Monday, November 29, 2010

The Quotable Rhett Butler: Loved He Not Honour More?

For our last edition of the QRB, we discussed a quote from the popular romantic ballad The Soldier's Dream and one of our readers, Iris, had a very interesting observation to make. She talked about how Mitchell uses similar - and, in some cases, identical - quotes to convey entirely different meanings in Rhett's and Ashley's speech. Both characters are aware of the unpleasant reality lying behind heroic lines, but whereas Ashley continues to use the said lines in their genuine sense - as if rejecting reality and aspiring to the higher realm of heroism and chivalry they propose - Rhett prefers to employ them sarcastically or twist their meaning to emphasize their ultimate hollowness. Scarlett herself remarks on this aspect at one point:
"'They both see the truth of this war, but Ashley is willing to die about it and Rhett isn't. I think that shows Rhett's good sense.' She paused a moment, horror struck that she could have such a thought about Ashley. 'They both see the same unpleasant truth, but Rhett likes to look it in the face and enrage people by talking about it--and Ashley can hardly bear to face it.'" 
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XII
It is a very interesting parallel, and, even if this were all there was to it, it would still make for a good compare & contrast post. But the situation is a little more complicated, for there appears to be at least one counterexample to this theory: the scene at Rough & Ready, when Rhett shows himself perfectly willing to die for a war he has no illusions about. His discourse in that scene will be our topic of discussion this week:
"'I could not love thee, Dear, so much, loved I not Honour more.' That's a pat speech, isn't it? Certainly better than anything I can think up myself, at the present moment. For I do love you, Scarlett, in spite of what I said that night on the porch last month."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XXIII
To get this out of the way first, I'll tell you that the quote Rhett uses above comes from the poem To Lucasta, Going to the Wars by Cavalier poet Richard Lovelace. Cavalier poetry generally thrived on artfulness, rhetoric artifice, polished structures and a lightness of tone that was often - but not always - paralleled by lightness of subject.  One could easily imagine Rhett Butler declaiming some of the more daring Cavalier lyrics to Scarlett's blushing benefit. But To Lucasta, Going to the Wars is, on the contrary, an example of poetry that touches on serious themes (love & honor, what can be more serious than that?): 
Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breasts, and quiet mind,
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such,
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
Loved I not honour more.
       --To Lucasta, Going to the Wars

The question is, of course, how much of it is simply jest in Rhett's use of this quote. Is he just being sarcastic? One could definitely build an argument for that. Talk of honor doesn't seem to suit Rhett Butler. This is Ashley's field and, much to Scarlett's chagrin, Ashley does imply on a few separate occasions that he values duty and honor over his feelings for her. On the contrary, Rhett wastes no chance to imbue the words "honor" and "duty" with as much cynicism and contempt as he can.

But I think that what actually happens in this scene is just a good example of Lying by Telling the Truth™.  It is a technique Rhett employs quite often. He pompously declares love to Scarlett on more than one occasion, the mock solemnity of his declarations the perfect shield that keeps her from suspecting his true feelings. Like in those cases, his appeal to a heroic cliché here disguises the fact that he is ultimately bond by honor - however obscure his other motivations - to join the army. In that sense, his situation  is very similar to that of Ashley (at least if one ignores the part where Rhett left women and children stranded between two armies to run off to the wars).

But is it also true that love is connected to chivalry in our heroes' case, in the way the poem  Rhett alluded to suggests? Is this type of quixotic honor a necessary condition for love? I would say yes to that, if Rhett loved Melanie, not Scarlett. Those of you who have been around for a while are probably familiar with the depth of my resentment for her book, but in this case I think Molly Haskell gets it right. When it comes to Rhett and Scarlett, his devotion to the values of the Old South is a sign of "a deep temperamental divide" that will affect their relationship negatively, rather than a positive element:
"In attempting to explain Rhett’s change of heart, which had a bevy of screenwriters gnashing their teeth, Sidney Howard et al. decided to translate their bafflement into Rhett’s, having him puzzle over his own motives. 'I always had a weakness for lost causes once they’re really lost,' he offers, or alternatively, 'maybe I’m just ashamed of myself.' In some ways it’s the inexplicability of the act that marks it as deeply personal, springing from some demons of the unconscious on Mitchell’s part, a prompting of the past rather than a rational plot calculation. But nothing comes out of nowhere. The scene is powerful precisely because it gives off glints of large, unseen forces, a Rosebud moment that makes sense only in retrospect. Even as he declares his love most passionately, one of Rhett’s feet is pointed homeward, toward Charleston and the clan of bluebloods that will claim him in the end—his desertion of Scarlett the first revelation of a deep temperamental divide between the couple that bodes ill for any kind of 'happy ending.'"
--from Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind revisited
I would love to hear what do you think of all this. And if my ramblings haven't bored you entirely, you can also check Molly's post on this topic. (And even if they did bore you, I promise her post is better!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rue de la Paix

This week we have a very darling (or very pastel as my co-blogger would counter) collage for you. Enjoy--and embrace the pastel shades!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 13: Suellen's Twelve Oaks Dress

While I'm not a big Suellen O'Hara fan (who really is?), I must say that I find the pink dress with ruffled flounces that she wears to the Twelve Oaks barbecue to be rather pretty. 

Those of you who also like the dress (if perhaps not the owner) are in luck, as Suellen's Twelve Oaks dress is the focus on this week's edition of Doppelganger Dresses.

As always, you can find the matching period fashion plate after the jump for your consideration. What do you think? Does it look like Suellen's dress to you? 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Poster of the Week

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh grace opposite ends of this long vertical poster (sized 14x36) from 1939.

Image from Poster information from Herb Bridges' Frankly, My Dear...

Thanksgiving à la Creole: A Holiday Edition of Southern Cookin'

While many of our American readers, including my co-blogger, are busy celebrating Thanksgiving, Bugsie reports to duty to explore a Thanksgiving dinner in the style of 19th century New Orleans. 

Prepare to start craving because it's time to kick off a new edition of the Southern Cookin' series with the help of a trusted friend, The Picayune's Creole Cook Book! For those of you who are new to the series,  this is a book first published in 1901 and written to preserve the wonders of 19th century Creole cuisine. (You can read more about the edition we're using here, in our "Honeymoon in New Orleans" edition of the series.)

Now, a real party à la Creole would have included breakfast, dinner and supper, with up to ten courses for each lavish meal. We chose to feature what the book terms a more economical dinner menu, and include, by way of introduction, some instructions for decorating the Thanksgiving table. In order to keep this a light read and because unlike iso I am a lazy blogger, we broke with our custom of writing the whole recipe for each dish and instead provided you with links, should the desire to actually try them strike you.

So, without further ado, let's see how our Victorian friends celebrated Thanksgiving!

A Thanksgiving Decoration 

"For the Thanksgiving table, nothing is more appropriate in the way of decorations than autumn leaves and berries. The woods at this season are full of beautiful trailing vines, of bronze and red: brilliant boughs, leaves, cones and berries, all of which are most appropriate on this day, suggesting, by their wild luxuriance and freedom of growth, the spirit of American liberty which gave birth to the day. If it is cold, in lieu of the usual coal fire light a blazing fire of pine knots, and you will have a glorious American illumination. 

"The favors may consist of tiny American flags, resting amid a cluster of autumn leaves and maiden-hair fern, if a formal dinner is given, and the symbol of our country may also be suggested in festoons of narrow red, white and blue streamers of ribbon, gracefully dropping from the chandeliers. "

A Thanksgiving Dinner
Radishes     Celery       Olives      Pickles 
Roast Turkey, Oyster Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce
Young Squash, Macaroni au Gratin 
Small Onions, Boiled, Sauce à la Maitre d'Hotel
Cauliflower au Vinaigrette 
Plum Pudding, Mince or Pumpkin Pie
Pineapple Sherbet
Assorted Cakes     Nuts    Raisins     Fruit
Cafe noir

Happy Thanksgiving to our readers! We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner of your own!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Honest Abe, Godey's Lady's Book and the Birth of Modern-day Thanksgiving

Sarah Josepha Hale
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we thought it would be fitting to explore the birth of the modern Thanksgiving Day holiday, as it involves two rather prominent Americans from the Gone with the Wind era--Sarah Josepha Hale, the influential editor of Godey's Lady's Book and President Abraham Lincoln, who of course needs no introduction. Those of you who are familiar with American Thanksgiving lore will perhaps already know this story, but since it's a lovely story, we hope you'll indulge us in sharing it for the benefit of all our readers. 

Anyways, let's get started. While Thanksgiving celebrations had been part of the American fabric since long before the War of Independence (thanks to that famous story about the Pilgrims and Indians), the holiday wasn't celebrated with any kind of uniformity. Some states and territories held independent Thanksgiving celebrations at different points throughout the autumn months, while others didn't recognize the holiday at all. For many years, Thanksgiving was celebrated only in New England. It was virtually unknown in other parts of the country, including the South. 

But Sarah Josepha Hale set out to change all that. Her mission was to make Thanksgiving Day a nationally recognized holiday, one that would be celebrated in every corner of the United States. A staunch believer in American unity, the cause of a national Thanksgiving resonated deeply with the patriotic Hale. And she had the perfect platform by which to begin her campaign: the venerable Godey's Lady's Book.

Hale had served as the editor of Godey's Lady's Book long before it was even known by the name that would make it famous. In 1828, she came on board as the editor of Ladies' Magazine, following literary success as a poet and novelist. In 1837, Louis Antoine Godey purchased Ladies' American Magazine (as it had been renamed) and merged it with his existing publication, Godey's Lady's Book. Under Hale's skillful leadership, Godey's Lady's Book flourished. By mid century, it had become not only a coveted resource for fashion, but a veritable force in American culture, literature, politics and etiquette.

Nowhere can this be seen more than in Hale's campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. January 1847 saw her first editorial in support of a unified Thanksgiving holiday:
"Our holidays. We have but two that we can call entirely national. The New Year is a holiday to all the world, and Christmas to all Christians— but the 'Fourth of July' and 'Thanksgiving Day' can only be enjoyed by Americans. The annual observance of Thanksgiving Day was, to be sure, mostly confined to the New England States, till within a few years. We are glad to see that this good old puritan custom is becoming popular throughout the Union. The past year saw it celebrated in twenty-one or two of the States. It was holden on the same day, November 26th, in seventeen, we believe. Would that the next Thanksgiving might be observed in all the states on the same day. Then, though the members of time same family might be too far separated to meet around one festive board, they would have the gratification of knowing, that all were enjoying the blessings of the day."
--Godey's Lady's Book, January 1847
From there, she did not let up. Year after year, editorials penned by Hale in support of a unified and nationally celebrated Thanksgiving became common place in the pages of Godey's. She favored holding the holiday on the fourth Thursday in November, harkening back to George Washington's original proclamation that declared November 26, 1789 to be a national "day of publick thanksgiving and prayer."

Each fall season, Godey's would even list running tallies of which states held Thanksgiving celebrations and on which dates these celebrations were observed. The September 1856 issue, for instance, records with delight that 14 states, including Scarlett O'Hara's home state of Georgia, had celebrated the holiday on Thursday November 29th, 1855, while six other states had held celebrations earlier that month and several more earlier that fall.  As a result of Hale's dogged advocacy, the tally lists in Godey's continued to grow as more and states began to adopt Thanksgiving celebrations.

But this wasn't quite enough for Hale. She still wanted a recognized national holiday. So she flooded government officials with letters in support of a national Thanksgiving celebration, personally reaching out to state and territories governors, missionaries, military personnel, diplomats and numerous others. She also directly appealed to the highest official in the land, writing to no less than four Presidents--Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan--before she was finally successful in persuading the fifth: Abraham Lincoln.

On September 23, 1863, Hale wrote to President Lincoln to state the case for a national Thanksgiving holiday, which is excerpted below. (You can also check out the Library of Congress to see the complete letter text and an scanned copy of the original letter.)

"Permit me, as Editress of the 'Lady's Book', to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and -- as I trust -- even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.

"You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution...

"But I find there are obstacles not possible to be overcome without legislative aid -- that each State should, by statute, make it obligatory on the Governor to appoint the last Thursday of November, annually, as Thanksgiving Day; -- or, as this way would require years to be realized, it has ocurred to me that a proclamation from the President of the United States would be the best, surest and most fitting method of National appointment."
--Letter of Sarah Josepha Hale to President Abraham Lincoln, Sept. 23, 1863
Lincoln readily agreed, recognizing that a national holiday of Thanksgiving would serve as a way to rejuvenate and rally the spirits of a nation torn asunder by the protracted Civil War. And so on Oct. 3, 1863, Sarah Josepha Hale's long-held dream was at last realized as President Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring the fourth Thursday in November to henceforth become a day of thanksgiving, giving rise to the modern Thanksgiving holiday that's been observed for close to 150 years now.   

And if you're looking for more Thanksgiving insights, be sure to check out this tremendous video from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities about Sarah Josepha Hale's role in shaping Thanksgiving traditions, including a special mention about Thanksgiving in the South. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 12: India's Twelve Oaks Dress

Ah, India Wilkes, she of pale lashless eyes and vengeful heart.  Well, it turns out that even a GWTW villain gets a historically inspired costume, albeit a rather plain one in keeping with  her aforementioned villain status.

On the other side of the jump, you'll find a period fashion plate that resembles India's matronly outfit from the Twelve Oaks barbecue--a tan dress with a prim lace cap. Check it out and let us know what you think! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rue de la Paix

Rhett and Scarlett appear to look over the ruins of Twelve Oaks in this week's collage. It does make us wonder whether Rhett ever visited the County after the war. 

Friday, November 19, 2010


A long time ago, you might remember, we threatened you all with a new sidebar page, containing the list of Gone with the Wind references we shared on Facebook. Well, it's finally here, at least the first part of it, the one we relied on as our Facebook supply so far. We covered the years from 1937-1967 and we'll cover the rest as we go. If you're not on Facebook, feel free to add any GWTW reference you stumble upon in the comments of that page

If you're on Facebook, however, we'd like to invite you to:
  1. Like our page: Everything Gone with the Wind
  2. Like Kendra's page: Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier for its sheer awesomeness and for the chance to win a Vivien Leigh postcard (only through Sunday! more details on the page's wall).
  3. Spread the love of the aforementioned pages.
We should also apologize for how slow things have been around here lately. Life's been a little busy for both of us, but we promise to do better next week!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Poster of the Week

This Spanish poster (date unknown) takes an unusual approach for GWTW advertisements: mainly, there's very little of Scarlett or Rhett to be seen, although it does look like we have a teeny-tiny version of Scarlett in her white ruffled dress along side some mysterious male figure, either Gerald from the sunset scene or perhaps Rhett himself. Anyone want to get out a microscope to confirm? 

 Image from

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Reading: Clark Gable for Photoplay Magazine

Here's something we found on the web earlier this week and thought you'd enjoy reading as well: a 1940 interview of Clark Gable where he talks about Vivien Leigh, his favorite scenes from Gone with the Wind and his approach to the Rhett Butler character.

Need more incentive? Here's a little teaser, about one of the few times when there was "fooling" on the GWTW set:
"The greatest day on the picture to me was March 31, 1939. That was two days after my wedding to Carole. [...] We were married at three-thirty that afternoon and left at five-thirty, getting home the next morning at three. [...] Finally we got to sleep, only to be awakened at nine to discover forty cameramen, three newsreel men and twenty reporters waiting out in the front yard to interview us. Under the circumstances, David [David Selznick] gave me another day off.

"But the next morning when I reported at the studio, ready for the prison sequence, I discovered Vic [Victor Fleming] had switched things on me and was prepared to do the wedding scene, only this day my bride was Vivien. David had engaged a full orchestra which was gurgling through the wedding march and whole I knew it was all a rib on me, I blew up in the first take. The stage hands all groaned, Vivien asked solicitously what was the matter with me, and Vic said, 'It’s just that Clark has always been shy of girls.' "
You can read the whole article on (a site you should definitely be following if you're Gable fans). We want to thank them for making this article available for everyone!

You can keep in touch with on Facebook.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rue de la Paix

A happy Rhett and Scarlett. Is there anything better than that? We think not! So we hope you enjoy this lovely collage of Mr. and Mrs. Butler in newlywed bliss. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 11: Scarlett's Green Velvet Curtain Dress

It's a dress known by many names: the jail dress, the green velvet dress, the curtain dress, the drapery dress. But whatever name you fancy, there's one description we can all agree on: iconic. 

After all, what other way is there to really describe the extraordinary costume Walter Plunkett created for Scarlett O'Hara's infamous visit to the jail in Gone with the Wind?

And while there's no doubt that Plunkett's dress is a one-of-a kind creation, even this legendary costume has its roots in period fashion from the 1860s. Now naturally there is no such thing as an exact lookalike dress for such a dramatic costume, but we've managed to find a period style that rather nicely resembles Scarlett's green velvet finery.    

One note of interest: our period style is actually a morning robe (or wrapper) versus a proper dress. But we think it checks a lot of "curtain dress" boxes in terms of style, as you'll soon see. Put it together with the jockey hat we mentioned previously, and we believe you've got a good approximation of the costume we all know and love from GWTW.   
So check it out after the jump! Does it look like Scarlett's dress to you?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poster of the Week

Eastern Europe is the setting for this week's edition--and we've got not one but two  1960s-era posters for you. The first is a 14x20 poster from Romania, while the latter is a 18x26 poster from the former Yugoslavia. And, yes, both are vastly superior to the Polish love fans poster we featured earlier.

Image from

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Quotable Rhett Butler: The Bugles Sang Truce

One of the things I like the most about Rhett's speech is that you often find references where you wouldn't think there were any. It really speaks of Margaret Mitchell's ability to blend together various sources, both literary and historical, and relating to the specific background of her characters. Take for example this week's quote: 
"'Shall we let the bugles sing truce?' he smiled down at her, a wide flashing smile that had impudence in it but no shame for his own actions or condemnation for hers. "
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XXXVI 
I, for one, had always assumed this was just another case of Rhett being eloquent. But a quick googling (this time done by my co-blogger, whose eye for details would make any detective envious) revealed that the expression Rhett uses was one made fashionable by a very popular Civil War song. A song that was actually mentioned in the novel before. Here's the relevant quote:
"Nightly the dark tree-lined streets resounded with dancing feet, and from parlors tinkled pianos where soprano voices blended with those of soldier guests in the pleasing melancholy of 'The Bugles Sang Truce' and 'Your Letter Came, but Came Too Late'--plaintive ballads that brought exciting tears to soft eyes which had never known the tears of real grief."
-- Gone with the Wind, Chapter VIII
"The Bugles Sang Truce" was the popular name of a song called "The Soldier's Dream," with lyrics from an early 19th century poet, Thomas Campbell.  But not only that this expression seeping into everyday speech was a sign of realism on Mitchell's part, but as I read the lyrics to the song, I was struck by how closely they resemble  another situation described in the book. In his letter to Melanie, Ashley Wilkes talks about the thoughts that preoccupy him at night, while his comrades are sleeping. Among those, the memory of the old times at Twelve Oaks, that he fears are gone forever:
"Instead, I see Twelve Oaks and remember how the moonlight slants across the white columns, and the unearthly way the magnolias look, opening under the moon, and how the climbing roses make the side porch shady even at the hottest noon. And I see Mother, sewing there, as she did when I was a little boy. And I hear the darkies coming home across the fields at dusk, tired and singing and ready for supper, and the sound of the windlass as the bucket goes down into the cool well. And there's the long view down the road to the river, across the cotton fields, and the mist rising from the bottom lands in the twilight. And that is why I'm here who have no love of death or misery or glory and no hatred for anyone."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XI
Read the lyrics to The Soldier's Dream and tell us if you don't find the atmosphere similar, though Ashley's tone is more subdued:

Our bugles sang truce--for the night-cloud had lower'd,
And the sentinel stars set their watch in the sky;
And thousands had sunk on the ground overpower'd,
The weary to sleep, and the wounded to die.

When reposing that night on my pallet of straw,
By the wolf-scaring fagot that guarded the slain,
At the dead of the night a sweet vision I saw,
And thrice ere the morning I dreamt it again.

Methought from the battle-field's dreadful array,
Far, far, I had roam'd on a desolate track;
'Twas autumn,--and sunshine arose on the way
To the home of my fathers, that welcomed me back.

I flew to the pleasant fields traversed so oft
In life's morning march, when my bosom was young,
I heard my own mountain-goats bleating aloft,
And knew the sweet strain that the corn-reapers sung.

Then pledged we the wine-cup, and fondly I swore
From my home and my weeping friends never to part;
My little one kiss'd me a thousand times o'er.
And my wife sobb'd aloud in her fullness of heart.

Stay. stay with us,--rest, thou art weary and worn;
And fain was their war-broken soldier to stay;
But sorrow return'd with the dawning of morn,
And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Margaret Mitchell!

November is the month for Gone with the Wind birthdays. Margaret Mitchell was born on this day in 1900.  Happy birthday to our favorite author! 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rue de la Paix

In honor of her birthday yesterday, this week's collage celebrates the one and only Vivien Leigh. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 10: Ellen O'Hara's Opening Scene Dress

Today's entry for Doppelganger Dresses comes to us courtesy of reader MCM84, who discovered a wonderful lookalike dress for the first costume Ellen O'Hara wears in GWTW (dark blue dress with black trim and buttons).

Check it out, along with a special bonus, after the jump. And many thanks to MCM84 for his great find and his graciousness in sharing it with us!

Happy Birthday, Vivien Leigh!

Vivien Leigh would have celebrated her 97th birthday today. Happy birthday to one of the most talented and beautiful actresses to have ever graced the silver screen.

Image from

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Poster of the Week

This Italian poster (date unknown) features a vibrantly colored depiction of Rhett and Scarlett's famous embrace at Rough and Ready. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...