat May 7th, 2011, 9:35 pm

[quote=""LoveHistory""]Frankly I don't like the cover on that one. [/quote] Shouldn't that be, "Frankly my dear, I don't like the cover on that one." ;)
And no way I'm paying $400 for the Chinese edition.
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Miss Moppet
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Post by Miss Moppet » Sun May 8th, 2011, 1:59 am

[quote=""MLE""]I'm reading through the reconstruction period now, and finding myself acutely uncomfortable at the discussion of "trashy free issue niggers" and the positive spin put on the KKK. This was always my least favorite part of the book. [/quote]

It wasn't at all difficult for me to empathise with the South on my first reading, because other than MM's skill at winning the reader's sympathy, I grew up in Lancashire, home of the cotton industry, where the Civil War is remembered as the cause of the 1860s Cotton Famine which caused mass unemployment and suffering as the Union blockade prevented cotton getting to the mills. Some people who did get it through the blockade held it in warehouses for price rises (cheers, Rhett!). Some mills flew the Confederate flag and the Confederate navy was built in Liverpool, which almost caused the Union to declare war on the UK at one point (and the UK had to pay reparations to the Union after the war). More hereand here.

Image

St George's Hall, Liverpool, where a bazaar in aid of the Southern Prisoners' Relief Fund raised £20,000 in 1864.

However, even in my teens the pro-slavery rhetoric in GWTW disturbed me and I find it very hard to stomach now (although the British Empire had been partially built on the slave trade, so the UK is not clean on this). My sympathy with Scarlett is always strongest during the section at Tara when she is battling for survival. It makes you understand her postwar bitterness and, by extension, that of the Confederates. I think MM does an incredible job of making one woman's experience tell the story of a nation. However, as soon as the action moves back to Atlanta, the alternation of sugary paternalism and KKK apologetics gets old fast. On one page black people are Scarlett's best friends, she trusts them implicitly, they're innocent as toddlers and loyal as faithful hounds. On the next page, they're savages and potential rapists.

I had to quote this bit which I've also shared on Goodreads:
Atlanta had always been musical and loved good music, despite the sneering comments of sister cities of the South concerning the town's lack of culture, and there was now an enthusiastic resurrection of interest that grew stronger as the times grew harder and more tense. It was easier to forget the impudent black faces in the streets and the blue uniforms of the garrison while they were listening to music.
Belle Watling evidently doesn't feel that music and black faces are incompatible as we've already been told that she employs
a negro orchestra.
But perhaps their faces aren't impudent, which puts Belle in a good light as a manager - clearly she knows how to get respect from her staff.

There's quite a bit more I have to say on the race issues which will probably have to wait until tomorrow, but there are two questions I wanted to ask:

Was Scarlett justified in shooting the Yankee deserter?

I say: yes. He was definitely out to steal from her and might well have raped or murdered her and Melly and the children. She doesn't wait to find out, but if she did, she would have given him the advantage. By making the decision to wage total war, Sherman turned civilians into combatants.

Should Rhett have kept the Confederate gold?

I say: probably not, but who cares. I agree that he did what Frank did on a small scale, and as I don't blame Frank at all for profiting from his Confederate property, I can't blame Rhett for what he did. (Interestingly, Frank doesn't see it that way: we're told that he despises Rhett most of all for holding onto the gold, which seems like a projection of his own misgivings). I was glad though that some of Rhett's money found its way to Confederate charities when he was on his win-back-Atlanta campaign later in the book. Would have been nice if he could have contributed to the welfare of the Lancashire mill workers he'd helped impoverish as well as building Scarlett her Barbie Dream House, but there you go.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sun May 8th, 2011, 3:33 am

[quote=""Miss Moppet""]IOn one page black people are Scarlett's best friends, she trusts them implicitly, they're innocent as toddlers and loyal as faithful hounds. On the next page, they're savages and potential rapists. [/quote] I struggled with the depiction of blacks in GWTW -- as I imagine any 21st century reader would -- much more this time around than when I was younger (as a young reader I was, not surprisingly, focused more on the four main characters and their story, and less on the background and social issues). What makes me squirm about GWTW and other pre-Civil Rights fiction is the disparaging way they often describe blacks physically. For instance, when Scarlett meets Big Sam in Shantytown, the way he is described makes him sound like a baboon. I heard author Pat Conroy say on a program just this week, that he has never met a black person who's read GWTW that liked it. Well, no wonder.


Was Scarlett justified in shooting the Yankee deserter?
I agree, yes. To me, this was not at all controversial. He was a male, obviously bent on theft and destruction and who knows what else, and they were a household of helpless females (Gerald O'Hara doesn't count since he was basically deranged). Scarlett shot him in defense of herself and every other woman in the house; the fact that he was a Yankee was beside the point.

Should Rhett have kept the Confederate gold?
I agree probably not, but then Rhett probably should not have done almost everything he did in GWTW. He was a scoundrel (albeit a likeable one ;) ) from beginning to end; this was just par for the course for him. You do bring out an interesting parallel between him and Frank, though; I didn't make that connection when I read it. Frank's hatred for Rhett did seem unreasonable, though, and I wondered what caused his feelings to turn. Perhaps he sensed the attraction between Rhett and Scarlett and was subconsciously jealous? (or did he already hate Rhett before Scarlett tricked him into marrying her? I can't remember.....)

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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Sun May 8th, 2011, 9:54 am

I remember Scarlett shooting the deserter - yes, I agree, she was justified. She was protecting herself, her family and her home. She didn't want to wait to find out what he may have done to them. The fight for survival would've been very strong.
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Post by LoveHistory » Sun May 8th, 2011, 12:16 pm

Actually Michy the quote should be: "My dear, I don't give a damn for that cover design." ;)

I'm actually not bothered much by the way the KKK is depicted. I expect some romanticism and rationalizing, especially considering that the author didn't live through it herself, and was never a victim of the Klan's activities. I balance it with the other side of the story, but it doesn't make me lose sleep. Also there were still people living when the book was written who could have made life very uncomfortable for MM had she written differently about this aspect of the south.
On one page black people are Scarlett's best friends, she trusts them implicitly, they're innocent as toddlers and loyal as faithful hounds. On the next page, they're savages and potential rapists.
I view this as part of showing how much Scarlett's world has changed. Before the war she was sheltered completely from the more dangerous elements of society, black or white. She had to adjust her thinking quite a bit when she learned that what she'd been taught about black people was largely untrue. Makes sense that the pendulum would swing from implicit trust to outright fear for a while. There are bad people in every race and every segment of society. There were bad people who had been slaves and were out for revenge. The other former slaves were busy trying to survive and finally start their lives; they didn't have time to harass the whites even if they'd wanted to, which they didn't. Like with most groups of people, the bad ones get more press.

Frank vs Rhett. Frank heard whispered comments about Scarlett and Rhett, but his dislike goes back much further. He was uncomfortable with being associated with Rhett as early as the barbeque at Twelve Oaks. Add to that the fact that Frank was a loyal confederate and Rhett was an opportunistic scoundrel who didn't believe in the cause, and the rumors about the man and Frank's wife. With regard to the money: Frank may have profited from what he owned, but Rhett kept money that didn't belong to him.

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