Tuesday, March 23, 2010

From Margaret Mitchell to Socrates

Margaret Mitchell wrote the last chapter of Gone with the Wind first. Then she put a thousand pages in front of it. After the publisher saw the manuscript, loved it, and wanted it, she had to finish it - which meant writing the first chapter. Oh, and Scarlett's name was Pansy. Yep, Pansy.
Last night our classic book group got together to discuss the first half of GWTW, so I did my usual research and dug deeper into the author and the book. I used to hate in school when a teacher did that with a book. I wanted it to stand alone on the story, forget it having a theme or symbols. Why can't it just be a good story?
And I guess it can, of course. But what if there is something more? What if the story shines light on my life? Or history? Or people's actions? And what if looking deeper binds the readers together in such a way as to affect change, or at least understanding?
In doing the research for the classics we've read, I've found that the author rarely seemed to know or think about a bigger picture, a theme, a call to action - they were just writing a story.
So it's what I, the reader, bring to the story and even more - what I take from the story.
Might it be the same with life? My days can just be days on a calendar or they can be more. Depending on what I bring to my days, and what I want to take from my days.
Socrates put it this way: "The unexamined life is not worth living."

1 comment:

Peter Brown, Instructor said...

Pansy! That's wild. Guess who killed Rhett Butler? IT's never been written until now! www.deathofrhett.blogspot.com.