69. Gone with the Wind (Frankly, We Give a Damn)

15 Feb

Do Southerners prefer the book or the movie? Yes. We prefer both the book AND the movie to most of the nonsense that passes for entertainment these days. I mean, would you rather witness the catty shenanigans of the True Housewives of Atlanta or ogle Clark Gable? No contest.

I must admit that I hadn’t read Mitchell’s masterpiece until four years ago. Who has time to read a 1,000 page novel? Someone with sciatic nerve pain who’s essentially couch-ridden for a month, that’s who. While I would never choose to be immobilized, it was a great excuse for catching up on my reading. (Alas, I was still unable to make it through Wuthering Heights and Anna Karenina.)

At first glance, Gone with the Wind doesn’t seem like something I’d want to read at all. War + Romance + Melodrama = Gag. But from the first page, I was hooked. Why? Mitchell employs the Dickensian cliff-hanger better than Chuck himself. Sleep? I don’t need no stinkin’ sleep. I need to know WHAT HAPPENED NEXT! (This is the very reason I watched the first five seasons of “Lost” in about a week. And, no, I don’t consider myself obsessive. Thanks for asking.)

Doggone with the Wind
Photo by Carol Vinzant
Flickr Creative Commons

Mitchell populated her novel with cast of deeply flawed characters: Scarlett, the self-centered, calculating belle. Rhett, the unapologetic rogue. Ashley, who is hopelessly wishy-washy. And, yes, even dear, sweet Melanie, who is far too nice for her own good. Some might argue that “wishy-washy” and “too nice” aren’t character flaws. But they would be wrong.

I fear this post is heading into research paper territory, and since I’m not being graded (or paid), I’m jumping off the train before that happens. If you want to know more, you can find a copy of GWTW at your nearest library, book store, or possibly garage sale.

While some of the old ways of the South are not exactly “gone with the wind,” I know of at least two that are:

1. The notion that proper ladies shouldn’t be seen eating in public, which leads to…

2. You’re unlikely to encounter any Southerner with a 17-inch waist. Except maybe a toddler.

Do you prefer the book or the movie? Ashley or Rhett? What’s your favorite Southern novel?

12 Responses to “69. Gone with the Wind (Frankly, We Give a Damn)”

  1. ssanderson February 15, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Was practically brought up on GWTW! Like you, it was years before I’d actually read the book, but had seen the movie several times since the age of 9.
    Love your posts!

    • girloutofdixie February 16, 2011 at 10:49 am #


      At the risk of losing my Dixie cred, though I’d seen bits and pieces of the film all my life, I didn’t actually see the ENtire movie till I was in my 20s.

  2. reneemason February 16, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    I read that sucker cover to cover four times in 8th grade, and was totally going to BE Scarlett, but then Elvis moved to Germany to an Army base near my Dad’s, and I decided to marry him instead. Darn that Priscilla, she got there first! Absolutely adore your posts; they are always dead on (in a good way!).

    • girloutofdixie February 16, 2011 at 10:53 am #

      Clearly, Elvis made the wrong choice!

  3. reelingintheyears.wordpress.com February 16, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    I’ve lived in Georgia 22 years and am still hoping to meet anyone who look or talk like Leslie Howard and Vivian Leigh. May have to journey across ye olde pond…

    • girloutofdixie February 16, 2011 at 11:04 am #

      Leslie Howard didn’t even bother to TRY the accent. Though frankly, I find that preferable to actors who are coached in the Foghorn Leghorn school of Southern dialect.

  4. Stacy February 16, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    If I were grading your paper I’d give you an ‘A’! I’m sorry to say I haven’t read it yet, but because of this post I’m adding it to the list. Thanks for sharing!

    • girloutofdixie February 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

      thanks! hope you enjoy it!!

  5. southofseattle February 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    This is my FAVORITE movie of all time!!! I even have Scarlett as my Facebook pic and we look enough alike that people think it’s either me or a relative in the pic. To top it off, my family even owned a plantation back in the day and yes, we’re Irish on daddy’s side. It’s like a family diary so naturally I have 2 copies of the movie including the 50 year commemorative edition. I even had the movie poster in my dorm room back in the 70’s. Oh yeah. The BEST movie. The BEST Book. Now to get back to reading Scarlett….

    • girloutofdixie February 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

      i love that you use scarlett as your facebook pic. my friend ricky uses brad pitt as his. when he posts on my page, folks sometimes ask, “who is your gorgeous friend?”

      I’ve had a copy of “scarlett” for years, but have put off reading it because I didn’t want to be disappointed. is it any good?

  6. kn1tty cat February 28, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Like y’all, I’d seen the movie all mah li-uf, but had not read tha book… what I like about the book, though, is that I can stop reading it when Scarlett goes all nutsy when Little Bonnie Blue jumps the pony (you know what I mean)… I have read the book several times and stop reading before she does… makes it a much more enjoyable read for me! What can I say – we southern girls don’t have to read about unpleasant things, now, do we?

    • girloutofdixie March 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

      Yes! We have the liberty to make our own endings.

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