Friday, November 09, 2007

GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell

The Book: Margaret Mitchell, GONE WITH THE WIND. Avon paperback reprint, date unknown; cover has been repaired and reinforced with tape, book is missing title page. Last page of book is torn and a replacement page from another copy is folded inside the back cover. Previous owner’s name (“Bridget Stencil”) written inside front cover.
First read: 1977
Owned since: 1984 (this copy, approximately)

I didn't buy this book; I swiped it off my younger sisters' bookcase sometime during college when I wanted to reread it, and I never gave it back. Susan even asked me if I had it at one point, and I told a bare-faced lie. Sorry about that...

Anyway, it's time for me to buy a new copy, so you can have this back if you want it, Sue.

What can I say about this book that hasn't been said a hundred times? I read it in seventh grade, on the recommendation of my teacher, Mrs. Bortz. My mother said that I should know that the real hero of the book was Melanie, not Scarlett. I have no objectivity on this book, so I can't discuss its literary merit or its political/racial point of view. It's not only a product of its time, it recorded and continues to shape the way the South sees itself. It's a book about resilience and courage and feminine power, and I have no reservations about recommending it to a bright 12-year-old.

In Montreal today, with better things to do than blog. The reading list is short, and I'm not going to apologize; life's crowded these days, and that's a good thing.

Tune in tomorrow, though, for a special announcement about next week's programming.

What I Read This Week

John Kelly, The GREAT MORTALITY: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time. My sister Peggy passed this book along; she knows my weakness. It's exactly what the title says. Kelly traces the progress of Y. pestis from central Asia to Italy, and from there to France, England, Spain and central Europe. Between 1347 and 1351, a third of the population of Europe died -- in some places, the percentage was higher than that. Kelly explores the reasons the plague struck as hard as it did (overpopulation, terrible hygiene, communities weakened by years of famine) and makes the case that, horrible as it was, the labor shortages and relative abundance that followed made the Renaissance possible. It occurred to me, as I read this book, that almost every person of European heritage on the planet is descended from survivors of this plague. So I got that going for me.

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