Great American Read List discussion

Gone with the Wind
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Stand-Alone Novels > Nov/Dec 2019 - GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell

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message 1: by Andrew, moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Andrew (andyhuey) | 332 comments Mod
Since we had a tie in the September poll, we're making Gone with the Wind our selection for the Nov/Dec 2019 group read.

To all who voted: thank you!
To everyone: I hope you'll participate and read this selection for our book club.
For those who do: share your thoughts as you read, please!
Spoilers are allowed; add a considerate warning if your comment includes any so members have the option to skip.

A few notes on this book:
* It came in at #6 on the final Great American Read list.
* It has a 4.29 average Goodreads rating.
* It's a little over 1000 pages long, making it the third 1000+ page book we've read as a standalone read.
* It was published in 1936.
* Margaret Mitchell received the Pulitzer Prize for this book in 1937.
* It was adapted into a film in 1939.


message 2: by Andrew, moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Andrew (andyhuey) | 332 comments Mod
Just a quick note here, to bump this topic up, and as a reminder that this will be the group read for Nov/Dec.

I'm almost done with War & Peace (finally), so I will probably give this one a shot, as soon as I'm completely done with W&P. I honestly don't know much about it other the general outline. And I'll admit that I've never seen the movie. I should probably watch it at some point.


Bridget | 200 comments Mod
Andrew wrote: "Just a quick note here, to bump this topic up, and as a reminder that this will be the group read for Nov/Dec.

I'm almost done with War & Peace (finally), so I will probably give this one a shot,..."


I'm so glad your almost finished with W&P. It is definitely a beast.

I'm excited about "Gone with the Wind", I loved the movie and it will be interesting to see the differences between the two.


Bethany | 123 comments I've listened to the first two chapters so far. The amount of casual racism and romance for the confederacy is a bit off-putting.


message 5: by Andrew, moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Andrew (andyhuey) | 332 comments Mod
Bethany wrote: "I've listened to the first two chapters so far. The amount of casual racism and romance for the confederacy is a bit off-putting."

Yeah, I'm feeling that way too. I'm about halfway through chapter two right now. I'll stick with it for a bit longer, but I might give up on it.

I want to give it a fair chance, given that it's such a popular book, and it covers a period of American history that I honestly don't know enough about. I know it's got a definite bias, and I'm taking that into account, but yeah, it's kind of rough.


message 6: by Parker (new)

Parker | 57 comments I think you've got to take into account when the book was written. Casual racism was the name of the game back then (still is, in many quarters, unfortunately). The war was still fresh, the scars still visible. Certainly not excusing Mitchell's attitude, just putting it into perspective. You can still see it in the stramash over Confederate monuments (most of which were erected after the Civil War.

My husband and I used to be Civil War reenactors. We left that period because of the ancestor worship and the attitude of "The Lost Cause."


message 7: by Bridget (last edited Dec 01, 2019 08:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bridget | 200 comments Mod
I'm at about 22% Chapter 9 (or close), and so far I'm enjoying the story, especially with the development of Scarlet's character and Rhett Butler, there is a lot more character development then is seen in the movie. The racism is rough, and I do cringe a bit when I read it, but I don't think that a book could be accurately written about the Civil War from the Southern view point without this authentic use of language and ideas.


Bethany | 123 comments Parker, I'm not sure that the time period it was written is an excuse. It was written 80 years after the civil war, so the wounds were not fresh. It was solidly Jim Crow, but the language is over the top. I live in the south, so I'm aware how some down here like to dwell, but the casual contempt for other humans is hard to stomach.

Other authors, contemporary to the civil war and after, also use racist language
in their writing (Twain, for example). Mildred Taylor, a more recent author, uses that language purposefully to accurately portray the time. Neither does it with the dismissiveness of Mitchell. It also seems constant.
That said, I'll keep going with the story. It is just quite off-putting.


Bridget | 200 comments Mod
I finished this faster than I thought I would, I really enjoyed it. The writer stayed true to her characters all the way thru the story, I even wanted to go back and count all the times Scarlett said "I’ll think of it tomorrow at Tara. Tomorrow’s another day". I'm glad this story was selected.


message 10: by Andrew, moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Andrew (andyhuey) | 332 comments Mod
Glad you enjoyed it Bridget! I'm only about 10% through. I just finished the chapter with the picnic.

I've been switching back and forth between this book and The Stand. And I've been reading a bunch of lighter stuff on the weekends. So I'm not making much progress. But I'm enjoying it enough to keep reading.


Jenny H (jenny_norwich) I've read this many times, the last time quite recently, and have joined the group to see what other people think of it. I do enjoy it, but yes, the racism is a problem, because it's authorial racism as well as coming from the characters.

I acquired my copy when I was 'weeding' the school library I was in charge of and having a sale of books that hadn't been taken out for a long time or were looking tatty; there was no question of replacing it, because it had never been very popular, but if there had been I would have been very torn and I don't think I would have bought a new copy because of the racism.

Having said that, it certainly helped me to understand aspects of racism in the USA, but the author's wholehearted approval and rationalisation of it meant I couldn't in conscience put it into the hands of the few pupils in our rural, largely monocultural area who would be deeply insulted by it or the many whose attitudes it would reinforce.


Jenny H (jenny_norwich) Bethany wrote: "Parker, I'm not sure that the time period it was written is an excuse...."

And it is noticeable that the film, which came out not long after the book, toned down the racism quite a bit.


message 13: by Parker (new)

Parker | 57 comments Bethany, in the South, even 80 years after the Civil War, the wounds were still fresh, at least among some people. Witness some of the stuff that's going on today with the removal of Confederate monuments.

I do think that you've got to take into account an author's background when reading them. They bring their biases (consciously or not) to whatever they write. 1930s Atlanta was still recovering from the war's affects. Jim Crow was the rule of law. The movie DID tone it down. It had to, to get distribution in places other than the South.


message 14: by Parker (new)

Parker | 57 comments Jenny, isn't that censorship?


Jenny H (jenny_norwich) Parker wrote: "Jenny, isn't that censorship?"

No, it's book selection. Only a national library aims to have a copy of everything: every other library has to choose what to buy. And refraining from providing a book is not the same as preventing anybody from reading it.
If any pupil had asked me to get it for them, I would probably have got it on inter-library loan for them and discussed it with them.


message 16: by Parker (new)

Parker | 57 comments As an English major, I've had to read a lot of books which offended me. I feel that I'm richer for the experience, even though that experience was painful while it was occurring. Reading those books helped crystalise my own beliefs and made me think about why I believe as I do.
Of course, there's little reason to have a book in one's library that no one reads, so I don't blame you for weeding (Library Science/English major). I misunderstood what you were saying.


Bethany | 123 comments Parker, I am also an English major and have also read many books that challenged my morals and offended my sensibilities. I teach in the south, so I'm aware of the southern perception of the Civil War and the tensions that still exist today. I also teach primarily students of color, so to hear my students being casually denigrated in the now very limited time I have to read means I'll likely slow down my reading or abandon the book. I've not abandoned this novel, but I won't be done with it anytime soon.


message 18: by Parker (new)

Parker | 57 comments Where do you teach, Bethany? We could probably have a really interesting conversation about teaching in the South (I'm a Living Historian specialising in slavery history, women's history, and labour history).


Bethany | 123 comments I'm in the Carolinas, teaching middle school.


message 20: by Parker (new)

Parker | 57 comments I taught 8th grade English for my student teaching. Loved the kids, hated the amount of BS that was around, even in 1983. One of my students told me that I made English fun. A high complement I thought.

I'm outside of Charleston, but hoping to find a job and get out of here.


message 21: by Andrew, moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Andrew (andyhuey) | 332 comments Mod
It's taking me quite a long time to get through this one. I've just about hit the halfway point. Looking at the first paragraph of the next chapter, it appears I've gotten to the end of the war.


message 22: by Megan (last edited Feb 29, 2020 09:06AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Megan Parker wrote: "Jenny, isn't that censorship?"

It absolutely is.

"refraining from providing a book is not the same as preventing anybody from reading it."

By refraining to provide the book simply because you don't like it, you are, in fact, preventing others from reading it.


message 23: by Andrew, moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Andrew (andyhuey) | 332 comments Mod
Things are pretty crazy right now, but I finally finished reading Gone with the Wind. Here's a link to my review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

There's a lot I could say about it, but I tried to keep the review concise. And I don't really have anything to add to it here, but I thought I'd post, just to mark the fact that I'm finally done.


Bethany | 123 comments Y'all. This is legit the most overtly racist work of fiction I can remember reading. I just got to the part where Scarlett says she won't feel like a lady unless she doesn't do the same work as black people. She literally says that her worth only comes from feeling superior to others, specifically black people.

How is the Civil War the least racist part of this book so far?


message 25: by Andrew, moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Andrew (andyhuey) | 332 comments Mod
Yeah, the thing to keep in mind is that the whole system/culture was obviously and deeply racist. These were people who bought and sold other people. But yeah, some of the characters are more racist than others. Scarlett, in particular, has some serious issues.


message 26: by Parker (new)

Parker | 57 comments Also, you've got to remember when and where the book was written. The Civil War had only been over for 73 years, and Southern memory is very long. There are STILL southerners who absolutely HATE northerners.


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