276 of 293 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2000
I've read GWTW many times -once you get going you can't stop! I once gave a copy to a friend to read -she said it was 'too old fashioned' oh well her loss. I'm glad I'm in the company of true 'Windies' so I thought I'd share with you some interesting facts about the book: -Scarlett was originally named Pansy
-Scarlett was partly based on Mitchell herself and her grandmother
-Rhett was based on Mitchell's first husband Red Upshaw
-the initials JRM in her dedication refer to her second husband John Reginald Marsh
-Margaret Mitchell maintained the only character taken from real life was Prissy the maid
-When asked who she'd like to be in the movie version, Mitchell said 'Prissy'
-Like a detective novelist, Mitchell wrote the last chapter first and the first chapter last
-GWTW is the only book to sell more copies than the bible
-Mitchell nearly went blind just proofreading the manuscript!
-Mitchell scrupously researched every detail for GWTW, even going to the town register to ensure there was no Rhett Butler or Scarlett O'Hara alive during the Civil War
-The novel took ten years to complete, most of it was written in three
-For style, she endeavoured to make her prose so that a five-year old could read it
-If she were ever to write a sequel, it would be called 'Back With the Breeze' On that note,please avoid the Ripley penned sequel 'Scarlett', it is atrocious.
-Gone with the Wind is my favourite book of all time, and yours too, I hope. Enjoy!
615 of 662 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2001
I'm a literary snob, I'll admit it. I've read all the classics, and I even know some Literary Theory. Gone With the Wind? Pul-lease, racist, sexist, revanchist trash, made popular by all the young woman dreaming of being Scarlett and having both their Rhett and Ashley. Cheerleader fare. Escapist. WRONG!
Gone with the Wind is an American War & Peace. This is serious literature, which won the Pulitzer prize, no less. Most people don't see past the epic plot (which isn't as cut and dried as you may think) or the love story, but this is no less than a successfull attempt to reclaim a discarded culture. It is not about crinoline and lace, it it about the Apocalypse and how losers of the counter-revolution must learn to live in a place where all their politics, personal or civil, are demolished. Scarlett O'Hara is popular because she is an American, driven, materialistic, sentimental and utterly ruthless. Rhett Bulter is the tragic character of this book; the way of life and ideals he disdained are killing him, and he suffers like no one else in this post-apocalyptic landscape. His departure at the end is an act of contrition as much as a romantic failure; he had tried to recreate the materialism of the ante-bellum world, but negeclected the spirituality (such as it is) of men like Ashley Wilkes. Both men, the dreamer and the realist end up alone in a very sterile place. This book is proto-feminist as well. Scarlett survives, even as everything around her dies, but in the end, she too is alone.
Don't dumb this masterpiece down. The movie fails to capture even a tenth of the depth here. And that awful sequel! Caused by the mistake that this book is some kind of romance novel. This is Art, and you can't stick a new ending on it, any more than you can a great painting or musical composition.
167 of 178 people found the following review helpful
I would give this 10 stars if I could. I haven't read this since I was a young girl in the early 70's and should never have waited so long to read it again. The characters were exceptionally well drawn, the dialogue was brilliant, particularly between Rhett (SIGH!) and Scarlett. I swear there was sparks flying off the pages. I am going to miss the people I will have to put behind me now that the book has come to an end, Rhett (SIGH), Scarlett, Mammy, Prissy and Aunt Pitty Pat (LOL).
The author's use of prose was beautiful, all the scenes and action came alive for me. Some people seem to be offended by the racism in the book, but that's how things were back then. Sugar coating it would have ruined the story reducing it to a Harlequin romance.
This is an incredibly well written book about the death of a civilization and the struggles to survive in the new era. This is a book that should not be missed, particulary those who enjoy historical fiction.
175 of 192 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2004
It took this reviewer half a century to get around to reading this great novel for the first time! Appreciating it then, with 'fresh eyes' I share the view that "Gone With The Wind" is quite simply the most readable long novel of all time. With world-wide sales nudging 25 million, it's probably fair to say that most first-time readers (apart from the odd reviewer here at the world's biggest web site) have shared that opinion in the almost 70 years since Margaret Mitchell wrote her one-and-only book. At least one other, highly readable novelist of the past century, the late James A. Michener certainly felt that way.
I'm recalling an interview of thirty years ago in which Michener - a master storyteller in his own right - expressed awe at Mitchell's achievement. I remember Michener quoted a long-forgotten critic who greeted the book's release in 1936 with the perfect, one-sentence summing up: "It's the shortest long novel I have ever read!" Michener predicted at that time (1975) that "critics will forever have to grapple with the problem of why Margaret Mitchell's novel has remained so readable, and so important to so many people."
Michener singled out a few of the "super-dramatic confrontations" so perfectly conjured up in Mitchell's lucid, timeless writing style: Mammy lacing Scarlett into her corset; the wounded at the railway station; Scarlett shooting the Union straggler; the girls making Scarlett a dress from the moss-green velvet draperies; Rhett carrying his wife upstairs to the long-unused bedroom.
Yet for all of its amazing drama, the novel does not ultimately depend upon major confrontations for its page-turning momentum: Michener I remember, zeroed in on two 'central' paragraphs which provide the reader with perfect glimpses into the way the two major characters have 'grown' before our eyes within these pages. One of these paragraphs captivates our imagination in about the middle of the book (chapter 29):
"Somewhere, on the long road that wound through those four years, the girl with her sachet and dancing slippers, had slipped away, and there was left a woman with sharp green eyes, who counted pennies and turned her hands to many menial tasks, a woman to whom nothing was left from the wreckage, except the indestructible red earth on which she stood."
And, in the final pages, that indelible portrait of Rhett, age forty-five:
"He was sunken in his chair, his suit wrinkling untidily against his thickening waist, every line of him proclaiming the ruin of a fine body and the coarsening of a strong face. Drink and dissipation had done their work on the coin-clean profile, and now it was no longer the head of a young pagan prince on newly minted gold, but a decadent, tired Caesar on copper debased by long usage."
It's true to say (again as Michener noted thirty years ago) that the weakness of "Gone With The Wind" is the almost exclusive focus on Atlanta, ignoring the rest of the South: When in fact, it was really the ENTIRE South that changed, "altered by war, and defeat, and social upheaval - and stark determination to re-establish itself." Michener astutely observed that GWTW "depicts with remarkable felicity, the spiritual history of a region."
Most everyone these days would concede that Margaret Mitchell's personal views on the "liberation of the former slaves" (as expressed in subsequent interviews) were less than compassionate. Nevertheless, it was NOT Mitchell who composed those words which make some of us wince when they're scrolling up the screen in the movie version - words quaintly poetic perhaps, but manifestly insulting to those Americans whose ancestors never mistook the days of slavery as part of some "pretty world" poignantly longed-for, or in some way better than America today. (This reviewer has a pretty good memory for well-cadenced English prose, and this is his memory of those opening words from some anonymous male screenwriter.)
"There was a land of cavaliers and cotton fields called the 'Old South.' Here, in this pretty world, gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of knights and their ladies fair, of master and slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a civilization gone with the wind."
So much better are the novelist's own words, distilled into so many sentences and paragraphs that positively 'sing' in our memory. Like this one:
"He swung her off her feet into his arms and started up the stairs. Her head was crushed against his chest and she heard the hard hammering of his heart beneath her ears. He hurt her and she cried out, muffled, frightened. Up the stairs, he went in the utter darkness, up, up, and she was wild with fear."
"Hunger gnawed at her empty stomach again, and she said aloud: "As God is my witness, as God is my witness, the Yankees aren't going to lick me. I'm going to live through this, and when it's over, I'm never going to be hungry again. No, nor any of my folks. If I have to steal or kill - as God is my witness, I'm never going to be hungry again."
I have often thought that "age twenty-six" is the single most important year of any long and healthy lifetime (for too many subjective reasons to list here; but think of the athletes or musicians we've admired when they were at the very summit of their game -- in their twenty-sixth year). So it comes as no surprise to learn that Margaret Mitchell was at that same magic age when she began work on this --- the book another great novelist of the last century would term "this long and powerful recollection of her home town - destined to become a titanic tale of human passions, loved around the world" . . . (its astonishing impact) "a mystery then, and remains one now."
746 of 843 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2004
Eric Arthur Blair was an important English writer that you probably already know by the pseudonym of George Orwell. He wrote quite a few books, but many believe that his more influential ones were "Animal farm" (1944) and "1984" (1948).In those two books he conveyed, metaphorically and not always obviously, what Soviet Russia meant to him.
I would like to make some comments about the second book, "1984". That book was written near his death, when he was suffering from tuberculosis, what might have had a lot to do with the gloominess that is one of the essential characteristics of "1984". The story is set in London, in a nightmarish 1984 that for Orwell might well have been a possibility, writting as he was many years before that date. Or maybe, he was just trying to warn his contemporaries of the dangers of not opposing the Soviet threat, a threat that involved a new way of life that was in conflict with all that the English held dear.
Orwell tried to depict a totalitarian state, where the truth didn't exist as such, but was merely what the "Big Brother" said it was. Freedom was only total obedience to the Party, and love an alien concept, unless it was love for the Party. The story is told from the point of view of Winston Smith, a functionary of the Ministry of Truth whose work involved the "correction" of all records each time the "Big Brother" decided that the truth had changed. The Party slogan said that "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past", and they applied it constantly by "bringing up to date" the past so as to make it coincide with whatever the Party wanted.
From Winston Smith's point of view, many things that scare us are normal. For example, the omnipresence of the "Big Brother", always watching you, and the "Thought Police" that punishes treacherous thoughts against the Party. The reader feels the inevitability of doom that pervades the book many times, in phrases like "Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you".
Little by little, Winston begins to realize that things are not right, and that they should change. We accompany him in his attempt at subversion, and are unwilling witnesses of what that attempt brings about. This book is marked by hopelessness, but at the same time it is the kind of distressing book we all NEED to read...
Why do we need to read "1984"?. In my opinion, basically for two reasons. To start with, Orwell made in this book many observations that are no more merely fiction, but already things that manage to reduce our freedom. Secondly, and closelly linked to my first reason, this is a book that only gets better with the passing of time, as you can read in it more and more implications. One of Orwell's main reasons for writting this "negative utopia" might have been to warn his readers against communism, but many years after his death and the fall of communism, we can also interpret it as a caution against the excessive power of mass media, or the immoderate power of any government (even those who don't defend communism).
Technological innovation should be at the service of men, and allow them to live better lives, but it can be used against them. I guess that is one of Orwell's lessons, probably the most important one. All in all, I think you can benefit from reading this book. Because of that, I highly recommend it to you :)
248 of 281 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 1998
George Orwell's final novel, 1984, was written amidst the anti-communist hysteria of the cold war. But unlike Orwell's other famous political satire, Animal Farm, this novel is filled with bleak cynicism and grim pessimism about the human race. When it was written, 1984 stood as a warning against the dangerous probabilities of communism. And now today, after communism has crumbled with the Berlin Wall; 1984 has come back to tell us a tale of mass media, data mining, and their harrowing consequences.
It's 1984 in London, a city in the new überstate of Oceania, which contains what was once England, Western Europe and North America. Our hero, Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Truth altering documents that contradict current government statements and opinions. Winston begins to remember the past that he has worked so hard to destroy, and turns against The Party. Even Winston's quiet, practically undetectable form of anarchism is dangerous in a world filled with thought police and the omnipresent two-way telescreen. He fears his inevitable capture and punishment, but feels no compulsion to change his ways.
Winston's dismal observations about human nature are accompanied by the hope that good will triumph over evil; a hope that Orwell does not appear to share. The people of Oceania are in the process of stripping down the English language to its bones. Creating Newspeak, which Orwell uses only for examples and ideas which exist only in the novel. The integration of Newspeak into the conversation of the book. One of the new words created is doublethink, the act of believing that two conflicting realities exist. Such as when Winston sees a photograph of a non-person, but must reason that that person does not, nor ever has, existed.
The inspiration for Winston's work ,may have come from Russia. Where Stalin's right-hand man, Trotzky was erased from all tangible records after his dissention from the party. And the fear of telescreens harks back to the days when Stasi bugs were hooked to every bedpost, phone line and light bulb in Eastern Europe.
His reference to Hitler Youth, the Junior Spies, which trains children to keep an eye out for thought criminals- even if they are their parents; provides evidence for Orwell's continuing presence in pop culture. "Where men can't walk, or freely talk, And sons turn their fathers in." is a line from U2's 1993 song titled "The Wanderer".
Orwell assumes that we will pick up on these political allusions. But the average grade 11 student will probably only have a vague understanding of these due to lack of knowledge. It is even less likely that they will pick up on the universality of these happenings, like the fact that people still "disappear" without a trace every day in Latin America.
Overall, however, the book could not have been better written. Orwell has created characters and events that are scarily realistic. Winston's narration brings the reader inside his head, and sympathetic with the cause of the would-be-rebels. There are no clear answers in the book, and it's often the reader who has to decide what to believe. But despite a slightly unresolved plot, the book serves its purpose. Orwell wrote this book to raise questions; and the sort of questions he raised have no easy answer. This aspect can make the novel somewhat of a disappointment for someone in search of a light read. But anyone prepared to not just read, but think about a novel, will get a lot out of 1984.
1984, is not a novel for the faint of heart, it is a gruesome, saddening portrait of humanity, with it's pitfalls garishly highlighted. Its historic importance has never been underestimated; and it's reemergence as a political warning for the 21st century makes it deserving of a second look. Winston's world of paranoia and inconsistent realities is an eloquently worded account of a future we thought we buried in our past; but in truth may be waiting just around the corner.
238 of 270 people found the following review helpful
George Orwell's classic was incredibly visionary. It is hardly fathomable that this book was written in 1948. Things that we take for granted today - cameras everywhere we go, phones being tapped, bodies being scanned for weapons remotely - all of these things were described in graphic detail in Orwell's book.
Now that we have the Internet and people spying on other people w/ webcams and people purposely setting up their own webcams to let others "anonymously" watch them, you can see how this culture can develop into the Orwellian future described in "1984."
If you've heard such phrases as "Big Brother," "Newspeak," and "thought crime" and wondered where these phrases came from, they came from this incredible, vivid and disturbing book.
Winston Smith, the main character of the book is a vibrant, thinking man hiding within the plain mindless behavior he has to go through each day to not be considered a thought criminal. Everything is politically correct, children defy their parents (and are encouraged by the government to do so) and everyone pays constant allegiance to "Big Brother" - the government that watches everyone and knows what everyone is doing at all times - watching you shower, watching you having sex, watching you eat, watching you go to the bathroom and ultimately watching you die.
This is a must-read for everyone.
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2007
"Gone With the Wind," as a novel, has been mistakenly dismissed by literary critics as pulp fiction for the masses. This view is premature and biased, in my opinion. If one digs deeply into the fabric of this very complex novel, one is likely to find that this novel works on two very different levels: the external level, in which themes such as survival and romantic love figure prominently; and the internal level, in which themes such as division v. reunion and the child v. the adult figure prominently.
An external analysis of the novel yields much that has been obvious to the reading and movie-going public for years. "Gone With the Wind" is, most obviously, a very powerful novel about a young woman's survival of two unique crises: the American Civil War and Reconstruction of the South that followed. The personal qualities of those who survive and prosper in this novel -- characters such as Scarlett O'Hara, Rhett Butler, Mammy, Will Benteen, old Mrs. Fontaine, even Mrs. Merriwether -- are contrasted sharply with those who do not survive and prosper: Ashley Wilkes, Ellen O'Hara, Gerald O'Hara, and Scarlett's first two husbands, Charles Hamilton and Frank Kennedy.
Melanie Hamilton presents an interesting study in the story of survival. Margaret Mitchell uses her to represent the dignified stateliness of the Old South matron. Rather than becoming a victim of the Old South's disintegration, she survives in a way that equals or even surpasses Scarlett's survival. Melanie, whom Mitchell originally intended as the novel's heroine, is the woman who saves Tara from burning to the ground; the woman who drags her father's Mexican War sword to the landing at Tara, helping Scarlett defend it from the Yankee invader; and the woman who stands against polite society in order to defend Scarlett, her beloved sister-in-law, from the town's gossip. Yes, she dies at the end of the novel, and Mitchell uses this to represent the passing of the Old South. However, even here, Melanie dies in her own bed, in her own home, with her own family about her, and she dies on her own terms: after conceiving a child she knew placed her own life at risk.
It is also about three interconnected love stories: the traditional, dignified courtship and marriage of Melanie Hamilton and Ashley Wilkes; the thwarted, unconsummated relationship between Ashley Wilkes and Scarlett O'Hara; and the temptuous, passionate courtship and marriage of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. The central theme of these love stories is summarized early in the novel by Scarlett's father, Gerald O'Hara: "Only when like marries like can there be any happiness."
These themes, while universal and very powerful, are only external to the novel, and I don't believe the novel's power or universality are derived from the themes of survival and love. I believe its power is much more subtle. Indeed, for years, it has been a mystery to literary critics why this novel was received equally well by 10-year olds as well as 95-year olds. Therein lies its secret: it is a novel with which both the 10-year old child and the 95-year old adult can identify strongly. It is a novel about children and it is a novel about adults.
Every one of the major characters has qualities of both children and adults in them. These are handled subtly, not obviously, and the language of the novel, which I believe Margaret Mitchell crafted deliberately along these lines, takes the reader in this direction. For example, listen to what Scarlett says about men: "All the men in Scarlett's life, the Tarleton twins, the Calvert boys, Charles, and Frank, she could dismiss with the phrase, 'What a child!' Not Rhett. He was an adult in everything he did. Only Rhett and Ashley ..."
Scarlett is portrayed as both child and adult. "I'm always your little girl," she says to her mother in the middle of the Civil War, when in fact she is a widow with a 2-year old son. The woman whose heroism saves Tara from oblivion is evaluated by Rhett at the end: "My pet, you're such a child." By the end of the novel, when Scarlett is only 28 years old, she has been married three times, widowed twice, given birth to three children, and buried one of them. Yet, in her dreams, she is still "a lost child." When asked if she thought Scarlett ever got Rhett back, Margaret Mitchell said: "I don't think so, but I do think she finally grew up."
Melanie is the adult who masquerades in child's clothing -- and has a child's figure. Mitchell takes pain to describe Melanie's physical appearance "as that of a 10-year old boy, with narrow hips and height barely coming up to Ashley's shoulders." Yet it is Melanie who has the wisdom to see Scarlett's finer qualities, her strength of character, her commitment to her promises, and her ability to survive -- wisdom that is ironically viewed by Scarlett (and others) as foolishness. She is portrayed as foolish to be so loyal and loving to Scarlett; yet it turns out, in the end, that Scarlett's attachment to Ashley was imaginary, and it turns out in the end that Scarlett loves Melanie deeply. She is portrayed as foolish for defending Rhett Butler so staunchly, yet her wisdom about his good qualities is thoroughly vindicated by the novel's end. Of all the principles, it is Melanie who is the most wise -- and the most adult. Yet her external appearance is very childlike.
Rhett is usually depicted as an adult, the black sheep of a prominent Charleston family who makes his own fortune as a blockade runner from just a $1,000 investment. He admits, at novel's end, that he wanted to care for Scarlett, as an adult would care for a child; yet he is relentlessly mothered by Melanie, especially toward the end: she straightens him up so that he can be presentable to Scarlett after her miscarriage; and only she can convince him to consent to Bonnie's funeral. Further, he enables Melanie's mothering throughout the novel. She is the only person that he truly respects because, I suspect, she is a reminder to him of his own mother, a character who is rather prominent in the novel, though largely absent. Interestingly, it is only Melanie who comes into contact with her, as she greets mourners for Bonnie in the parlor of Scarlett and Rhett's mansion.
Ashley Wilkes is the real child of the four principles, but it takes Scarlett the entire duration of the novel, more than 12 years, to realize this. Ashley is the weakest character, the one who has failed to give up the "life that [he] loved," the one who depicts the charm and grace of the Old South to Scarlett -- the only time that she succumbs to the mistake of looking back. Mitchell is very deft with this scene. It is portrayed as a scene that exposes Ashley and Scarlett's illicit love for each other. However, what's really being exposed here is their common dependence on the past, Ashley's being overt and Scarlett's much more deeply repressed. By implication, it's also exposing the true nature of their attraction for each other, because they shared a common upbringing, growing up on neighboring plantations.
This scene is expertly crafted. While Ashley and Scarlett are reminiscing about the charm and grace of their common past -- an event which culminates in their hugging in a truly platonic manner, one in which they begin to understand each other -- they are exposed to the gossip and criticism of Atlanta society. What's being exposed here is not their unconsummated romance; it's their common reliance on living in the past. It's fitting that they should be exposed when they're reminiscing about their common past, because that is the real force of their attraction, the real reason for their love (an ultimately childish love, by the way). Mitchell uses this scene to expose them not to Atlanta society, but to the reader. They're not in love with each other; they're in love with a life that is (forgive the cliche) gone with the wind. At the end of the novel, when Scarlett realizes she truly loves Rhett, she sums up her relationship with Ashley: "I've lost my lover and I've gained another child."
Virtually every relationship in this novel can be evaluated as child v. adult; think, for example, of Mammy, the real mother figure of the novel. Look at Ellen and Gerald O'Hara; he was 43 when they married and she was 15; yet she mothers him, right up until her death. Consider one of their final episodes, recounted to Scarlett in Atlanta by John Wilkes, in which Gerald wanted to fight in the war. Ellen puts him to the test insofar as riding his horse is concerned, a test that "little Gerald, who barely came up to her shoulders" failed miserably. After Ellen dies, Gerald's life collapses and he is a broken man, right until his death.
Finally, there is the theme of division and reunion that appears on numerous occasions throughout the novel. Consider how the novel starts: Scarlett is seated on the front steps of Tara between the Tarleton twins -- a divisive force for two brothers who are otherwise as "alike as two bolls of cotton." The novel begins with internal and external symbols of division. The Civil War starts. We are introduced to Scarlett and Melanie, the two heroines who are complete opposites and, at least for Scarlett, adamantly opposed to one another. We are introduced to Ashley and Rhett, the two heroes who are also complete opposites, at least externally, and rather opposed to one another; Ashley dislikes Rhett's blackguardism, and Rhett has contempt for Ashley's weaknesses.
Mitchell deliberately tries to convince the reader, by cleverly contrasting their external characteristics, that these characters are hopelessly divided. Scarlett "hates" Melanie because she is a foolish simpleton and Ashley's wife; Rhett is a symbol of the New South, and Ashley is a symbol of the Old South; Rhett is a survivor, Ashley is a victim. Scarlett is a divisive figure in Melanie and Ashley's marriage. Scarlett is a divisive figure in the Hamilton-Wilkes families: toward the end, she is the indirect cause of a family feud that splits the family into two separate camps. Scarlett, herself, is a divided character - the result of an alliance between an Irish immigrant and an established aristocrat from the Savannah coast. "In her face were too sharply blended the sharp features of her father, an Irish immigrant, and the more delicate features of her mother, a French aristocrat from Savannah." Mitchell has even put division on Scarlett's face -- one reason that Vivien Leigh, who as an actress utilized divided eyebrows (one up, one down) for Scarlett, was such a perfect choice for the part. "She is my Scarlett," admitted Margaret Mitchell.
Division is the premise of the novel. Reunion is its conclusion. Everything that was divided is ultimately united by novel's end. Melanie and Scarlett reach an understanding with each other; Scarlett comes to realize how much she loves and relies on Melanie, and comes to appreciate her strength, the "steel courage" that has sustained her through many crises. Indeed, the evolution of their relationship is one of the most touching and endearing aspects of the novel. Whereas we begin the novel with Ashley depicted as the war hero whose life is lived for "dignity and honor" and with Rhett depicted as the blackguard who is motivated only by crass selfishness, we end the novel with Ashley reduced to a helpless, purposeless victim and Rhett enhanced as a loving husband and father. Along the way, the stark contrasts that Mitchell draws early between Rhett and Ashley yield to sympathetic comparisons. "Did it ever occur to you, Scarlett, that Rhett and I are fundamentally alike?" Ashley inquires toward the end. Yet their similarities are evident -- though repressed -- from the beginning. In a surprising confrontation with Mrs. Merriwether, Melanie defends Rhett's criticisms of the war because they mirror things her husband has written to her. Ashley and Rhett begin the novel as divided and opposed to one another; they end united and unified as characters. Melanie and Scarlett, likewise, begin the novel as opposed opposites and end the novel united and unified. Division begets reunion.
This theme, division and reunion, is especially powerful when you consider the historical context of the novel. In my view, it is no accident, but rather a careful decision on Margaret Mitchell's part, to time the action of the novel from April 1861, the start of the Civil War, the ultimate symbol of division, to September 1873, the end of Reconstruction, the ultimate symbol of reunion. It is a breathtaking historical backdrop for a novel whose dramatic power is derived from characters experiencing division and reunion in their lives.
It is curious that Mitchell's novel has born the brunt of belittling and contemptuous literary criticism over the years. When it debuted, it sold millions and won the Pulitzer Prize; no film, before or since, has ever been so widely anticipated as the 1939 film was. Its massive popularity, I suspect, and Mitchell's melodramatic writing style have contributed to this contempt. However, when one considers the thematic breadth of the novel, its impeccable structure, and the awesome scope of its narrative force, "Gone With the Wind" is a singular and astonishing achievement. I believe its universality, its appeal from the 10-year old to the 95-year old, is best explained by the themes of child v. adult and division v. reunion. I also believe that it is these themes that explain why it captivates us after 71 years and will continue to captive generations to come.
103 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2010
Nothing needs to be said about 1984 as a story - it's an excellent read.
However, the publisher should be ashamed of the "Kindle edition" of this great novel. Page numbers (which mean nothing on a Kindle) frequently show up in the middle of sentences. It seems that the publisher scanned the paper text, ran it through some OCR software, and published the work without a human reviewing it for quality.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 1999
Six years ago I was in a bookshop and on the shelf I saw a copy of George Orwell's "1984". I had often heard people mention this novel on TV in political discussions and so on without really knowing what they mean't. Out of curiosity I decided to buy the book and see what it was like. I quite enjoyed it, and later that year we had to read it for Year 12 English. What I found interesting were the reactions of the other kids. Some liked it, others found it boring, uneventful or irrelevant. I remember one boy saying: "But 1984 was nothing like that!" The point about this novel is that it isn't supposed to be like a Nostradamus prophecy. George Orwell was writing about the social conditions that existed at the time in which he was living. Shortages, censorship, government red tape and the manipulation of popular opinion. I'm not overly concerned with the book's issues of politics or whether it's been proved inacurrate or not. I like to think of this as the story of an "alternative" 1984, a look at how different the world might be if history went in a different direction. Other books that explore this theme are "The Man In The High Castle" and "Fatherland" which are both set in worlds where the Nazis had won the Second World War. These books revel in historical inaccuracy. I think "1984" still has some relevance though. Especially the way the media alter people's view of the world by deciding what we should and shouldn't see, or the way newspapers "enhance" photographs. An example that comes to mind is when a newspaper altered a photo of the killer Martin Bryant by putting more shadow around his eyes to make this ordianary-looking man look psychotic. George Orwell was right about the idea of people being under constant surveillance, now that hidden cameras abound, a device more subtle and unobtrusive than the telescreen. Even though we're not all wearing blue overalls and worshipping a demi god, free will is being undermined in a more insidious way. This novel has made an impact on other writers, particularly Anthony Burgess. He wrote a novel called "1985". The beginning of that novel descibes his version of how the world of Big Bother, Ingsoc and the Thought Police came about. This isn't a sequel, more of a reaction to the former book. In conclusion "1984" is an interesting book of a world that might have been, and might still be.