Helynne's Reviews > Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
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Aug 10, 09

Read in March, 1967

Gone with the Wind has had such phenomenal world popularity over the decades and has been reviewed so many times, that I am sure the world is not waiting for my comments. However, as this is one of my all-time favorite books, I really feel the need to put in some of the reasons for my five-start rating. Gone with the Wind has never been included in the realm of great literature, probably because of its sheer readability and compelling narration that kept most of us as teen-agers turning pages furiously through the wee-small hours of the night. But, then again, Les Miserables, which takes place in approximately the same time period, is not considered great literature, either (certainly not anything in the realm of its contemporaries Madame Bovary or Le Rouge et le Noir), for basically the same reasons. But Victor Hugo is deservedly recognized as a great man of letters for his other works, especially his poetry. One can only wonder why Margaret Mitchell, who lived several years after the publication of her great tour de force, did not bless the rest of us with more literary works, some of which may well have leapt into a higher level of literary luminescence. Great literature standards aside, Gone with the Wind is a marvelous book because of its wonderful characters, so realistic and well developed, and the sheer breadth of its scope. We all studied in school about slavery, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the resoration period, the carpet-baggers, etc., but this story really makes that period of history come alive through the involvement of its vivid characters in these monumental events as well as their everyday activities in the 19th-century American South--cuisine, fashion, manners, taboos, etc.. From the very first line of the book, "Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom noticed it when caught in her charms as the Tarlton boys were" to the very last line, "I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day!" the story crackles with intensity, deep meaning, and superior reader appeal, and makes us care about these people and how they will fare through all the tragedy and difficulty that war, depression, and readjustment to an entirely different post-war world thurst upon them. Ashley Wilkes may not be the strongest or most admirable character in the novel, but one really feels for the type of person he is--raised in a world that had a certain kind of dreaminess and symetry--like Greek art--where he could "quietly watch life go by, never really being a part of it." Ashley realizes after his brave service in the Confederate Army that such rich, plantation life is over forever (hence, the title, which is never really explained in the book, only hinted at). Now, Ashley and many like him have been catapulted into world in which they will never really fit. Splitting rails in the windswept orchard of Tara--work for which he will never be suited--Ashley tells Scarlett that their former world of plantations and slavery is facing a kind of Gotterdammerung--a twilight of the gods--an aftermath of war wherein only the strong will survive and the weak will be winnowed out. Ashley is perceptive enough to recognize how close he is to personal destruction because his world is now gone. How Scarlett and others keep from being winnowed out is not always a admirable story, but certainly an inspirational tale of determination and survival. One always remembers Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley, Melanie, Mammy, and the hysterical Prissy, but other characters push the action along as well--Gerald O'Hara, faithful Pork, silly Aunt Pittypat, haughty Dolly Merriweather, Frank Kennedy, and Belle Watling, the good-hearted madam and as good a Confederate patriot as there ever was. I also like Archie, who was left out of the four-hour film, but is still an interesting example of survival and unyielding loyalty to a cause. Great book, great read, great entertainment. The film is wonderful, but not enough. Grab the long, printed saga, and enjoy!
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message 1: by Mary (last edited Jul 13, 2009 01:55PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary Wonderful review. I never read another book that has given me quite as rich of a reading experience as Gone with the Wind. You probably remember, I first read it in the eighth grade. I was one of those teenagers you referred to that would stay up until the the wee hours of the night reading over 100 pages at a time without even realizing. How sad that "the opinions that matter" never considered it great literature. I believe great literature is only the eye of the beholder anyway. What makes a book truly great is its tendency to make the reader go back to it read it again and again. I've already read this book twice, and I'm sure I haven't read it for the last time. For a 1000+ page book, that is saying a lot!


Mandy Please add me as a friend! Mary told me about your wonderful reviews and I couldn't agree with this one more!! This may be one of my favorite books of all time. i have read it several times and each time find some new element that I love. I have to admit that I saw the movie before reading the book, and will always wonder what it would have been like to have my first encounter be with Margaret Mitchell's Scarlett instead of Vivain Leigh. No matter, I love movie and book and your review :)

Hope all is well in Colorado and thank you for all your insightful reviews!


Helynne Hi Mandy:
Thanks for the comments on my GWTW review. I am very excited to add you as a goodreads friend! Keep in touch through goodreads as well as through Mary and best of luck with the upcoming Blessed Event!



message 4: by Catherine (new)

Catherine For those who love it, check this out…
http://www.bartertheatre.com/shows/sh...


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