Mitchell, Margaret: Gone with the Wind
(researched by Katie Dodd)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
The first edition of the novel was published by The Macmillan Company in New York, on May 31, 1936.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first edition was published in grey cloth.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
519 leaves, pp. 1, 2, 3-1037, 1038, 1039
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The novel is neither edited nor introduced.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
The novel contains no illustrations.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The printing quality is excellent, very clear and no smudging. The typeface is small, but not difficult to read. Text is centered high on the page, with a larger bottom margin. At the top of every non-chapter page is printed the title of the novel in all caps and the page number in the right hand corner.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper is yellowed, and the edges are a little rough. The paper seems on the thin side, but nevertheless, the pages are in relatively good condition, and appear to be holding up well. There are small tears and blackened corners on some of the pages, but not all.
11 Description of binding(s)
The book is bound in grey cloth, by stitching. The book appears to be well-bound, no pages are loose. On the front cover, the title and author are printed in royal blue, followed by a swirly design. On the spine, the same is printed, but the design extends the length of the spine, and Macmillan is printed at the bottom.
12 Transcription of title page
12. Triple line frame border |GONE|WITH|THE|WIND|by|MARGARET MITCHELL|NEW YORK|THE MACMILLAN COMPANY|1936
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
The novelís manuscript was destroyed at the request of the author. The majority of papers in connection to the book (correspondence, clippings, legal and business documents) are divided between the Special Collections Departments of Emory University Library and the University of Georgia Library.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
The book is dedicated to "J.R.M." The first edition located in Alderman Libraryís Special Collections is from the Taylor Collection of American Bestsellers, and is inscribed "To Mrs. R.C. Taylor from Margaret Mitchell." The first edition cost $3. The dust jacket is primarily orange and white, with the title written in large, fancy lettering. At the bottom, there is a graphic of a plantation, a woman, and two men, and the authorís name is printed in white on a green bar across the bottom. The side of the jacket has a graphic of a Confederate flag along with the title, and the back lists the latest books published by the Macmillan Company.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
British edition, London, 1936 Canadian edition, Toronto, 1936 Paperback edition, 1961 Book Club edition, 1964 Deluxe edition, 1965 25th anniversary edition, 1961: hard cover is ivory and maroon, with illustration of Scarlett OíHara; slip cover is beige, with title in maroon, and small illustration of Tara below title. 40th anniversary edition, 1975: hardcover is navy blue cloth with grey binding; slipcover is red with large white letters, small illustration of Tara below title. Large print edition, 1964: hardcover is red cloth, with title stamped on spine in gold. Slipcover is white, with red, orange and yellow stripes; typography is larger than regular edition. 50th anniversary edition, 1986: hardcover is red cloth with the title stamped in a god script; slipcover is pale blue, with title in grey, and a large, oval-shaped photo of Margaret Mitchell; introduction by Tom Wicker. Motion picture edition, 1939: hardcover is red cloth, with title in black at the very top of cover; paperback cover has still from movie of Rhett and Scarlett, bears words "Motion Picture Edition." Included in this edition are a publisherís preface, compl ete film credits, and photographs from the film, complemented by corresponding lines from the text. Text falls in two columns on each page, and there are no page breaks between chapters. Holiday edition, 1939: slip cover is lavender and light blue; title appears in rectangular box angled on front cover; words "holiday edition" printed on front, back and spine. Limited edition, 1956: Davison-Paxon Edition, 1939: for sale in Davison-Paxon Department Stores only; sold in two volumes, hardcover is grey cloth with brown binding, and a small, gold Confederate flag on the front.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
There were over a hundred printings of the first edition, although there is some confusion as to the exact number. There were 60,000 copies of the first printing of the first edition.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
International Collectorís Library: 1936, 1963, 1964 Garden City Books: 1954 Pan Books: 1941, 1988, 1991 Franklin Library: 1975, 1976, 1986 Scribner: 1964, 1996 (60th anniversary edition, with preface by Pat Conroy and introduction by James A. Michener) Southern Living Gallery: 1984 Pocket Books: 1958, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1970 J.G. Ferguson: 1964 Barbara J. Rahf: 1984 Easton Press: 1968 (Collectorís edition) Warner Books: 1993 Avon Books: 1936, 1967, 1972, 1973 Ulverscroft: 1990 Limited Editions Club: 1968 Heritage Press: 1968 Permabooks: 1954 1st Edition Library: 1997 G.K. Hall: 1992 The Reprint Society: 1951
6 Last date in print?
The novel is still in print.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
As of 1993, the novel had sold over 28 million copies.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Six months after its release, in December of 1936, the novel had sold one million copies. By fall of 1941, it had sold 2,868,200 copies. In 1946, authorized foreign sales of the book were estimated to be up to 1,250,000 and American sales had reached 3,713,272. In 1956, worldwide it reached the eight million mark; by 1962 it had grown to ten million; by 1965 it was twelve million. In 1983, the number reached 16 million.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
The following advertisements were placed by Macmillan in Publishers Weekly in 1936: "Announcing a novel which epitomizes the real SouthÖGone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. Author of this rich picture of Southern life is decended from native Georgians since the revolution. Her story, dealing with the Civil War and its aftermath, Reconstruction, shows the South as it has never been depicted by in fiction." -Ad prior to the release of the novel, April 1936 "We predict that this first novel will be one of the outstanding books of our time. We are confident it will be a bestseller for months to come. For our reasons, we refer you to the book itself." -Ad announcing novel as Julyís Book of the Month, May 1936. "Advance word of mouth promotion on this novel has exceeded in volume and enthusiasm anything in our past experience. We urge every bookseller to participate in the extra profits offered by our special pre-publication offer." -Ad offering special promotion to booksellers, June 1936. Following quote from J.Donald Adams, Editor of the New York Times Book review: "4 large printings exhausted before publication; 5th and 6th being rushed. We may be out of stock for a few days, but shall strain every facility to keep you supplied."-Ad announcing enormous demand for novel after publication, July 1936.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
The year of publication, both the novel and the film inspired dolls, jewelry, manicure sets, costumes, figurines, games and even underwear (named "The Scarlett O'Hara"). Today, a website for GWTW memorabilia collectors sells books, cards, christmas ornaments, clothing, jewelry, coins, stamps, spoons, dolls, figurines, games, dress patterns, home decor, prints, mugs, musical items, plates, posters, paintings,lithos, talking frames, trinket boxes, cigarette lighters, license plates, magnets, pencils and reproductions of Scarlett and Rhett's marriage license.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Less than a month after the publication of the novel, David O. Selznick secured the film rights for $50,000. His production company, Selznick International Pictures, produced the film, and it was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn Meyer. Sidney Howard adapted the screenplay from Mitchellís novel. The film was directed by Victor Fleming and starred Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, Hattie McDaniel, Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland. The film was re-released by New Line Cinema in 1998. The film won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
French: Autant en emporte le vent. tr. Caillee, Pierre Francois. Paris: Gallimand, 1945. Portugese: E o vento levou. Rio de Janeiro: Irmas Pongelti, 1945. (four translations). Dutch: Gejaagd door de wind. Den Ilaag: Ad. M.C. Stok, 1936. (six translations). Greek: Osa pairnei o anemos. Athens: Philoi tou biblio, 1948. (three translations). Norweigen: Tatt av vinden. Olso: H. Aschehoug & Co., 1937. (three translations). Slovenian: V vrtincu. V Ljubljani: Slovenski knjizni zavod, 1955. (three translations). Korean: Param kwa hamkke sarajida. Soul : Kumsong Ch`ulp`ansa, 1972. (twelve translations). Urdu: Bad-I-havadi s. Lahaur :Afra Pablikeshanz, 1997. Chinese: Luan shih chia jen. Shang-hai : Shang-hai i wen ch`u pan she, 1996. (nineteen translations). Russian: Unesennye vetrom. Moskva : INION RAN, 1997. (eighteen translations). Vietnamese: Cuon theo chieu gio. Saigon] : Danh Van Ngoai Quoc, 1965. (six translations). Finnish: Tuulen viemaa. tr. Maijaliisa Auterinen. Helsingiss? : Otava, 1978. (six translations). German: Vom Winde verweht. tr. Martin Beheim-Schwarzbach. Hamburg: Claassen, 1937. (twenty translations). Spanish: Lo que el viento se llevo. Barcelona : Aym·, 1943. (twenty-four translations). Polish: Przeminelo z wiatrem. Warszawa: Mieczyslaw Fuksiewicz i S-ka, 1948. (eleven translations). Romanian: Pe aripile vintului. Bucuresti: Editura Univers, 1970. (two translations). Czech: Jih proti severu. Praha: Nase vojsko, 1991. (four translations). Italian: Via col vento Praha. tr. Piceni, Enrico. Milano: A. Mondadori 1938. (14 translations). Hungarian: Elfujta a szel. Budapest : ¡rk·dia, 1964. (six translations). Thai: Wiman loi. tr. MÊnmat Chawalit. Phranakhon: Khurusapha, 1964. Danish: Borte med blaesten. tr. Freiesleben, Erik. K¯benhavn: Lademann, 1975. (two translations). Japanese: Kaze to tomo ni sarinu. tr. Okubo, Yasuo. Tokyo: Mikasa Shobo, 1940. (seven translations). Yugoslavian: Prohujalo sa vihoram. tr. Anelic, Aleksandar. Maribor : Zalozba Obzorja, 1966. (three translations).
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
There is no evidence that the novel has been serialized.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Ripley, Alexandra. Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchellís Gone with the Wind. New York: Warner Books, 1991.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell was born on November 8, 1900 in Atlanta, Georgia. Her father was a lawyer, and her mother a suffragist. After grammar school, Margaret attended Washington Seminary, and then Smith College. In her freshman year, Margaret suffered two devastating losses ? her mother died of pneumonia, and her fiancé, Lieutenant Clifford Henry, was killed in combat. Margaret left Smith after that, and soon had a pair of best friends competing for her affections. She married Red Upshaw on September 2, 1922. The loser, soft-spoken John Marsh, was the best man. Red drank and abused Margaret, and they divorced in 1924. Margaret turned to John, a successful copy editor who convinced her to try journalism. The Atlanta Journal Magazine hired her and she became the leading feature writer. She and John were married on July 4, 1925. They had no children. In 1926, Margaret left the Journal to write a novel about Atlanta during the Civil War. The theme of Pansy O'Hara's story was survival. Margaret based the significant male characters ? Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler ? on the important men of her past, Clifford Henry and Red Upshaw. The heroine was a mix of Margaret and her grandmother (Edwards, 132-3). In 1935, Harold Latham, vice-president of The Macmillan Company, traveled to Atlanta on a scouting tour, and having heard about Margaret, obtained her manuscript and offered her a contract. At Margaret's insistence, John served as her primary editor. Pansy became Scarlett, Fontenoy Hall became Tara, and the title became Gone With the Wind, alluding to an Ernest Dowson poem. By January 1936, it was ready. In April, the Book-of-the-Month Club announced that Gone With the Wind would be its selection for July, and the trade release date was changed to June 30 (though the first edition of the novel bears the date May, 1936). Macmillan's Annie Laurie Williams became Margaret's agent. Gone With the Wind was an enormous success even before it hit the shelves. At age 36, Margaret was a national celebrity, and in 1937, she won the Pulitzer Prize. But Margaret was not fond of fame. She spent the next twelve years dealing with persistent fan mail and lawsuits. She fought against pirated translations, and greedy authors who insisted that Margaret had plagiarized their work. Many feel she spearheaded important copyright legislation (Farr, 175-7). Margaret had just begun to think about writing a second novel when, on August 11, 1949, she was hit by a car in Atlanta. Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell Marsh died on August 16. In her will, Margaret had specified that all the notes, manuscripts and correspondence connected to the novel be destroyed, and that no sequel be written. John obeyed her wishes, burning everything but a few pages which could prove her authorship. They are in a safe deposit box in the Citizens and Southern National Bank in Atlanta. Alexandra Ripley's Scarlett, an unauthorized sequel to Gone With the Wind caused tremendous controversy. Many readers felt that the genius of Margaret's novel, like its author, could never be duplicated. Sources: Edwards, Anne. The Road to Tara: The Life of Margaret Mitchell. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1983. Farr, Finis. Margaret Mitchell of Atlanta: The Author of Gone With the Wind. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1965.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The initial reception of Gone With the Wind was overwhelmingly favorable. Time called it an "imposing first novel," and J.D. Adams of the New York Times said it was the "best Civil War novel ever written," adding that "in narrative power, in sheer readability [ it is] surpassed by nothing in American fiction." Throughout the reviews, Mitchell was praised most often for the power of her narrative, and her ability to make a 1,000 page novel so utterly absorbing. Said Stephen Vincent Benet, "The tale of Scarlett's adventures and her struggles makes as readable, full-bodied and consistent a historical novel as we have had in some time?in spite of length, the book moves swiftly and smoothly" ("Georgia Marches Through," Saturday Review of Literature, July 1936). Her characterization also was highly praised; many reviewers commented on the imaginative creation of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Responding to comparisons made between Scarlett and the character of Becky in Thackeray's Vanity Fair, Adams remarked that Scarlett "lives in her own right completely, and will, I suspect, for a long time to come." Mitchell did have her share of critics, though. The New Republic's initial review of the novel, in July 1936, called it "one of those 1,000 page novels, competent but neither very good or very sound." Evelyn Scott wrote in Nation, "Mitchell?often gives a shallow effect?[the] narrative is sprinkled with clichés and verbal ineptitude's." But she sees potential in the work, adding, "If Miss Mitchell is able later to master, later, the wide significances implicit in her own material?she may yet demonstrate mature humanity" ("War Between the States, Nation, July 4, 1936). Perhaps Mitchell's most notorious critic was Bernard DeVoto, who wrote a number of criticisms of the novel, and observed that Gone With the Wind was "important as a phenomenon but hardly as a novel" ("Fiction fights the Civil War," Saturday Review of Literature, January 1938). But while nearly every reviewer noted that the lack of artistry in the novel might prevent it from accurately being called literature, most thought Mitchell more than made up for that flaw. Over and over, it is remarked that the novel is not a "great" one, but captivating all the same. Benet summed this thought up best when he said, "It is a good novel rather than a great one." Adams elaborated on this point: "Although this is not a great novel, not one with any profound reading of life, it is nevertheless a book of uncommon quality, a superb piece of story-telling which nobody who finds pleasure in the art of fiction can afford to neglect." Malcolm Cowley admired the fearless way Mitchell attacked her first novel: "She writes with a splendid recklessness?afraid of no comparison and no emotions. I would never, never say that she has written a great novel, but in the midst of triteness and sentimentality, her book has a single-minded courage that suggests the great novelists of the past" ("Going with the Wind" New Republic, Sept. 1936). But it was the reviewer for Time who made one of the most interesting observations about the effect a lack of art had on the reader. He compared the novel to the heroine ? flawed but lovable: "So carefully does Mitchell build up her central character?that artistic lapses seem scarcely more consequential than Scarlett's many falls from grace." Adams, J.D. "A Fine Novel of the Civil War." New York Times. July 5, 1936. Alexander, Holmes. "Holmes Alexander to the Defense: Gone With the Wind." Saturday Review of Literature. Jan. 1938. America. 55:382. July 25, 1936. Atlantic. Aug. 1936. Benet, Stephen Vincent. "Georgia Marches Tough." Saturday Review of Literature. 14:1. July 4, 1936. Bishop, John Peale. "War and No Peace." New Republic. 87:301. July 15, 1936. Brickell, Herschel. New York Post. June 30, 1936. Booklist. 32:320. July 1936. Books. October 25, 1936. Boston Transcript. June 27, 1936. Canadian Bookman. 18:11. Oct. 1936. Canadian Forum. 16:29. Sept. 1936. Catholic World. 144:120. Oct. 1936. Christian Century. 53:1017. July 22, 1936. Christian Science Monitor. July 1, 1936. Churchman. 150:18. September 1, 1936. Cleveland Open Shelf. July 1936. Commager, H.M. New York Herald Tribune. July 5, 1936. Commonweal. 24:430. August 28, 1936. Cowley, Malcolm. "Going With the Wind." New Republic. 88:161. September 16, 1936. Current History. 44:7. Aug. 1936. DeVoto, Bernard. "Fiction Fights the Civil War." Saturday Review of Literature. Jan. 1938. Edwards, Harry Stillwell. Atlanta Journal. June 14, 1936. Granberry, Edwin. New York Sun. June 30, 1936. Jackson, Joseph Henry. San Francisco Chronicle. May 1936. Kronenberger, Louis. New Yorker. July 1936. Ladies Home Journal. 53:54. July 1936. Library Journal. 61:864. November 15, 1936. Literary Digest. 122:22. July 25, 1936. Manchester Guardian. October 13, 1936. New Statesman and Nation. 12:474. October 3, 1936. Newsweek. 8:36. July 4, 1936. Pratt. p. 40. Autumn 1936. Publisher's Weekly. April 1936. Publisher's Weekly. 129:2513. June 27, 1936. Review of Reviews. 94:8. Aug. 1936. Saturday Review of Literature. 16: 1. May 8, 1937. Schnell, Jonathan. Forum. 96:iv. Aug. 1936. Scott, Evelyn. Nation. 143:19. July 4, 1936. Social Studies. 28:42. Jan. 1937. Springfield Republican. July 5, 1936. Time. 28:62. July 6, 1936. Time. 29:14. January 4, 1937. Times Literary Supplement (London). p.787. October 3, 1936. Wilson Bulletin for Librarians. 11:646. June 1937. Yale Review. 26:vi. Autumn 1936. Sources: Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature Book Review Digest 20th Century Literary Criticism Edwards, Anne. The Road to Tara. Farr, Finis. Margaret Mitchell of Atlanta.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The initial reception of Gone With the Wind was overwhelmingly favorable. Time called it an "imposing first novel," and J.D. Adams of the New York Times said it was the "best Civil War novel ever written," adding that "in narrative power, in sheer readability [ it is] surpassed by nothing in American fiction." Throughout the reviews, Mitchell was praised most often for the power of her narrative, and her ability to make a 1,000 page novel so utterly absorbing. Said Stephen Vincent Benet, "The tale of Scarlett's adventures and her struggles makes as readable, full-bodied and consistent a historical novel as we have had in some time?in spite of length, the book moves swiftly and smoothly" ("Georgia Marches Through," Saturday Review of Literature, July 1936). Her characterization also was highly praised; many reviewers commented on the imaginative creation of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Responding to comparisons made between Scarlett and the character of Becky in Thackeray's Vanity Fair, Adams remarked that Scarlett "lives in her own right completely, and will, I suspect, for a long time to come." Mitchell did have her share of critics, though. The New Republic's initial review of the novel, in July 1936, called it "one of those 1,000 page novels, competent but neither very good or very sound." Evelyn Scott wrote in Nation, "Mitchell?often gives a shallow effect?[the] narrative is sprinkled with clichés and verbal ineptitude's." But she sees potential in the work, adding, "If Miss Mitchell is able later to master, later, the wide significances implicit in her own material?she may yet demonstrate mature humanity" ("War Between the States, Nation, July 4, 1936). Perhaps Mitchell's most notorious critic was Bernard DeVoto, who wrote a number of criticisms of the novel, and observed that Gone With the Wind was "important as a phenomenon but hardly as a novel" ("Fiction fights the Civil War," Saturday Review of Literature, January 1938). But while nearly every reviewer noted that the lack of artistry in the novel might prevent it from accurately being called literature, most thought Mitchell more than made up for that flaw. Over and over, it is remarked that the novel is not a "great" one, but captivating all the same. Benet summed this thought up best when he said, "It is a good novel rather than a great one." Adams elaborated on this point: "Although this is not a great novel, not one with any profound reading of life, it is nevertheless a book of uncommon quality, a superb piece of story-telling which nobody who finds pleasure in the art of fiction can afford to neglect." Malcolm Cowley admired the fearless way Mitchell attacked her first novel: "She writes with a splendid recklessness?afraid of no comparison and no emotions. I would never, never say that she has written a great novel, but in the midst of triteness and sentimentality, her book has a single-minded courage that suggests the great novelists of the past" ("Going with the Wind" New Republic, Sept. 1936). But it was the reviewer for Time who made one of the most interesting observations about the effect a lack of art had on the reader. He compared the novel to the heroine ? flawed but lovable: "So carefully does Mitchell build up her central character?that artistic lapses seem scarcely more consequential than Scarlett's many falls from grace." Adams, J.D. "A Fine Novel of the Civil War." New York Times. July 5, 1936. Alexander, Holmes. "Holmes Alexander to the Defense: Gone With the Wind." Saturday Review of Literature. Jan. 1938. America. 55:382. July 25, 1936. Atlantic. Aug. 1936. Benet, Stephen Vincent. "Georgia Marches Tough." Saturday Review of Literature. 14:1. July 4, 1936. Bishop, John Peale. "War and No Peace." New Republic. 87:301. July 15, 1936. Brickell, Herschel. New York Post. June 30, 1936. Booklist. 32:320. July 1936. Books. October 25, 1936. Boston Transcript. June 27, 1936. Canadian Bookman. 18:11. Oct. 1936. Canadian Forum. 16:29. Sept. 1936. Catholic World. 144:120. Oct. 1936. Christian Century. 53:1017. July 22, 1936. Christian Science Monitor. July 1, 1936. Churchman. 150:18. September 1, 1936. Cleveland Open Shelf. July 1936. Commager, H.M. New York Herald Tribune. July 5, 1936. Commonweal. 24:430. August 28, 1936. Cowley, Malcolm. "Going With the Wind." New Republic. 88:161. September 16, 1936. Current History. 44:7. Aug. 1936. DeVoto, Bernard. "Fiction Fights the Civil War." Saturday Review of Literature. Jan. 1938. Edwards, Harry Stillwell. Atlanta Journal. June 14, 1936. Granberry, Edwin. New York Sun. June 30, 1936. Jackson, Joseph Henry. San Francisco Chronicle. May 1936. Kronenberger, Louis. New Yorker. July 1936. Ladies Home Journal. 53:54. July 1936. Library Journal. 61:864. November 15, 1936. Literary Digest. 122:22. July 25, 1936. Manchester Guardian. October 13, 1936. New Statesman and Nation. 12:474. October 3, 1936. Newsweek. 8:36. July 4, 1936. Pratt. p. 40. Autumn 1936. Publisher's Weekly. April 1936. Publisher's Weekly. 129:2513. June 27, 1936. Review of Reviews. 94:8. Aug. 1936. Saturday Review of Literature. 16: 1. May 8, 1937. Schnell, Jonathan. Forum. 96:iv. Aug. 1936. Scott, Evelyn. Nation. 143:19. July 4, 1936. Social Studies. 28:42. Jan. 1937. Springfield Republican. July 5, 1936. Time. 28:62. July 6, 1936. Time. 29:14. January 4, 1937. Times Literary Supplement (London). p.787. October 3, 1936. Wilson Bulletin for Librarians. 11:646. June 1937. Yale Review. 26:vi. Autumn 1936. Sources: Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature Book Review Digest 20th Century Literary Criticism Edwards, Anne. The Road to Tara. Farr, Finis. Margaret Mitchell of Atlanta.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
At the time it was published, the success of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind was unparalleled. In 1936, it was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for 40 weeks, and remained on the list for 40 more. It held the #1 spot on the Publisher's Weekly list for 44 weeks, and held a lower spot for 24 more (Justice, 35). In the first six months of publication, the novel sold one million copies (Edwards, 247). By 1993, it had sold more than 28 million copies ? in hardcover, it has outsold every book but the Bible. Not surprisingly Gone With the Wind has been called the "most popular novel in American fiction" (Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, 315). At the time of Gone With the Wind's publication, America was in the midst of recovering from the Great Depression. Thus, as critic Charles Rowan Beye writes, "It is not hard to see how it spoke to an American audience of that period." Clearly, Gone With the Wind, which deals with the economic and social struggles the South faced during the Civil War and Reconstruction, became enormously popular because it gave the audience something to identify with. Not only did it depict a heroine who survived against tremendous odds?and thus functions as an example of what determination and strength can accomplish?but its historical details, intricate plot, captivating characters and timeless love story grant the novel elements of escapism, as well. In balancing both literary and entertaining elements, Mitchell reached out not only to her contemporary readers, but to many readers of the future, as well. Mitchell herself summed up the theme of the novel in one word, "survival" (Edwards, 132). It begins with the introduction of Scarlett O'Hara, a 16-year-old girl with very few cares, save her unrequited love for childhood friend Ashley Wilkes. Mitchell describes her thoughts on the night before a County barbecue: "She lay in the silvery shadows with courage rising and made the plans that a sixteen-year-old makes when life has been so pleasant that defeat is an impossibility and a pretty dress and a clear complexion are weapons to vanquish fate" (Mitchell, 76). But the war soon begins, and the South feels its effects dramatically. Though Scarlett goes to Atlanta for a short time, she is soon forced to flee when the Union army invades the city. With the help of a stolen carriage and a weak horse, Scarlett, her son, her sister-in-law Melanie and Melanie's newborn baby return to Tara, the O'Hara family's plantation. They find that it is one of the few plantations in the County still standing, that Mrs. O'Hara has died and Mr. O'Hara is crazed with grief, and that the Yankees have stolen all the food, crops, livestock and money. For the next six or seven years, Scarlett struggles to hold onto Tara, and to have enough money again to live the life she dreamed of as a 16-year-old child. Scarlett's attachment to Tara establishes a major theme of ties to the land. Even from the beginning, Scarlett seems to have inherited her father's pride in the beautiful plantation, evidenced by his comment that land is "the only thing in this world that lasts?the only thing worth working for, fighting for, dying for", even if she does not fully understand why (Mitchell, 39). On her first visit to Atlanta, she feels extremely displaced: "Moreover, now that she was away from Tara, she missed it dreadfully, missed the read fields and the springing green cotton and the sweet twilight silences. For the first time, she realized dimly what Gerald meant when he had said that the love of the land was in her blood" (Mitchell, 154). But it is not until the O'Haras face extreme poverty and starvation that Scarlett truly understands the meaning of land. It is a property, something tangible of which one can take ownership. After the death of her mother, she tells Tara, "I can't leave you?You're all I've got left" (Mitchell, 456). For Scarlett, Tara represents hope for the future. As long as it survives, her family will always have something: "When she looked at Tara she could understand, in part, why wars were fought?these were the only things worth fighting for, the red earth which was theirs and would be their sons', the red earth which would bear cotton for their sons and their sons' sons" (Mitchell, 428). When the rest of the world is falling apart, Tara remains, as a reminder of what once was and what could be again. Even when times are better, Tara is a comfort because it serves as a reminder of what Scarlett has survived. Later in the book, Scarlett returns to Tara to recover from a miscarriage, and Rhett comments, "Yes, Tara will do her good?Sometimes I think she's like the giant Antaeus who became stronger each time he touched Mother Earth. It doesn't do for Scarlett to stay away too long from the patch of red mud she loves. The sight of cotton growing will do her more good than all of Dr. Meade's tonics" (Mitchell, 957). But while Tara provides Scarlett with emotional stability and hope, it cannot magically solve all her problems. It is only through intelligence and bitter determination that Scarlett triumphs?and that determination often leads her to morally questionable behavior. Mitchell emphasizes quite clearly in the novel the distinction between honorable action and practical action. Ashley clings to his moral scruples, speaking often of "honor," but his own survival hinges on Scarlett's willingness to compromise her own morals ? whether by offering to become Rhett's mistress, eloping with her sister's beau or killing a Yankee soldier. In the height of her hunger she promises, "If I have to steal or kill?as God as my witness, I'm never going to be hungry again"(Mitchell, 421). At Gerald's funeral, Grandma Fontaine explains to Scarlett the "secret of survival," and how it often hinges on selfish behavior: "When trouble comes, we bow to the inevitable without any mouthing, and we work and we smile and we bide our time. And we play along with lesser folks and we take what we can get from them. And when we're strong enough, we kick the folks whose necks we've climbed over (Mitchell, 710). Despite the hardships that befall her, and the dark paths they lead her down, Scarlett retains an almost pathetic optimism. At nearly every tragic moment in the novel, she pushes negative thoughts out of her mind, saying "I'll think of it tomorrow." These elements that compose Scarlett's strength ? determination, optimism and ties to the land ? are brought together at the conclusion of the novel. After Rhett ? the one person who has supported her actions throughout the novel ? leaves her, it appears that all hope is lost. But not for the reticent Scarlett, who exclaims, "I'll think of it all tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day" (Mitchell, 1024). In a biography of Mitchell, Earl Bargainnier describes the inspiring resilience of the novel's heroine and her beloved plantation: "Melanie may die, Ashley may be a lost soul, Rhett may leave, but Scarlett and Tara endure" (Dictionary of Literary Biography, 225). It is understandable then, that readers during the Great Depression likely identified with Scarlett O'Hara, and saw her as a role model. As Anne Edwards comments, "the devastating effects of the Depression were comparable to the Civil War ? a fact that made Gone With the Wind seem uncannily contemporary" (Edwards, 213). Beginning with the stock market crash on Black Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929, the Great Depression left more than half of all Americans living in poverty. In the worst year of the Depression, 1932, the Gross National Product fell 13.4 percent, and unemployment was 23.6 percent. Many of the farmers lost their land during that time, and Mitchell's tale seems to understand the magnitude of that kind of loss, and the kinds of actions it can drive one to take, and legitimizes those actions. In his essay entitled, "Novelists of the Thirties," Edward Wagenknect remarks on the connection between the Great Depression and the popularity of Mitchell's novel: "Many persons found themselves fighting as bitter a battle for survival as Scarlett O'Hara herself?It was exhilarating to watch Scarlett fight and win, even if she did not always employ the most genteel means, at least she did not lay down and die" (TCLC, 325). Witnessing Scarlett work through her suffering and pain, and still emerge a woman full of hope, it is easy to think that one's own hardships can be overcome with the same kind of perseverance. Wagenknect explains another reason why Depression-era readers were drawn to Gone With the Wind--it provided an refuge from their unhappy lives: "The need to escape from an America which seemed, during the years of the Great Depression, inexplicably to have failed to fulfill all its golden promises must, in the nature of the case, have encouraged many readers to retreat to the past" (TCLC, 325). Thus, Mitchell's novel, with its surprisingly factually accurate ? though admittedly regionally biased ? account of the Civil War, provided a safe haven for readers to escape to and enjoy. The telling of the novel from the historical Southern point of view, as well as the detailed descriptions of Southern culture also seemed to captivate readers. Critics remarked that she well understood "her period and her people" (TCLC, 313), and called the novel an "encyclopedia of the plantation legend" (TCLC, 315). For some readers, delving into the past was a way of momentarily forgetting the present. Mitchell's novel is not the only Depression-era work that provided a sympathetic account of survival. In 1931 and 1932, the worst years of the Depression, Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth topped the bestseller list with its tale of struggling Chinese farmers. But Gone With the Wind continued to sell millions of copies long after the Depression ended. Yet, Buck's novel has not retained its popularity the way Mitchell's has, nor was it as popular even in the height of its acclaim. Perhaps this is because?despite its artistic merit?The Good Earth fails as an escapist novel. Mitchell's novel, on the other hand, has not the literary polish of Buck's, but is praised for its "extraordinary blending of romantic and realistic treatment" (Book Review Digest, 683). Besides its inspiring tale of survival, it has a compelling love story, detailed historical scenes, creative plot twists and intriguing characters. These characteristics cannot be overlooked in an assessment of the factors in the novel's success. Many critics have not hesitated to conclude that, simply put, Gone With the Wind is a good story, and sometimes that's all that readers want. Belle Rosenbaum says that Mitchell's novel is "a tale well told, for the sake of its telling, by a teller who loves the tale and the art of telling it" (TCLC, 317). In a heated defense of the novel, Holmes Alexander argues, "Mitchell is a gifted story teller. She can create characters to set tongues wagging, she can swing a plot and make it crackle?" (TCLC, 317). Amongst all the theories about Gone With the Wind as a novel about racism, the collapse of a society, or sexual power struggles, it is easy to overlook the fact that Mitchell's novel, above all else, is an unforgettable story about some of the most memorable characters in American fiction, and their ups and downs. Similarly, in her biography on Mitchell, Edwards wonders if Gone With the Windhas retained its popularity because it "has something for everyone" (Edwards, 246). There is war, politics, history, fashion, and culture. But perhaps most importantly, there is romance. On the date of publication, J.D. Adams of The New York Times called Gone With the Wind "an uncommonly absorbing love story." Indeed, the love triangle of Scarlett, Ashley and Rhett involves nearly every kind of love imaginable?unrequited, forbidden, platonic, passionate, physical and true. Scarlett and Ashley have a love that is doomed from the start. Before Scarlett can confess her love to her dear friend, he is betrothed to Melanie Hamilton. After his marriage, he reveals the extent of his feelings for Scarlett, but his honor prevents him from ever acting on it, and he and Scarlett suffer at length from their unconsummated love and the guilt it causes them. When Rhett Butler?now the prototype for the roguish, romantic hero?enters Scarlett's life, the situation becomes even more complex. He becomes her friend and confidante, and, though he makes it clear that he is physically attracted to her, we are not aware of how much he loves her until the end. What is clear, however, is that he and Scarlett are uniquely suited to one another. While Scarlett and Ashley "were always like two people talking to each other in different languages," Scarlett and Rhett think and act in the manner that best suits them (Mitchell, 520). Rhett tells her at one point, "I love you, Scarlett, because we are so much alike, renegades, both of us, dear, and selfish rascals" (Mitchell, 383). Scarlett, without realizing she is in love with him, never fails to notice how comfortable she feels with Rhett, a feeling she has never experienced before: "Sometimes she thought that all the people she had ever known were strangers except Rhett" (Mitchell, 817). Mitchell keeps these two people apart in various ways, while simultaneously hinting more and more at how perfect they are for one another, until it is obvious that they are soulmates. Rhett comes to this realization before Scarlett, and by the time she does, it is too late. Rhett, devastated by her love for Ashley, says, "we?could have been perfectly happy if you had ever given us half a chance, for we are so much alike. We could have been happy, for I loved you and I know you, Scarlett, down to your bones in a way that Ashley could never know you. And he would despise you if he did know?"(Mitchell, 928). Though so much of her novel is unique in plot and character, when it comes to romance, Mitchell plays on tried and true conventions which consistently hook readers. They keep reading through hundreds of pages of sexual tension, to find out whether Rhett and Scarlett will ever end up together and happy?only to find that Mitchell leaves it up to the readers to decide. In a rather disparaging critique of the novel, Bernard DeVoto dismisses it as "wish-fulfillment literature" (TCLC, 327). He is most likely quite accurate in his assessment of the novel's popularity; it was published in a time when most Americans' wishes and dreams went largely unfulfilled. To them, the novel was not only inspiring, but a means of escaping from the hardships of their lives, and delving into a narrative driven by history and romance. It is to Mitchell's credit, however, that she managed to write a novel that has proven to be timeless. Her story of war, survival and love may have spoken particularly to 1930s America, but her narrative skill ensured that it would reach out to future generations as well. Works Cited (*denotes works reproduced in Twentieth Century Literary Criticism and cited as such) Adams, J.D. "A Fine Novel of the Civil War." New York Times. July 5, 1936. *Alexander, Holmes. "Holmes Alexander to the Defense: Gone With the Wind." Saturday Review of Literature. January, 1938. Bargainnier, Earl F. "Margaret Mitchell." Dictionary of Literary Biography. Volume 9. *Benet, Stephen Vincent. "Georgia Marches Tough." Saturday Review of Literature. July 4, 1936. Beye, Charles Rowan. "Gone With the Wind and Good Riddance." Southwest Review. 1993. *Corbett, Edward. "Gone With the Wind Revisited." America. 1987. *Cowley, Malcolm. "Going With the Wind." New Republic. September, 1936. *DeVoto, Bernard. "Fiction Fights the Civil War." Saturday Review of Literature. January, 1938. Edwards, Anne. Road to Tara: The Life of Margaret Mitchell. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1983. Justice. Bestseller Index: All Books, Publishers Weekly and the New York Times Through 1990. Mitchell, Margaret. Gone With the Wind. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1993. *Rosenbaum, Belle. "Why do they read it?" Scribner's Magazine. August, 1937. *Wagenknect, Edward. "Novelists of the Thirties." Cavalcade of the American Novel. 1952.
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