Nearly everyone has at least a passing familiarity with Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind; few are those who couldn’t identify phases such as "Fiddle-dee-dee", "I’ll think about it tomorrow… tomorrow is another day" and "frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn." Excepted as a literary masterpiece, it made it’s debut as a motion picture in 1939, and went on the garner a record breaking number of Academy Award nominations and won ten Oscars, including one for Best Picture. With Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh playing Rhett and Scarlett, the film went on to have international success.

Although stunningly acted, the intricacies of characters and plot were lost to some degree in their conversion to the silver screen. To uncover the depth of Ms. Mitchell’s characters, one must turn to the novel. However, 833 pages of very small type are often enough to discourage even the most dedicated bibliophile. Further, the vocabulary is unusual to a twenty-first century audience, as are the concepts of horse and rail dependant travel, kerosene lighting and war on American soil. In view of these pitfalls, the novel is often viewed as little more than a piece of literature- undoubtedly excellent literature, but a work of fiction just the same.

As with most novels adapted into movies, there are some differences in the content. In the novel, Scarlett has three children- one by each of her husbands. In the movie her only child is by Rhett, husband number three. Also, in the novel the Union Army visits Tara, Scarlett’s childhood home twice. In the movie soldiers only come through once. Scarlett’s sisters never marry in the movie. In the novel one marries and the other joins a convent. However, both the film and the novel Gone with the Wind are, by and large, historically accurate. Both lack the standard disclaimer so often seen in modern times: "any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental." Skeptics say there probably never was a Scarlett O’Hara, or a Rhett Butler. There was however, Confederacy, a William Sherman, a siege of Atlanta and a Reconstruction; how many other aspects of this work may well be true?


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