At last I’ve finally screwed up the nerve to disagree with Rohan Maitzen, an English professor and talented book blogger at Novel Readings. She’s read Gone with the Wind a staggering 31 times. That to my one.
Of course I’m likely playing the upstart to a wiser, more informed perspective. Or not.
If you haven’t read Gone with the Wind, here’s what you need to know to join the party.
The novel is a compelling read, a page turner, and it’s splattered with many vices. Yeah, it suffers from aesthetic limitations as a work of art.
But these aren’t the vices I’m foregrounding (thanks, Tom!) at the moment.
No, I’m talking moral vices.
As Rohan says, “It’s a morally appalling book.” It ignores the iniquity of slavery, adopts an apologetic stance toward the Confederacy, and whitewashes the history of the civil war.
Now I’m not convinced books can be immoral. I tend to agree with Wilde that they’re either well written or not.
The proper objects of moral condemnation are people and their actions.
Not fictional people, those thronging denizens of stories.
You, me, and all the rest, including Margaret Mitchell.
Perhaps she is immoral after all. Assuming the narrator is not only a literary device but is also a kind of incendiary or morally retrograde bullhorn, Mitchell might be writing (read: acting!) immorally.
Even then I’m not convinced.
But let’s assume it is a morally appalling book with a morally offensive point of view and that Mitchell is an immoral author and person to boot.
Let’s just grant all that. Or rather please allow me to grant it when I’ve mustered the energy to press on.
I’ve plumb run out of steam and am ready for bed…