February 19th, 2012


Book Review: Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

A grand historical romance, a sweeping Civil War epic, and a horrible apologetic for the slavery South.

Gone With the Wind

Macmillan, 1936, 1037 pages

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, Margaret Mitchell's great novel of the South is one of the most popular books ever written. Within six months of its publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind had sold a million copies. To date, it has been translated into 25 languages, and more than 28 million copies have been sold.

Here are the characters that have become symbols of passion and desire: darkly handsome Rhett Butler and flirtatious Scarlett O'Hara. Behind them stand their gentler counterparts: Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton. As the lives and affairs of these absorbing characters play out against the tumult of the Civil War, Gone With the Wind reaches dramatic heights that have swept generations of fans off their feet.

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Verdict: Gone With the Wind is glorious. It's brilliant and powerful and epic. It's also epically full of race!fail and sexism!fail and history!fail, even more than most books from previous generations. If you don't like "problematic" fiction then GWTW will probably be a hard book to get through, because it's problematic on every page. But it would be daft to deny that it's a monumental work of literature, and frankly, I enjoyed the hell out of it when I wasn't wishing that Margaret Mitchell was around for me to hit her over the head with it. Yeah, this joins James Bond in my collection of guilty pleasures, but at least I can defend Gone With the Wind on literary grounds.

Gone With the Wind is on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, though I did not read it for the books1001 challenge.

My complete list of book reviews.