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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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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Fri April 8th, 2011, 7:32 pm

One little irony that I've never picked up on in previous readings.... in the early scene where the family is relaxing after supper, waiting for Ellen to return, Careen is crying over a romance she's reading about a young woman who threatens to take the veil after the death of her lover. She had no idea that was her own mother's story.
This is the kind of thing that makes this novel so rewarding to re-read. Most novels, I will read and enjoy once, and have no particular interest in ever re-reading them. It's so wonderful to find new depths and textures in a novel with every re-read. This is such an interesting thread, I really do feel like looking up my copy and doing yet one more re-read - don't know if I have my old copy in my apartment, but I could always check out a library copy.

I think you're right, MLE, about the resilience theme. One of the reasons I could stick with Scarlett as a main character, despite her flaws, was the sense that she had potential to grow as a person. Even when her adaptability seems to take her in an unpleasant direction, the very fact that she is so adaptable makes one feel she could grow in the right direction, as well. And she does - it's just that her growth tends to come too late to avert some serious heartbreak.

I've heard that Margaret Mitchell did plan to write a sequel, but her early death intervened. The novel does cry out for a sequel, but really, only Margaret Mitchell could have done justice to one. And maybe one of the reasons GWTW lingers so in the memory is because the ending is not completely resolved. One keeps turning the story over in one's mind, and asking whether Scarlett has really changed enough to make a relationship work. Despite everything she has been through, she's still quite young at the end of the novel.
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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Fri April 8th, 2011, 8:04 pm

MLE said: At the end, Rhett has thrown in the towel. He's become static. It is Scarlett, ever resourceful, never giving up (although with blinkers that keep her from adjusting her vector to avoid snares) who carries the theme forward.
I'm not sure I would write Rhett off as static by the end. He's emotionally drained and has acknowledged to himself that his relationship with Scarlett is too damaged to continue. I think the sheer fact that he's made the conscious decision to walk away from Scarlett shows that he's still changing. On the other hand, what complicates that statement is that Rhett has had a habit of cutting people off and running away when it suited him, so I guess it depends on how you look at it. His thought process at the end, though, made me think of a man who has decided he's going to change how he's been living his life.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Fri April 8th, 2011, 10:31 pm

[quote=""Margaret""]I've heard that Margaret Mitchell did plan to write a sequel, but her early death intervened. The novel does cry out for a sequel, but really, only Margaret Mitchell could have done justice to one. [/quote] That's interesting, I've always heard the opposite -- that she refused to write a sequel, repeatedly and adamantly. She said the story had come to its natural and proper ending. Actually, I think she was pretty smart -- she probably realized she could never again write something that good, and so she quit while she was ahead. In his intro, Michener also states that she had no intention of ever writing another book.

You're right, though, no one else but MM could have written a decent sequel. That's why when Alexandra Ripley's sequel came out, I refused to read it.

[quote=""Ludmilla""]I'm not sure I would write Rhett off as static by the end. [/quote] Me either..... he was so changed by first Bonnie's birth and then her death, I don't think he had stabilized by the end of GWTW. But I'll withhold judgement until I'm through reading.....

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Post by LoveHistory » Sat April 9th, 2011, 12:41 am

One little irony that I've never picked up on in previous readings.... in the early scene where the family is relaxing after supper, waiting for Ellen to return, Careen is crying over a romance she's reading about a young woman who threatens to take the veil after the death of her lover. She had no idea that was her own mother's story.
And what would become her own story. Though in her case it wasn't a threat.

One thing I noticed this time that I glossed over before is a statement about Scarlett's wanting Wade to go to Tara to keep him safe from the fighting near Atlanta. Mitchell does state that she is annoyed by his clinging but the primary motivation is still her child's safety. Last time I missed that she gave a damn at all. She might not have been greatly in touch with her maternal instincts, but they were there nonetheless.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sat April 9th, 2011, 4:15 pm

In case you haven't yet heard..... this coming week marks the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, which started the Civil War. So it's very appropriate that we're reading GWTW this month. :)

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sun April 10th, 2011, 5:50 am

An amusing detail I just read.....

At the beginning of Chapter 13, she writes that the first two pages of the newspaper were always devoted to, among other things listed, restoratives for lost manhood. I thought that was a distinctly 21st century phenomenon. Not the "restoratives" themselves, of course -- such things are as old as humankind -- but the very public advertisement of them. I wouldn't have guessed that was done in polite 19th century Southern society. So the endless emails advertising Viagra and Cialis are just a new twist on an old practice! :p

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sun April 10th, 2011, 7:09 am

I just read that myself, and even more startling was that the list included abortifactors! Knowing Margaret Mitchell, she had a copy of the Atlanta paper of that year right to hand.

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Sun April 10th, 2011, 5:18 pm

Vintage newspapers are fascinating, and the ratio of advertising to content (at least in the ones I've seen) is even more heavily weighted toward advertising than in modern newspapers. The newspapers I've seen from mid-19th-century Texas have been quite small, maybe one page printed front and back or maybe 4 pages in all. And on some of the pages, you have to work to find the news content amid the advertising. They were a bit coy in the middle of the 19th century about the language they used, but they got the message across. Kind of like that Cialis ad with the guy throwing the football through the tire swing - only a male would find that sexy!

Fashions come and go in how direct people are in speaking about sexual matters, and my first realization of this actually came while reading Gone With the Wind. In the party scene near the beginning of the novel, there's a group of old folks sitting off to one side embarrassing all the younger folks with their frank conversation. Today, it's easy to assume a steady progression in history from the more prudish to the more open, because that's what most of us have seen in the course of our lifetimes.
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Post by Ash » Mon April 11th, 2011, 2:16 am

she writes that the first two pages of the newspaper were always devoted to, among other things listed, restoratives for lost manhood. I thought that was a distinctly 21st century phenomenon
They've been selling these things since men stood upright (ETA um, pun really not intended) , no doubt. Im always amazed by how much our modern world isn't all that new. Check out newspapers in the 20s, regarding immigration. The headlines are practically verbatim with todays. Also, the media response to silent film star Fatty Arbunkle's rape trial basically stopped his career, even tho two juries found him innocent. The more things change, the more they stay the same
Last edited by Ash on Mon April 11th, 2011, 2:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Ash » Mon April 11th, 2011, 2:18 am

[quote=""Michy""]In case you haven't yet heard..... this coming week marks the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, which started the Civil War. So it's very appropriate that we're reading GWTW this month. :) [/quote]

Mmm, this might be a good time to rewatch the Ken Burns Civil War documentary. I'll probably cry in all the same spots; I sure learned a ton watching that.

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