“Gone with the Wind,” one of the most popular books ever written and made into a movie that won 10 Oscars, has been branded “harmful” by its own publisher.
Pan Macmillan calls the Civil War epic — which took author Martha Mitchell 10 years to write — “problematic” in a note at the beginning of the latest addition, which adds that the book contains “racist” elements that are possibly “hurtful or indeed harmful.”
“‘Gone with the Wind’ is a novel which includes problematic elements including the romanticization of a shocking era in our history and the horrors of slavery,” the publishers write, according to The Telegraph. “The novel includes the representation of unacceptable practices, racist and stereotypical depictions and troubling themes, characterization, language and imagery.”
The publishers note that they did not make edits to the book, as has been done to the books of Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl, and Ian Fleming.
“The text of this book remains true to the original in every way and is reflective of the language and period in which it was originally written,” they write. “We want to alert readers that there may be hurtful or indeed harmful phrases and terminology that were prevalent at the time this novel was written and which are true to the context of the historical setting of this novel. Pan Macmillan believes changing the text to reflect today’s world would undermine the authenticity of the original, so has chosen to leave the text in its entirety.”
But they conclude, “This does not, however, constitute an endorsement of the characterization, content or language used.”
The Other Boleyn Girl author Philippa Gregory penned an essay following the note that precedes the book’s text. Gregory contends that Mitchell “effectively promoted the racist planter view of the history of the South,” that “it tells us, unequivocally, that African people are not of the same species as white people,” that it “defends racism” and “glamorizes and preaches white supremacy.”
In the novel, as in the film, the character of Mammy is the only person (outside of Rhett Butler) who chastises Scarlett O’Hara, the book’s heroine. Mammy criticizes Scarlett for her behavior, whether for seducing her sister’s boyfriend or her immodest dress.
In 2020, in the midst of the Black Lives Matter/George Floyd protests, the film was temporarily pulled from viewing on HBO Max by Warner Media.
“Gone With The Wind’ is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society. These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible,” an HBO Max spokesperson informed Variety. “These depictions are certainly counter to WarnerMedia’s values, so when we return the film to HBO Max, it will return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions, but will be presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history.”