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  1. Link to our thread on the film. Last year I identified twenty novels that I had never read to try to get around to before I kicked the bucket. This was one. I'm about 90% done. (I actually have the 60 hour Audible recording that I listen to when I do my walking.) I figured I'd go ahead and post this now since the film is in the news. I'm going to finish the book before going back to look at the film, which I haven't seen in years. This is a strange book, with Scarlett O'Hara ranking right up there with Undine Sprague as least likable protagonist in American literature. Before I made the list I had shared on Facebook my standard schtick about "where are the great love stories in American literature?" and a former student offered GWTW? Huh... I guess maybe one could make that argument if one were willing to say that it the book is the love story between Scarlett and Ashley, but I don't think she is much capable of love and I'm reluctant to call anything she felt for anyone "love." The word I keep hearing about the film is "romanticizing." I don't think the book romanticizes the South or Scarlett or whatever. But neither does it condemn it...at least not consistently. There are people (most notably Rhett but sometimes Ashley by the end who question the culture and its values, though they are usually not taken seriously. Scarlett isn't a first-person narrator but so much of the book is filtered through her perceptions (limited-omniscient) that its impossible for me to not feel *some* sympathy for her, deplorable as she is. This is because the book is so frackin' long, and it illustrates how pervasive and relentless are the attitudes that shaped and warped her. Is it the Chinese who have the proverb that the nail that sticks up gets hammered down? Not that Scarlett sticks up much, but the social control mechanisms and peer pressure are very acutely shown. The one very specific change in attitude that the book had on me was in the question of the use of the "N" word by Black people/characters. I was inundated in the 90s graduate school culture with lots of arguments about "appropriation" and could at least see the arguments for people from within a group using such words to de-fang them. But the novel shows a history of Blacks using that word about other Blacks mostly to endear themselves to Whites and thus curry the favor of whites by adapting to the roles that were assigned them by the white culture. It's hard for me to get a sense of what Mitchell was up to in the novel. It's a very strong bit of mythopoeia -- world building. And it feels organically drawn and not just meticulously researched the way some historical fiction can be. Part of that is that the *culture* is *not* "gone with the wind" -- the culture is pervasive, and designed to perpetuate itself even through defeat and reconstruction and vast global changes. What is it, finally, that makes an individual or culture so resistant to change?
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