Going with a wind: a highway outing to Scarlett and Rhett’s aged stomping ground

February 26, 2016 - garden totes

“As God is my witness, I’ll never be desirous again!” we swear, perplexing to clutch my fist and lift it adult to a blazing – we meant cloudy – sky. we can’t; we am too full.

An hour or so progressing we gathering into Atlanta and a initial thing we beheld was a Peachtree Street sign. we was immediately filled with a low rapture.

“Look, Steve, look! This is where Aunt Pittypat’s residence was!” we pointed, hopping adult and down in my seat.

“Who?”

“God’s nightgown, Steve!” we exclaimed, scandalised. “Aunt Pittypat from Gone with a Wind, of course! The plump one who always simulated to faint; Charles and Melanie Hamilton’s aunt? Where Scarlett O’Hara went to live usually before a polite war?”

“Oh … right,” pronounced Steve.

It incited out he had never review a magnificent, noble Gone with a Wind. Not once. He hadn’t even seen a film – that won 8 of a 13 Oscars it was nominated for, during a 12th Academy Awards – detached from giving it a cursory peek on radio when he was a teenager.

I, on a other hand, am on insinuate terms with each line, each impression vital and teen in a book, carrying review it substantially 25 times in a past 30 years. Driving along Peachtree Street, where so many of a movement in a epic book that gave birth to a many essential suit design in American story (adjusting for inflation) takes place, sent me into a fictional, or rather, fiction-related, frenzy.

Now we wanted to change a road-trip skeleton and spend a rest of my time in a United States – or my life – in a southern state of Georgia, following in Scarlett’s footsteps. Go to Tara, Twelve Oaks, Jonesboro, Decatur Road, Charleston and Savannah. we wanted to see a place where Rhett Butler, carrying unexpected motionless to join a Confederate army after years spent scoffing during a heroes in grey, left Scarlett in a center of a night, with Atlanta in abandon behind them and Yankee soldiers everywhere. we wanted to mount on a red earth of Georgia and know in my heart that land – it’s “the usually thing in a universe value workin’ for, value fightin’ for, value dyin’ for, given it’s a usually thing that lasts” – and we wanted to mount on a staircase where Scarlett so unhesitatingly shot a prowling Yankee right between a eyes. And afterwards we wanted to …

“Let’s have lunch first,” Steve suggested.

MARY MAC’S TEA ROOM, in a heart of Atlanta, is a superb square of Americana, looking like a Norman Rockwell description full of photos of a celebrities who have eaten here and apparently done it out alive. Now we will have my initial correct Southern liberality dish as described in Gone with a Wind: grits, hogs on spits, yams drizzling with butter, biscuits and gravy, hominy, okra, boiled duck with coleslaw and corn on a cob.

Being almost weight-conscious, we sequence something that looks like a lighter dish – duck and vegetables – usually to have it come during me like General Stonewall Jackson himself, and punch me in a guts. The chicken, a carrots, a peas, a broccoli; all come in a beat so complicated it is unfit to see what lurks beneath. Is it broccoli? Or a spoon? we can’t finish a third of it, yet there are copiousness of people in a grill who demeanour as yet they have lived off 5 or 6 such dishes a day for decades, polishing off each final morsel.

I consternation how on earth those Southern ladies, generally those in a top echelons, for whom each dish was a banquet, could have maintained, like Scarlett, a 17-inch waist (the smallest in 3 counties). Of course, they all had their mammies or other Negro (slave) maids to tie their corsets for them while they clung to their four-poster beds, yet still …

Another doubt that shortly raises itself is how in a universe did those ladies, during slightest while they were still “belles”, with no domicile responsibilities, keep themselves unchanging on this fibre-less, over-starchy diet. Scarlett was a bit of a hoyden who enjoyed roving and climbing trees, yet girls like her whingeing sister, Suellen, who “had frequency walked some-more than a hundred yards during a time in her life”, contingency have found bowel movements tough going, as it were.

I have put on 3kg in a singular dish and will substantially have to take laxatives for a rest of a year. But – fiddle-dee-dee! Like Scarlett mostly said, “I’ll consider about it tomorrow.”

She also pronounced “Great balls of fire!” a lot. And that’s accurately what we consider when we learn that it’s been 80 years given Margaret Mitchell published her masterpiece. To me, it’s still as uninformed as when we initial review it in, let’s say, 1971. My reading habits and tastes have naturally developed given those proposal years and, as we change, we conclude opposite tools of a book.

As a immature girl, we review it for a excellence and romance, a barbecues and gowns, a swashbuckling glorious of Rhett and a strenuous expostulate and rapacity of Scarlett, personally anticipating that if we review a book again, they would, this time, reunite in a end. we mostly skipped a tedious pages, describing a beauty of Georgia, a egghead Ashley’s sour musings about a mislaid “Cause” and many of a descriptions of a polite fight and a aftermath. In those days, a book would have been ideal for me had it finished after Rhett outrageously paid US$200 for “Mrs Charles Hamilton” (Scarlett) to dance with him during a fundraiser for a Cause, with her swathed in anguish black for her father “not one year in a grave”.

As an adult, we could conclude a fight of adore between dual unapproachable and realistic people, a terrible finality of genocide and a difference “too late”. we realised with what superhuman calm Rhett had desired Scarlett and marvelled during how a author could make a book’s heroine so totally unlikable and still have a reader rooting for her, notwithstanding there being no dignified comeuppance or emancipation available a protagonist during a end.

Then, in new years, after carrying visited a US and reading adult on a fascinating history, we have turn some-more and some-more meddlesome in Gone with a Wind as a chronological request about a polite fight (1861-65), in that some-more Americans mislaid their lives than in all successive wars put together.

“LET’S GO TO MARGARET Mitchell’s house-slash-museum!” Steve says, behind in a car.

“Why, we scallywag, we varmint! You carpetbagger Yankee cracker GENIUS!” we say, fondly. Steve always skeleton a best highway trips.

The house, built in plain and critical section and set in a little garden on – where else – Peachtree Street, looks noble and sedate; a really design of respectability. But Mitchell called it “The Dump”.

Once we’ve paid a rather outrageous US$25 to get in, we see that a house, now a museum of sorts, has been divided into 6 little units. Although atmospheric by Hong Kong standards, a one-bedroom prosaic she and her father lived in would have represented a joyless hillside for Mitchell, innate into a distinguished upper-middle-class Atlanta family. Yes, a prosaic is small, dim and poky, with standard early 20th-century over-furnishing and thick fate creation it demeanour smaller and darker. But there, on a little list underneath a stained-glass window is The Typewriter, a Remington on that Mitchell painstakingly beaten out Gone with a Wind over 10 years, forever fact-checking, rewriting and re-rewriting. Forget about illusory houses and characters, here is genuine literary history.

Mitchell’s second husband, John Marsh, gave her a typewriter during one of her many illnesses. He had grown sap of carrying a outrageous stacks of books that kept her feverishly active mind assigned and suggested that she “write her possess book” instead. The residence was already ripping with handwritten records to a chronological novel; as with all she wrote, Mitchell started with a final section and worked her approach backwards.

“Of march we knew it would never sell yet we didn’t intend to sell it. we was usually essay to keep from worrying about never walking again,” Mitchell wrote to a friend, while recuperating from an operation on her ankle. All a same, she showed a “unsellable” publishing to a literary agent, and a book, published in 1936, went on to turn a best-selling initial novel by an different author in history.

With Gone with a Wind‘s depiction of a people flustered and suppressed and a clever anti-authoritarian themes, a book was criminialized in Hitler’s Germany, as was a film. After a war, people in a cities of released Europe wept plainly during cinema premieres. Everybody could brand with depictions of people flourishing opposite all contingency and, nonetheless a film contains not a singular conflict scene, of a terrible fight that haunts America to this day.

Mitchell, innate in 1900, 36 years after a final conflict of a polite fight was fought, grew adult with all being about The War, The War, always The War. Raised as a hoyden while confusingly carrying to belong to a many manners ruling a poise of a Southern lady (like Scarlett, she hardly managed a veneer of lady-ness), she wore trousers and climbed trees, pursuit herself Jimmy.

She would float out with aged Confederate soldiers, listening to their stories from a battlefield. So convincing were these aged ipecac and her kin in their sad reconstructions of events that she was 10 years aged before she realised a South had indeed mislaid a war.

Mitchell got a pursuit as a underline author on The Atlanta Journal, where she lonesome all sorts of topics and interviewed mythological actor Rudolph Valentino, whose “… face was swarthy, so brownish-red that his white teeth flashed in extraordinary contrariety to his skin”. It’s probable Valentino desirous a impression Rhett Butler, about whose implausible swarthiness page after Gone with a Wind page is filled.

As we mount in Mitchell’s little 1920s kitchen, with a stove, seat and utensils reminding me of those of my possess grandmother, we consternation if Scarlett, now indelibly etched in people’s minds as temperament a face of Vivien Leigh, would have been a same exasperating, refreshing lady if she had been called … Pansy? Because that was a name Mitchell had primarily given her, changing it usually before a book, primarily patrician Tote a Weary Load, went to print.

The author had also designed for a self-sacrificing and radiant Melanie Hamilton to be a heroine of a book. But Scarlett elbowed her approach in and sucked all a oxygen out of each page she was on, apropos one of a most-loved – and exasperating – fictitious womanlike characters of all time.

The book was an evident success and it didn’t take prolonged before Hollywood came knocking on Mitchell’s door, in a figure of writer David O. Selznick. Every singer – from pigtailed girls hardly out of primary propagandize to toothless crones – wanted to play Scarlett, and Selznick used a media playground to his advantage, to emanate hum around a film.

It worked; to this day Gone with a Wind is a biggest box-office strike a universe has ever seen; and that during a time when a sheet was a large responsibility for many people, and many had to transport for hours to even get to a cinema.

It seems unfit now to suppose anyone yet Leigh as Scarlett. With her dimples and batting eyelashes, her coldly squeezing eyes and crashing eyebrows whenever anyone attempted to cranky her, she seemed innate to be in a film of a book created usually for her. But a hunt for a ideal Scarlett went on for dual years and a sharpened had already begun when Leigh, a practical unknown, was selected over such luminaries as Bette Davis, Tallulah Bankhead, Susan Hayward and Lana Turner.

The whole South had been in an conflict while a hunt went on, with everybody possibly wanting to play Scarlett or professing to know who should, yet after Leigh was chosen, tempers simmered down surprisingly quickly. “Better an English lady than a Yankee,” people reasoned.

In fact 3 of a 4 leads were played by English actors (Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland being a other two), with usually Rhett played by a genuine American, Clark Gable – and he was a usually one who couldn’t do a Southern accent.

On a second building of “The Dump”, footage from a premiere of a film during Loew’s Grand Theatre, in Atlanta, plays on an unconstrained loop. Leigh and de Havilland (at 99, a usually flourishing member of a cast) are there; so immature and glamorous. There is Gable, with his flashing white teeth, courteously observant a dusk “is Margaret Mitchell’s night” and he usually a spectator. There were 2,000 guest during a celebration yet it looks like a whole country, Yankees and all, were in a Georgian state collateral that night.

After a prolonged and inhuman battle, Atlanta had won a right to horde a premiere over New York, to a good and moral service of a whole South. But had a Big Apple hosted a festivities, nonetheless teeth-gnashingly disturbing for Southerners, during slightest a black actors would have been authorised to attend. As it was, Georgia’s separation laws spoke louder than even Gable, who had threatened to protest a premiere if a black actors were kept out. In a end, Hattie McDaniel, who played and won an Oscar for a purpose of Mammy in a film, talked him out of it.

Also benefaction during a premiere was a organisation of veterans, shown in a flickering black-and-white film tilt dressed in Confederate uniforms, shrunken and doddering. Watching them is strangely touching for me, given nonetheless we know I’m ostensible to support a Union soldiers and not a Confederates, it’s formidable to be steeped in Gone with a Wind science and not personally base for a South, anticipating opposite wish that it will win this time.

According to Gone with a Wind, a following “reconstruction” was, if possible, even worse than a tangible polite war. Southerners had all taken divided from them by Yankees brisk in to duke it over a degraded people, who took condolence in memories of an idealised past of “magnolia and moonshine”, a time when “darkies” knew their place yet did a pursuit as prolonged as we treated them like young, not really intelligent children.

Nevertheless, in a book, it’s mostly a black characters who are portrayed sympathetically, with a whites – with a difference of Melanie and Scarlett’s mother, Ellen Robillard O’Hara (those dual being so unselfish that, if they were genuine people, you’d substantially wish to slap them hard) – shown as being stupid, scheming, selfish and evil, or weak, gormless, whimpering cowards.

In a film, a infrequent racism, a description of a Ku Klux Klan as nationalistic heroes, a fear of black group raping white women and a visit use of a “N” word have been erased, yet in a book they’re all there, creation Gone with a Wind an critical chronological document. That’s one of many reasons because we consider everybody whose attribute with this epic novel consists of zero some-more than glancing during a film as it plays in a credentials during a family Christmas cooking should review a book.

In it, Scarlett has 3 children, for example, not usually a one (“A cat’s a improved mom than you,” Rhett remarks). The story is some-more historical, a play some-more dramatic, Rhett is distant swarthier with many some-more slicing remarks and swearwords. And maybe many importantly, on a page there’s no strenuous 1939-style soundtrack. This allows a book to stay resolutely in a area of huge, billowing play instead of vouchsafing it frequently skid on a margin of melodrama, as a relentless suit design violins bear down.

Read a book, and you’ll learn that Rhett’s interruption acknowledgement is actually, “My dear, we don’t give a damn”. No “Frankly …” in sight.

 

​Gone yet not forgotten

When Margaret Mitchell was thrown from her equine as a teen she pennyless her ankle, an damage that was to disease her for a rest of her life.

She and her second husband, John Marsh, were both frequently ill and/or depressed, and lovingly nursed one another by their several withdrawals from open life. Although a successful journalist, Mitchell claimed to be essay Gone with a Wind “for her possess amusement”, as revelation to carrying any kind of veteran aspiration wasn’t comme il faut among women during a time.

But even in her dreams she could never have expected a present and exile success of her novel. Overwhelmed by a publicity, and indirect letters and phone calls as good as fans branch adult on her doorstep, she became a practical hermit and never wrote another book.

Mitchell was struck down on her approach to a cinema by a speeding automobile when she was 48 years old. A sedentary lifestyle had left her overweight and incompetent to jump out of a way.

 

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