Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a wild ride.
Let me be candid: I'm not a huge fan of casual Southern racism no matter how charmingly couched in close-knit family ties, genteel manners, or explosively self-destructive values that leave them all ripe for exploitation. Nor am I all that fond of the damn Yankees, either, if I must be honest.
But there's something about reading about the plantations and the elitism and the romanticism of a corrupt way of life written so... longingly... that made me want to gnaw my own wrists off during the first few sections of this novel. I mean, let's face it. I'm a modern reader. I've read tons about the plights of slaves and the tasks of modern intersectionality, so reading this novel was like reading the template for the modern Conservative party.
And I mean the good parts as well as the bad. YES, family is everything, YES, the society was set up to support its members *AS LONG AS THEY ARE THE SAME CLASS*, and YES, they sure were proud, weren't they? But they were also downright cruel if you fell outside of the right virtue signaling. And you were totally F***ed if you slipped out of the same class, let alone didn't share the same skin. And being Irish? No, it's not quite the same as being black, but to hear them talk about it... YES, there was a ton of ugly. The KKK section was particularly fugly.
But this is a modern classic, no? A sprawling epic romance that covers the time before the Civil War, during the Civil War, and a few years after the Civil War. And for all its problematic (at least to me) aspects, I still fell into the wild tale of Scarlet and Rhett and both sympathized and wanted to scream at their utter selfishness. To be fair, it was a great context to and contrast with the Southern Culture even from within it. I enjoyed the drama and particularly enjoyed the positive messages for women even while some took the messages two steps back.
In other words, it's a mess of good and bad messages. Worse, it's VERY readable and thoroughly engrossing and entertaining.
I can't compare this to the movie because I've never seen it. Odd, no? One of the most beloved movies of all time and I'd rather read a novel that's over a thousand pages. Huh. Oh well. :)
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