Recasting: Gone with the Wind in American Culture

By Darden Asbury Pyron | Go to book overview

Gerald Wood


From The Clansman and Birth of a Nation to Gone with the Wind: The Loss of American Innocence

In the summer of 1936, thirty-one years after the publication of The Clansman his own successful Civil War romance, Thomas Dixon wrote Margaret Mitchell an enthusiastic letter of praise for Gone with the Wind. He said she had "not only written the greatest story of the South ever put down on paper, you have given the world THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL." He then expressed his pleasure at seeing Yankees lined up at bookstores to purchase what he considered to be a novel based, like his own, on authentic Southern history: "It certainly warms the cockles of my heart to see these good old damyankees flocking into the bookstores and joyfully paying $3. per copy for the record of their mean deeds."1 Although Mitchell's response was more restrained, avoiding references to sales in the North or anywhere else, she was obviously pleased: "Your letter of praise about "Gone With the Wind" was very exciting. . . . I was practically raised on your books and love them very much."2

These letters reveal the respect the novelists had for one another and suggest their mutual regard for their Southern heritage; however, their correspondence barely hints at the important role their stories have played in American cultural history, first as novels, then as movies. Dixon's novel was a best-seller, and Margaret Mitchell's of course has become internationally famous; but as films-- D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation ( 1915) and David O. Selznick Gone with the Wind ( 1939)--the stories have reached even wider audiences and generated greater controversy. Both films involved major technical achievements in their making and were significant expressions of the film styles of their eras; this essay is in part an examination of these artistic and technical achievements. But their unusual power to seize the imagination of American audiences and stimulate strong reaction suggests that there is more than aesthetic appeal behind their popularity. The larger purpose of this essay is to analyze the social appeal of the two phenomena: their common reliance on domestic melodrama that seeks to reaffirm social values about love, marriage, and the home and their integration of these domestic values with actual historical events so that our history becomes, in effect, the collective record of private American families.

Finally, while all four works reflect common themes about the domestic melodrama in American history, they differ significantly in their treatment of those themes. Mitchell's world view is far bleaker

-123-

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
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
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen
/ 234

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    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

    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.