Definition #378 Gone With the Wind

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Gone With the Wind

was 1,037 pages when it was published in June of 1936 for the then-unheard of price of $3 per book. By December of that year, it had sold over a million copies and Mitchell was paid $50,000 for the movie rights. Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937, but she never wrote another novel. She was mainly pleased with the film version (1939), which starred Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, but she’d preferred Miriam Hopkins to Leigh for the role of Scarlett. She refused all offers to write the sequel. Her life had become inundated with press requests, money, and hangers-on.

When a reporter questioned Scarlett O’Hara’s shocking behavior, Mitchell became exasperated, exclaiming, “Wars have a way of changing women, whether the women are dressed in hoopskirts and pantalets or in knee-length skirts and bobbed hair.”

Mitchell was crossing the corners of Peachtree and 13th in Atlanta, on her way to see an afternoon movie, when she was hit by an off-duty cab. She never regained consciousness. She was 48 when she died and had left strict instructions to burn the original manuscript of Gone With the Wind, which the custodian of her building followed, though some pages remained, and are now archived. Today, Gone With the Wind has been translated into more than 30 languages worldwide and sells about 75,000 copies every year, making it a perennial best-seller.

Everywhere Mitchell went, people wanted to know what happened at the end of Gone With the Wind: did Rhett return to Scarlett? Mitchell had kept the ending purposefully vague, but finally told an interviewer, “For all I know, Rhett may have found someone else who was less difficult.”

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