July 22, 2011 In the opening of Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone With the Wind, Gerald O’Hara makes an observation his daughter Scarlett never forgets: “Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything, for t’is the only thing in this world that lasts.” He might have noted that certain pernicious myths have staying power, too. Not least among them, of course, is the notion of a noble Lost Cause that lurks behind the Confederate nostalgia of Gone With the Wind itself.
Seventy-five years after the publication of the novel, times have changed. The nostalgia persists – 250,000 copies of the novel are still sold each year – but today other literary voices challenge Mitchell’s version of plantation life. In an interview with the Irish Times, Nashville novelist Alice Randall, author of The Wind Done Gone, a parody of Gone With the Wind, explains why calling this book “America’s best-loved novel” is offensive to African Americans and why she wrote her own version of the story: “A lot of people were unaware how many African Americans perceived the reading of the book to be an injurious experience,” she told the newspaper. “I thought it was a text that should not sit upon the shelf unrebuked and unscorned, generation after generation.”
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