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Living in a very fast-paced society that barrels hazardously forward at an alarming speed, sometimes it’s easy to forget that true epics and masterworks take time, and lots of it. I see this most in literature with modern fantasy writers, many of which believe that they can created another Lord of the Rings without putting in the literal years.
True, ambitious, and timeless masterworks are not the creative result of a muse’s spark of inspiration and then 6 months to a year of feverish clacking away at a keyboard. They take time and they are all the more transcendental because of the love, effort, and time that has been put into them. While Lord of the Rings is the classic go-to example, another stands just as tall and magnificent: Gone With the Wind.
The story follows southern belle Scarlet O’Hara and a taunting love triangle that progressively gets complicated due to the Civil War and later the Reconstruction of the South.
One thousand pages of romance, drama, and history, Margaret Mitchell’s only published work is a breathtaking exploration into a bygone era whilst also being an epic love story, a captivating retelling of a dramatic and significant time in American history, and a startling revelation at the swift and merciless effects of time and circumstance.
A love-letter to her hometown of Atlanta, a scene of defiance and determination in a violently changing world, the book is the fruit of a decade of research, character building, and careful sentence crafting. It is also (in my opinion) one of the best examples of character building in existence. The fiery and determined heroine in Scarlet is one that the world did not ask for, but really needed. Scarlet’s story, in which she is both villain and victim, is truly incredible. Even though one spends the majority of the book looking forward to her getting her comeuppance. As a heroine, Scarlet is not someone to aspire to be; she’s self-confident to the point of narcissistic, stubborn to the point of complete idiocy, and quite possibly the biggest perpetrator of girl-on-girl crime ever. She’s the original Mean Girl. Having said that, her story is one that is beautiful and inspiring despite her vanity and self-interest, and the end of her arc is so satisfying because it’s a mixture of comeuppance as well as enlightenment and redemption.
|Image credit: Britannica|
While it is first and foremost a love story, Gone With the Wind is also an incredible exploration into the dynamic nature of society and culture. It’s just as much a story about evolution as love, and it’s truly fascinating to see how changing governments, changing cultural attitudes, changing social ethics and class systems affect a society. The consistent wind motif that Mitchell uses to depict how easily entire world attitudes and codes of behaviour can disappear is both compelling and frightening.
I would have to say that Gone With the Wind is officially one of my favourite books ever! From beginning to end, I was completely enveloped in the world and enraptured by the characters, and at no point in the thousand plus pages did I want to put it down! A true epic, a true classic!
Author: Margaret Mitchell, 1936
Published: Macmillan & Co (London)
Longevity: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and made into a celebrated film starring Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh