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Historical Novels: The Readers’ Turn

November 2023
1min read

A generation after the civil rights movement of the sixties, and after years of revisionist work on Reconstruction, there are still some authors who tout Gone with the Wind as their favorite historical novel. (One would hope that they have also read its antithesis, the fine novel by Margaret Walker, Jubilee .) Whatever some feminists may say about Scarlett O’Hara as a gutsy woman, I find the novel’s elevation of the Klan totally offensive. As W. E. B. Du Bois remarked when the book came out, it was a distorted view of Reconstruction that justified the disenfranchisement of an entire people.

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