Recasting: Gone with the Wind in American Culture

By Darden Asbury Pyron | Go to book overview

Kenneth O'Brien


Race, Romance, and the Southern Literary Tradition

It was with great reluctance that Margaret Mitchell gave her unwieldy tale of Pansy O'Hara's tribulations to Macmillan editor Harold Latham. In fact, she telegraphed him the next day requesting that he return the manuscript. He didn't, and Macmillan had its best-seller of 1936. Yet the extraordinary and unique record of popular success and acclaim accorded the novel has not been paralleled by critical esteem. Malcolm Cowley identified the elements that most bothered the critics. "Gone with the Wind," he wrote in the New Republic, "is an encyclopedia of the plantation legend." Unlike other authors, who had used only part of the legend, "Miss Mitchell repeats it as whole, with all its episodes and all its characters and all its stage settings."1 Recent surveys and analyses of twentieth-century Southern fiction have sustained Cowley's judgment by either ignoring the novel or dismissing it as mere "plantation romance," a "highly romanticized portrait of the past that seems hardly aware of its own romanticism."2

In many ways, the film has met a similar fate. Practically ignored in Gerald Mast A Short History of Movies and Robert Sklar Movie-Made America, it has been attacked by both Andrew Sarris and Richard Schickel. According to Sarris, "We can certainly do without the oneliners about happy darkies, wicked carpetbaggers, white trash, and Southern slum clearance, nightrider style. The South of Margaret Mitchell is a still-born fantasy in which blacks lack even the villainous dignity of D. W. Griffith Birth of a Nation."3 Schickel says, "Well, frankly, my dear I didn't (and don't) give a damn about the South's yokel notion that it once supported a new age of chivalry and grace." Since he thinks that the "historical evidence for that contention is slight," he could never join Mitchell in "mourning the age gone with her wind, which seemed to me far from an ill wind."4

The issue raised by such criticism has little to do with the artistic merits of either the novel or the film; rather, the works are criticized because of their thoughtless repetition of the conventionalities of the discredited and self-serving myths of the plantation South and the era of Reconstruction. But how well does Mitchell's work really fit into the literary world of the Southern romance of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the obvious frame of reference of the critics? How appropriate is it to dismiss

-153-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Recasting: Gone with the Wind in American Culture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 234

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.