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Gone With The Wind II!!!!

really, make it go away

This is Dark Cloud on Monday, May 04, 1987.

Well now, I guess we all know that a sequel to Gone with the Wind is afoot, written by some unknown potential hack perfectly matched to the Audience. What gall. Margaret Mitchell, the gorgonic racist that wrote the first piece of dreck, refused to offer a sequel, the only known display of taste in her entire life

Actually, GWTW would be a lousy book by any standards, but it suffers especially in comparison to two types of novels: those written in English and those written by human beings. Turn to any page with eyes shut, stop your finger at any point, and you have touched one of the worst sentences ever written.

Do you remember the plot? Ok, a woman who cheerfully subscribes to the use of sex to obtain her social climbing goals, is forced by the horror of civil war to lose her slaves. Aw. Now, she guns up her natural tendencies to learn how to work for a living. Aw. She finally marries a sleazy former blockade runner now a robber baron and they produce one of the ickiest, most spoiled children in fiction. Fortunately, the kid dies. The woman only married her husband because she could not, despite much effort, break up the marriage of her best friend and the wimpiest man this side of bisexuality and get him an early leave. Aw. When she finally realizes she is surrounded by people as repulsive as she, it dawns she might as well get back the one man who seemed to like her. He tells her to stick it. The novel ends with her whining.

NPR recently offered famous authors voicing their opinions on how the new book should go. None, I felt, was sufficiently satisfying.

Rhett Butler should be strung up by citizens in Atlanta and left for the crows. The reason, of course, is that after gouging out huge profits from the starving citizens of the South during the war, and now investing it in humongous ventures of dubious civic value, the man gets what is coming to him. Scarlet should end up in the whorehouse or as a companion of Jim Fiske. The slaves should be taken outside and put down as too stupid to exist even in fiction.

And that brings us to the famous rape scene. You know, the one where Scarlet says Nononono as Rhett sweeps her up the staircase and then next day is seen as existing in Nirvana. That one scene, in book and movie, has probably done more to screw up the debate about rape - and she was raped by current understanding - than even the newest emotives from men and women's groups that find such discussions amusing.

Gone with the Wind was concocted by a sexually repressed, historically ignorant, and fortunately unprolific woman passed over by the angel of talent. The rosy recreation of aristocracy was a pleasant dream during the Depression and threatening war, the sole source of its success. Picture a book of merit, written with skill and grace, bolstered by immortal characters and you have pictured everything that it is not.

Had there been no movie, it would have been deservedly consigned to history. People don't recall Rhett Butler, but Clark Gable, who is clearly not the sort Mitchell had in mind.

In short, I hope and predict the sequel will be a disaster from every point of view, and a wide embarrassment for American letters can be buried next to Little Nell.