Monday, August 16, 2010

A Week in August: The Margaret Mitchell Tribute

Non omnis moriar multaque pars mei vitabit Libitinam.

August 16 being the day Margaret Mitchell died, we thought a tribute was in order.  But then, between us being ourselves and a lovely lady reader giving us advice, that tribute quickly evolved into a series. So why not declare this week a Margaret Mitchell week and have a little snippet of her letters/writing outside Gone with the Wind each day, while inviting you to share your thoughts on MM and GWTW with us?

Sounds like a good enough plan, so let's proceed, shall we? Today being the first day of our tribute, and the date on which Margaret Mitchell passed away, we thought we'd simply invite you to share what Gone with the Wind means to you and the impact Margaret Mitchell's writing has had on your life so far. This thread will be open all week, so please join us and leave your comments below.

We'll go first:

Like many Windies, it's hard for me to fully express what Margaret Mitchell and  Gone with the Wind mean to me. But the most succinct answer I can give in this short space is that Margaret Mitchell was the first author to make me truly fall in love with literature. No book before or since has moved me like Gone with the Wind has. No other author has ever inspired me the way Margaret Mitchell first did, through the sheer power of her words and her characters, to want to be a writer myself one day. Everyone deserves to have a book like that in their lives--a book that inspires love for the written word--and Gone with the Wind is my book. And for that, thank you, Margaret Mitchell! 

Dear Mrs. Mitchell, 
I've often wondered what it was about your book that made me always remember it, for I've known many books that were prettier than it and certainly more innovative and, I fear, historically much more objective and kind. But somehow, I always remembered Gone with the Wind. Even during the years when I thought I had grown out of it and was immersed into so many other wonderful books, I always remembered yours and wondered what Scarlett and Rhett were doing. And there I have my answer, for no other book, however wonderful, has ever given me characters like yours. Characters so strong that I see them not only as old friends, but almost as real people. Gone with the Wind and its figures are simply part of my life now and that's all there is to it.

Well, now it's your turn! Kicking off the week-long Margaret Mitchell thread.


  1. There are a few books and movies that are touchstones, and GWTW is one for me. My mother made me read Gone with the Wind before she would take me to see the movie during one of its re-releases in the 1970s. I really wanted to see the movie, but the sight of that fat paperback book was disheartening! Fortunately, mother was wise. I spent the summer immersed in the book, and enjoyed the movie immensely when I finally saw it in August.

    The themes in Gone with the Wind, love, loss, loyalty, gumption, are so universal, and yet, the story is so specific to one special place in time. Reading Road to Tara made me appreciate the historical context, and the way Mitchell wove in the stories of her family, and the old-timers she met as a young reporter who shared their memories of Atlanta during the war. She created unforgettable characters against the backdrop of oral history, a fantastic accomplishment!

    The book's influence in my life has been rather unique. I ended up spending, what I fondly recall, as a 6 month break from reality in New Orleans. I had just broken up with my boyfriend and wanted to get out of town, so I called up a friend and said, "Let's go somewhere!" I had a trip to Austin, Texas in mind, but my friend insisted we go to New Orleans because that's where Rhett and Scarlett went on their honeymoon! (I swear I'm not making this up!) We both loved Mitchell's book and fancied ourselves to be budding writers. My friend actually met her future husband there and stayed. After 6 months, I crawled back to DC and finished nursing school. Neither of us ever wrote.

    A few years ago, my daughter and I watched the movie together. At the end I tearfully asked her, "Do you think he ever came back?" She was rather indifferent to it all. I tried to get her to read the book, but she demurred, too long. I had failed as a mother! Then I discovered the world of fanfiction. In spirit, we are all daughters of MM, Scarlett's Women! So here's to you Peggy Marsh!

  2. OK, fairly late to this but, since it is a week long theme, I am sure you don’t mind.

    So GWTW and how it changed the course of my life (or sth like that). In GWTW terms I was a late bloomer; I only read the book for the first time when I in my early twenties and I am still grateful that I never saw the movie before that. Because yes, I love Gable but Rhett in the book has so much more and I am thankful that all the characters had taken shape in my head before the movie could do that for me.

    The first time I read the book I had almost finished college and was on the brink of starting my working life. I got so engrossed in the book that I stayed up all night reading it and skipped a few important classes for it (not that I would recommend that to my own kids). After finishing it I had my first obsession with GWTW; when I started my working life shortly after I felt as empowered as Scarlett had been later in life and on top of that I started judging the young men in my circle by their Rhett-like qualities. Needless to say many of them fell short ;-)

    Some fifteen years, a husband and two kids later, I decided to reread the book. Despite getting completely hooked once more and having a hard time shaking this second obsession, I would recommend rereading the book later in life to all of you; the book has so many layers and some that I never noticed or understood before make so much more sense to me now. Scarlett’s hunger inspired ruthlessness is one of them and on the other hand, being a mom myself now, I can understand Rhett’s deep sorrow over losing his daughter. So much so that I was reduced to a blubbering mess in a very public place while I was rereading those scenes.

    As my first obsession triggered the romantic in me, this second obsession rekindled my joy in writing; something I had almost forgotten due to the demands that work and family bring. Next to escaping to all things GWTW (like this educational and often funny blog) picking up my pen again is a good way to deal with the daily stress that life can bring. So MM, thank you for being such a fabulous storyteller; your book still inspires people till this day and it is keeping iso and Bugsie off the streets ;-)


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