I just finished reading this Margaret Mitchell classic. Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1937, it was made into a highly acclaimed and hugely popular, Academy award winning movie in 1939. Interestingly, it was the only novel published by Mitchell during her lifetime.
Wikipedia describes the plot summary as – “ GWTW relates the story of a rebellious Georgia Southern belle named Scarlett O’Hara and her experiences with friends, family, lovers, and enemies before, during, and after the Civil War. Using Scarlett’s life, Mitchell examined the effect of the War on the old order of the South, and the aftermath of the war on what was left of the southern planter class”
I bought this book at the book fair, a second hand hard bound copy and had started reading it sometime back. I’d heard from many people that it is one of the greatest classics of all times, a must-read for anyone who loves classic literature and so on…the movie too has been hailed as one of the best war time romatic movies ever made. I’d not seen the movie. As I said, I’d started reading the book and then as suddenly, stopped; I picked it up from my mom’s place the last time I was there, determined to read it completely this time.
And I must say, I wasn’t disappointed. I rarely am with most classics, always find something in them that fascinates me, no matter how many pages and chapters the descriptions of the triflest of things drag on; I plod on relentlessly. But GWTW is different, it held me spell-bound, turning pages one after another and racing through the chapters, it was almost un-put-down-able I can say.
The author seems to have you like a twine wound around her finger, having you absolutely involved in the happenings and thinking about them like it were happening to you. She takes you through a roller-coaster of emotions – now you hate and despise Scarlett when she does the most despicable of acts and then you sympathize and pity her state in spite of yourself. You feel the triumph in your heart when she pulls through the most tumultous of times and then you writhe in exasperation as she puts everyone else’s emotions and lives at stake to suit her whims. Whether it is the dogged way in which she pursues her futile love or the way she always puts off the most pressing of her problems to the morrow, saying “Tomorrow is another day”, you just wanna shout at her and say – “You fool, what do you think you are doing?!!” 🙂
She is one protagonist you love to hate. And yet, the author gets you to love the book!
Also to be noted are the vivid descriptions of the American civil war times and the Reconstruction thereafter and the effect it had on the civilization. One wonders – how fascinating and dreadful history can be at the same time. The ruthless aftermath of the war, the absurd hopelessness which drives people to do acts that wipe out nations and jeopardise lives of thousands of fellow-men is something that man fails to recognize even now as he repeats his old, hapless mistakes time and again. The way in which the author paints the war pictures in the faces and lives and the destinies of her book’s characters has you hooked onto the book till the last page is turned.
All in all, I think, given a chance, GWTW is one book you shouldn’t miss reading. It is one of the most vivid and thought provoking paintings of the human life – its tumultous emotions and relations, the destruction wrought by wars not just on cities and civilizations but on humans – their hearts and souls and generations of them; and how man has time and again risen from them, bolder, stronger and more tenacious then ever before – it is a tribute to the indomitable human spirit .
It definitely has a little something, that all of us can take away with us.