|Megan Smiley||Ripley, Alexandra: Scarlett|
|Assignment 1: Bibliographic Description|
|1. First Edition Publication Information||Alexandra Ripley. SCARLETT: The Sequel to Margaret
Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND. Published by A Time Warner
Company, Warner Brothers, Inc., 666 Fifth Avenue, New York,
NY 10103, September 1991. Copyright 1991 Stephens
|2. First Edition in Cloth, Paper, or Both?||The first American edition was published in beige and dark
red trade cloth binding.
There is also a paperback edition that was first published
in October 1992 by Warner Books, Inc. The paperback looks
just like the dust jacket of the original hardcover book.
|4. Pagination||418 leaves. 836 pages, 110 of which are not numbered.
The page numbers are 1.8 cm from the top, 2 cm from the
outside corner. There are no illustrations in the book,
but the book is divided into parts.
[i-vi] [1-3] 4-18  20-28  30-38  40-47 
49-57  59-68  70-78  80-105 [106-109] 110-118
 120-132  134-138  140-150  152-153
 155-164  166-174  176-186  188-195
 197-204  206-208  210-221  223-234
 236-240  242-249  251-256  258-264
 266-275  277-285  287-291  293-299
 301-314  316-324 [325-327] 328-335  337-342
 344-355  357-361  363-369  371-377
 379-384  386-393  395-399  401-406
 408-412  414-421  423-430  432-437
[438-441] 442-452  454-460  462-470  472-480
 482-487  489-495  497-501  503-511
 513-515  517-520  522-526  528-535
 537-543  545-554  556-564  566-575
 577-581  583-586  588-601  603-608
 610-614  616-624  626-634  636-641
 643-650  652-658  660-667  669-675
 677-689  691-699  701-706  708-714
 716-723  725-734  736-742  744-751
 753-762  764-770  772-776  778-782
 784-790  792-799  801-823 [824-830]
|5. Edited and/or Introduced?||The first edition is neither edited or introduced.|
|6. Illustrated?||There is no illustration in the book, but the cover design
is done by Giorgetta Bell Mc Ree.
|8. General Appearance||23.6 cm x 15.9 cm.
Both the book itself and the cover art are attractive and
in good shape. The design is very simple and readable, and
the book looks brand new. The print is reasonably large,
and the pages are not cluttered: 1.9cm margin on side,
2.3 cm margin at bottom, 2.6 cm margin at the top. 93R.
The dust jacket is beige with SCARLETT in huge red lettering,
and "The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's" is in smaller black
lettering, with GONE WITH THE WIND in big gold lettering like
SCARLETT. "By Alexandra Ripley" is written at the bottom
in smaller black lettering with a colored picture of Scarlett on
a hill underneath. The book itself is very plain beige,
with nothing on the cover except for the etched-in picture
on Scarlett on a hill at the bottom.
|10. Description of Paper||The paper is thick, good quality, off-white paper.
There is no yellowing or tears. Between pages 785-790
there are some orangish smuges that look like someone might
have had dirty fingers from food, but otherwise, the book
is in excellent shape.
|11. Description of Binding||The material is cloth, and the color is dark red. Printed
in shinny gold letters on the binding is the title, with
"SCARLETT" in the biggest lettering, and "The Sequel to
Margaret Mitchell's" in smaller lettering on top of a
larger print "GONE WITH THE WIND" and smaller "by Alexandra
Ripley" underneath. There is also a Warner Books stamp at
the bottom. On the back of the book on the binding, there
is a little Time Warner logo etched into the red binding on
the bottom right side.
There is a paper dust jacket that is beige with the title
and author in bold letters, and a colored picture of Scarlett
on a hill at the bottom center of the cover.
The pages are all stitched together perfectly, the
outermost pages are glued to the cardboard cover, and they
are glued perfectly with no bumps or other flaws. The
binding is 1.8 inches wide.
|12. Title Page Transcription||SCARLETT / The Sequel to / Margaret Mitchell's /
GONE WITH THE WIND / By Alexandra Ripley / Warner Books /
A Time Warner Company. (Verso)
copyright 1991 Stephens Mitchell Trusts
All rights reserved.
Warner Books, Inc. 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10103
A Time Warner Company
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing: September 1991
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congess Cataloging-in-Publication Data
SCARLETT: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE
WIND/by Alexandra Ripley.
Ps3568.1597s27 1991 91-50272
813'.54 - dc 20 CIP
Book design by Giorgetta Bell McRee
|14. Manuscript Holdings||Not yet available.|
|15. Other||Dust jacket - inside the front flap reads:
GONE WITH THE WIND... dramatic, romantic, sweeping in its
depiction of a time and place in American history,
unparalleled in its portrayal of men and women at once larger
than life and as real as ourselves... the book that, for over
half a century, has been the most praised, the most popular,
and the most beloved historical novel ever wriiten in or
Now, the story begun in Margaret Mitchell's great classic,
the story that closed with a young women telling herself,
"Tomorrow is another day," continues - and the love affair
between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, the greatest love
affair in all fiction, reaches its startling
Four years in the writing, SCARLETT: The Sequel to Margaret
Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND is the product of painstaking
research, admiration and respect for the original work, and
the fertile imagination of accomplished and bestselling
historical writer, ALEXANDRA RIPLEY. SCARLETT seamlessly
picks up the narrative, bringing us back to Tara and the
people we remember so well: Rhett, Ashley, Mammy, Suellen,
(Continued on back flap)
(Continued from front flap)
Aunt Pittypat, and, of course, Scarlett herself. We meet
fascinating, new men and women who enrich and enlarge the
story. And we get to know many characters who stayed in the
background of Margaret Mitchell's broad opus, as they step
forward in this long-awaited sequel.
What happens to Ashley now that Melanie is gone? Does
Scarlett find a way to get Rhett back? Where do the upcoming
years take them? And what new joys, frustrations, and
adventures does the future hold? Using the elements and
events set into motion in Margaret Mitchell's novel, rich
with surprises and exciting developments, SCARLETT is an
irresistible and colorful read that stands on its own, even
as it satisfies our longing to reenter the world of GONE WITH
THE WIND. Here then is its worthy successor, a book to
treasure and savor as long as Scarlett and Rhett have a place
in our hearts... SCARLETT: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's
GONE WITH THE WIND.
ALEXANDRA RIPLEY, the writer chosen by the Margaret Mitchell
estate to write the sequel, was born and bred in the South and
is the author of three bestsellers: CHARLESTON, ON LEAVING
CHARLESTON, and NEW ORLEANS LEGACY. She lives near
Charlottesville, VA with her husband.
A Main Selection of The Literary Guild and of Doubleday Book
Jacket design by Jackie Merri Meyer
Jacket illustration by Bryan Haynes
Hand lettering by Carl Dellacroce
A Time Warner Company
The back of the dust jacket has an excerpt from the novel
There are no dedications or inscriptions.
|Assignment 2: Publication History|
|1. Other Editions:||No, the original publisher (Warner Books) did not publish
the book in more than one edition initially. There was a
paperback edition published by the same publisher at a
later date however.
Alexandra Ripley. SCARLETT: The Sequel to Margaret
Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND. Published by A Time Warner
Company, Warner Brothers, Inc. 1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020, October, 1992. Copyright 1991 Stephens
|4. First Edition printings or impressions?||The first edition of SCARLETT went back to print at least
three times by the end of 1991. The book was release at the
end of September, so in about three months it went back to
press three times.
|5. Editions from other publishers?||Reader's Digest Association, Pleasantville, NY: 1991.
Reader's Digest Association, Reader's Digest condensed
books: volume 2, 1992. First edition. Pleasantville, NY:
1992. (622 pages with illustrations).
G.K Hall, Boston, Massachuesetts: 1991-1992. (G.K. Hall
large print book series, in arrangement with Warner Books).
Macmillian London, 1991.
|6. Last date in print?||SCARLETT is still in print today. In print as of October
|7. Total copies sold?||More than Fifteen million copies have been sold world wide
as of November 14, 1994. (That's when the made for TV movie
Newsweek, November 14, 1994. Waters, Harry F. (byline).
Copyright 1994 Newsweek.
I have not found a more recent sales figure.
|8. Sales by year?||In the first year that SCARLETT was available, it was the
bestselling novel of the year with 2,148,225 copies sold
from September 25 through December 31, 1991.
I could not find the sales broken down by month.
As of the publication date, September 25, 1991, Warner Books
had 1 million copies of SCARLETT in print. Within the next
month the book had gone back to press twice for a total of
350,000 copies. Final order of SCARLETT as of October 1991
totalled 1,350,000 copies for Warner Books, and 130,000 for
the book club edition of SCARLETT.
|9. Advertising copy:||There were ads in magazines, on TV, and on the radio that
promoted the book before it came out.
There were several ads in the PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY dated at
the time that SCARLETT actually came out, describing the
tremendous acceptance of the long-awaited sequel to GONE
WITH THE WIND.
|11. Other promotion?||There was a National SCARLETT Day in London on September 24,
1991 to sell the first copies of the British edition. There
were Scarlett and Rhett look-a-likes, and an upscale Scarlett
Ball the next day to celebrate the opening of the sequel to
GONE WITH THE WIND.
French publisher Pierre Belfond paid $265,000 to promote
SCARLETT, and on the evening of September 24, 1991 he held
a pre-opening party with spare ribs, fried chicken and
brownies, and handed out copies of SCARLETT at midnight.
SCARLETT was also all over the news and radio, with many magazine
advertisements well before it came out.
There was a SCARLETT convention in Atlanta, GA from
September 20-22 to promote the publication of SCARLETT.
It was Alexandra Ripley's first appearance to promote her
new novel. There was much more going on than just the
launching of the SCARLETT phenonmenon, there were also
workshops, readings, panal discussions, and cocktail parties.
|12. Performances in other media?||There was a made-for-TV movie made in 1994 entitled SCARLETT.
It was 360 minutes long, and starred Joanne Whalley-Kilmer
and Timothy Dalton. Hallmark Home Entertainment, 1994-1996.
Also by Cabin Fever Entertainment 1994-1995 (6 hours).
SCARLETT is also available on audio tape. It was published
by Books on Tape, Newport Beach, CA: 1992. 21 audio
cassettes, 1 1/2 hour each.
There is another audio version of SCARLETT by Simon &
Schuster Audio, New York, NY: 1991. (4 cassettes, abridged,
read by Dixie Carter)
|13. Translations?||Scarlett: Continuaci?n de Lo que el viento se llev?
Ediciones B, Barcelona, Spain: 1992.
Ssu-chia-li: Luan shih chia jen hs? chi
Shang-hai i wen ch?u pan she ch?u pan fa hsing, Shang-hai:
Scarlett: Margaret Mitchell Elf?jta a sz?1c?mu reg?ny?nek
Eur?pa K?nyvkiad? Budapest: 1996, 1992.
Kyowon Mun?go, Soul: 1994, 1992.
Scarlett: a continua?ao de...e o vento levou de Margaret
Editora Record, Rio de Janeiro, RJ: 1991.
Skarlett: prodolzhenie romana Margaret Mitchell "Unes?nnye
Obshchestvo s ogranichennoi otvetstvennost?iu "Sirin,"
Moskva: 1996, 1992.
Hijemmets Bokforlag, Norge: 1993.
Shinchosha, Tokyo: 1992.
P?iao, hs? chi
T?ai-wan Chung-hua shu ch?, T?ai-pei shih: 1991.
Scarlett: continuaci?n de Lo Que el Viento se Llevo
Circulo de Lectores, Colombia: 1991.
Scarlett: continuaci?n de Lo Que el Viento se Llevo
Ediciones B, Barcelona: 1993.
Rossella: il seguito di Via col vento di Margaret Mitchell
Rizzoli, Milano: 1991.
Scarlett: pokracov?n? Jihu proti Severu M. Mitchellov?
Na?e vojsko, Praha: 1992.
Iskarlit: idamah-?i barbad raftih
Alburz, Tihran: 1992.
Scarlett: ciag dalszy Przeminelo z wiatrem Margaret Mitchell
Atlantis, Warszawa: 1991.
P. Belfond, Paris: 1991.
Hoffman und Campe, Hamburg: 1991.
|14. Serialization?||SCARLETT was published by Reader's Digest as a condensed
novel in Reader's Digest condensed books: volume 2, 1992.
1st edition. Pleasantville, NY: 1992.
Reader's Digest also published SCARLETT as a book in 1991.
Pleasantville, NY: 1991.
|15. Sequels or Prequels?||SCARLETT by Alexandra Ripley is the sequel to Margaret
Mitchell's 1936 epic novel, GONE WITH THE WIND.
The first edition was published by the Macmillian Company
in New York, on May 31, 1936.
Works Cited for assignment #2:
Publisher's Weeekly Vol. 238 No. 29-43. July-September 1991.
Publisher's Weekly Vol. 238 No. 44-45. Oct. - Dec. 1991.
Publisher's Weekly Vol. 239 No. 1-11. Jan.- Feb. 1992.
Publisher's Weekly Vol. 239 No. 12-20. March-April 1992.
Publisher's Weekly Vol. 239 No. 21-34. May-July 1992.
All Publisher's Weekly's were published by A Cahners/R.R.
Bowker Publication. 1991 or 1992.
|Assignment 3: Brief Biography|
| Alexandra Ripley was born Alexandra Braid on January 8,1934 in Charleston, South Carolina. She was the only child to a middle class insurance salesman father and a hospital administrator turned shop owner mother. As a child, "Sandra" was encouraged to play piano and knit, but never to read because "reading wouldn't catch you a husband," (PEOPLE, October 7, 1991). She was instructed in the typical Southern rules for little girls, "do not interrupt, speak unless spoken to, or get dirty," (Current Biography Yearbook 1992, p. 475).
Alexandra Ripley attended an exclusive finishing school in Charleston called Ashley Hall from grades one through twelve. Besides attending regular classes, she was forced to endure such teachings as learning proper deportment, how to sit down while wearing a hoop skirt, and how to achieve good posture by practicing walking up stairs with a book on her head. After graduating from Ashley Hall, Ripley attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. She received a scholarship for college from the Daughters of the Confederacy because her uncle, Archibald, died of dysentery while fighting for the Confederates in the Civil War (LIFE). After her freshman year of college Alexandra's parents told her that their financial status was not good enough for her to both finish college and have a debutante party, so she had to choose between the two. Much to her mothers' dismay Alexandra chose a college degree over her coming out party (Washington Post). She graduated from Vassar College in 1955 with a Bachelor's Degree in Russian (Contemporary Authors).
In 1958, Ripley married her first husband, Leonard Ripley, who was either a stockbroker (LIFE) or a small record company owner (Washington Post). The couple lived in Italy for a little while, and then in New York. They had two daughters, Elizabeth and Merrill, before they got divorced in 1963, and Ripley moved herself and her daughters back to Charleston. Her writing career began in Charleston in 1963 where she would ghostwrite papers for neurosurgeons. After a few years, Ripley decided to move back to New York where she got a job as a manuscript reader for a publishing house in which she eventually became the publicity director (Current Biography).
In the early 1970's Ripley grew tired of reading other authors' works, and decided to resign from her job and write novels herself. She had written her first novel as a student at Vassar, but was displeased with it and tore it up. Ripley wrote and got published her second novel, Who's That Lady in the President's Bed?, in 1972. It was an unsuccessful novel about a woman President. After that Ripley wrote a couple more novels, but couldn't get anyone to publish them, so she moved back south (Washington Post).
This time Ripley chose Virginia as her home because rent and cigarettes were cheaper there, and she thought the countryside was beautiful. She rented a little house by herself, and got a job at B. Dalton bookstore. On a trip to New York, she had drinks with her former editor, who happened to mention that she was looking for a big Southern historical novel. This became Alexandra Ripley's big break. Her first historical novel was published by Doubleday in 1981. Entitled Charleston, it became Ripley's first bestseller (Washington Post). She was still working at B. Dalton when the book came out, and customers would get her to sign copies of her book as they bought it (LIFE).
1981 also proved to be a good year personally. It was the year that Ripley met her second husband at a party. Although the two were opposites in many ways, Ripley married John Graham, a University of Virginia professor of rhetoric later that year (LIFE). The couple is still married today, and lives in an 18th Century farmhouse outside of Charlottesville, VA (Current Biography).
After Charleston, Ripley wrote a sequel entitled On Leaving Charleston (Doubleday), which came out in 1984, and entered the bestsellers list ass well. By this time Ripley had developed a following, and within the next couple of years published several more novels, The Time Returns (Doubleday, 1985), Mortal Enemies in Fifteenth Century Florence (1985), and New Orleans Legacy (Macmillan (New York), 1987). It was during the writing of New Orleans Legacy that Ripley was approached about writing a sequel to Gone With the Wind.
Ripley received an unexpected call from her agent, Robert Gottlieb of the William Morris Agency in New York City. The William Morris Agency also represented Margaret Mitchell's estate, and when the authorization for a sequel was established in 1983, the search for an author began. Gottlieb was very confident in Ripley's ability to write a good sequel to GWTW because of her Southern background and her experience with historical romances. Ripley went to Atlanta to meet with Mitchell's nephews and their lawyers, and everyone hit it if well. Ripley was chosen as the author of the sequel to the most popular book in history in 1983 (Current Biography).
Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's GWTW was published by Warner Books in 1991. Ripley has also published two more novels since then, From Fields of Gold (Warner Books, 1994) and A Love Divine (Warner Books, 1996).
Works Cited for assignment #3:
Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 1999.
copyright 1999: The Gale Group.
Current Biography Yearbook 1992. Graham, Judith, editor.
New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1992.
LIFE, May 1988 v11 n6 p26(6). Dowling, Claudia Glenn.
Copyright Time Inc. 1988.
PEOPLE 36:48+ October 7,1991.
The Washington Post, September 25,1991, Wednesday,
Final Edition. Section: Style; Page B1. Conroy, Sarah Booth
(byline). Copyright 1991 The Washington Post.
| Many of the reviews of Alexandra Ripley's 1991 novel, "Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind" were very unfavorable. Most often reviewers found the biggest problem with "Scarlett" was simply that Ripley decided to write it in the first place. Many people, Margaret Mitchell herself included, were very much against a sequel ever being written to one of the greatest stories ever told. As Janet Maslin from the New York Times wrote in her review, quoting from Rhett Butler in "Gone With The Wind", "What is broken is broken - and I'd rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I live." Even though some people were obviously against the sequel to begin with, that did not seem to be the only problem with Ripley's book.
The general consensus concluded that while Ripley is not a terrible writer, she is also not on the same level as Margaret Mitchell, and therefore could not do Mitchell's characters justice in the sequel. The character most often criticized was Scarlett herself. As Maslin wrote, "Scarlett O'Hara isn't here. This book's heroine might have green eyes and a small waist and a habit of exclaiming "Fiddle-dee-dee," but she is no one Mitchell's readers will recognize. Ms. Ripley, bearing out suspicions that she was exactly the wrong writer for the job, has been telling interviewers that she never liked the original Scarlett and preferred Mitchell's noble, virtuous Melanie Wilkes. So she has devised a kinder, gentler, body-snatched Scarlett." Because of the apparently vast character differences some critics chose not to compare "Scarlett" to "Gone With The Wind" at all.
According to Molly Ivins from the New York Times Book Review, to compare the two novels "is both hopeless and embarrassing, the only fair question is whether "Scarlett" works as a historical romance comparable to the general run of the genre." Because so many critics believed that Ripley's portrayal of Mitchell's original characters was so different and widely hailed as bad, many critics chose simply to crucify Ripley as a writer, not just because of what she was writing.
J.O. Tate from National Review was especially cruel in criticizing Ripley's work stating that "the result of her efforts is a tour de faiblesse of ineptitude, incoherence, and unimaginative droning. What is missing from Ripley's two-and-a-half-pound doorstop, besides brains, heart, and guts, is any historical context, any psychological insight, any irony or tension." Other critics were slightly less awful stating things like, "Despite the helping hand of Jeanne Bernkopf, one of Manhattan's most experienced free-lance editors, "Scarlett" still needs a story stronger than girl chases boy. Ripley apparently understood what she was getting paid so well to do: write the book that was doomed from conception to be endlessly compared to the original. "Scarlett" is the South's new Lost Cause" (R.Z. Sheppard, TIME). Molly Ivins summed up the feelings of most critics in her concluding paragraph stating, "My best advice to GWTW fans is, "Don't bother." Of course, the combined weight of all the book reviewers in the universe has so far made not the slightest dent in the staggering sales of this seriously awful book. Still I promise you, you'll be really mad at yourself if you buy it. If you must, borrow it from a friend, skim the early chapters, read the Charleston part and flip through the pages of the Irish section until you find Rhett again. I have nothing against trashy books - I'm quite fond of good trash - but this is dreadful. Poor Margaret Mitchell. Poor Scarlett. They both deserved better" (New York Times Book Review). In fact, there were only a few nice reviews of Alexandra Ripley's "Scarlett" to be found.
One such review stated that "Ripley did her job far more effectively than the reviewers gave her credit for. The first 400 pages of "Scarlett" are a small triumph. Perhaps only dedicated GWTW aficionados will appreciate how painstakingly Ripley has tried to recreate the tone of the earlier book - with the welcome elimination of its "sho'nuff" dialect for the black characters" (Newsweek). Other than that quote, the compliments were few and far between. Although many critics might acknowledge one admirable aspect of "Scarlett", if that, the majority of reviews were simply bashing fests, intent on keeping the novel from the Bestsellers' list
Works Cited for assignment #4:
THE NEW YORK TIMES (on the web). Janet Maslin (byline).
September 27, 1991, Friday, Late Edition - Final.
NATIONAL REVIEW, Vol. 44 No. 5, March 16,1992.
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, Sunday, October 27, 1991.
Sections 6 (PP. 68-80, 7, 8, 10 pp.1))
Other Sources consulted for assignment #4:
TIME Vol. 138 No. 14, October 7,1991.
THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS Vol. 38 No. 21, December 19, 1991.
NEWSWEEK Life/Style Section; TV p.62
Harry F. Waters (byline). November 14, 1994,
United States Edition.
NEWSWEEK The Arts; Publishing; Pg.64
Jean Seligmann (byline). October 7, 1991. US Edition.
TEXTUAL-PRACTICE: "The Sins of SCARLETT."
Harriet Hawkins. Andover, Harts, England 1992.
Winter, 6:3, 491-96.
Virgo, and Other Databases.
|There was virtually no subsequent reception for SCARLETT because
it did not come out until 1991, and it hasn't really had enough
time to become a classic and get re-reviewed. There was some
stuff written about the made for TV version of SCARLETT, but all
the articles did was criticize the movie and mention that it was
based on the 1991 novel by Alexandra Ripley.
| SCARLETT: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND by Alexandra Ripley became a huge bestseller in the fall of 1991, and remained on the PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY bestsellers' list for thirty-one weeks, even with mostly unfavorable reviews from both critics and regular middle-America readers. How and why SCARLETT became such a huge success in the publishing industry despite many different complexities and obstacles is very unique. Perhaps the most peculiar reason that SCARLETT became a bestseller is because the novel seemed doomed from the very beginning. GONE WITH THE WIND being her only novel, Margaret Mitchell strongly opposed there ever being a sequel to her blockbuster hit, stating in her will that there should never be a sequel written to GONE WITH THE WIND by anyone after her death (TIME - October 7, 1991). Fifty years later, however, Mitchell's heirs did not have their great-aunts wishes in mind when they realized what an excellent money-making opportunity would come with a sequel, closure really, to the what has been called the greatest love story of all time. The only problem was finding a qualified author who was willing to go out on a limb and risk their reputation by probably enduring harsh criticism for writing the sequel. That is why Alexandra Ripley seemed like a perfect choice for the difficult task. Little known, but very hard-working, Ripley herself was a true Southern Belle with a knack for detail and research, and practically no reputation to ruin; the only place Ripley could go was up (LIFE - May 1988). Thus began the complicated and surprising journey of our trip back to Margaret Mitchell's South. The critics hated SCARLETT, but the public had mixed opinions. One fact is certain though. No matter how much a sequel to GWTW might have been doomed, anyone who ever visited Tara or grew to know Scarlett and her family, would never be able to resist another trip back into the epic story if given the chance. That is how SCARLETT: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND became a bestseller.
Even though Margaret Mitchell herself never wanted a sequel of any sort to be written to her 1939 epic bestseller GONE WITH THE WIND, when time was running for the opportunity of a sequel to be written, Mitchell's heirs decided to honor their own greed rather than her wishes. The idea being, that even the most devoted of Mitchell / GONE WITH THE WIND followers would break down and read anything that included Rhett and Scarlett as characters. Not surprisingly, the Mitchell heirs had come up with a multi-million dollar franchise that produced just the results expected. The Mitchell heirs had found a way to continue to maximize the profits from their aunt's only novel: a sequel. It was no secret that almost anyone who wrote the sequel would ultimately be criticized to death for accepting the job of recreating Mitchell's Antebellum South and unforgettable characters, so at least Mitchell's estate tried to find the most qualified, most true-to-Mitchell author they could find. The search for the sequel's author was almost as extensive as the famous search for the GONE WITH THE WIND film version's Scarlett (Washington Post - September 25, 1991).
Alexandra Ripley was finally chosen to be the author to challenge and endure harsh criticisms in order to produce a viable sequel to Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND. Although many peopled vied for the job, no one was working out very well. Fortunately, as it turned out Ripley and Margaret Mitchell's estate shared the same agency, the William Morris Agency in New York City. When Mitchell's heirs authorized a sequel to be written in 1983, Ripley's agent, Robert Gottlieb, mentioned Ripley as a perfect candidate for the job of author. He was very confident in Ripley's ability to write the challenging sequel because of her Southern background, her hard work ethic and great researching skills, and her extensive experience with historical romances (LIFE - May 1988). Gottlieb set up a meeting between Ripley and Mitchell's heirs in Atlanta, and the team completely hit it off (Current Biography Yearbook 1992).
Ripley, being a native Charlestonian, born and bred in the heart of the South, was an excellent choice. Ripley had already written a few novels, including best selling historical romance novels, CHARLESTON and ON LEAVING CHARLESTON. She had proven herself as an excellent researcher and narrator of the South, very necessary qualities in whoever would tackle the GONE WITH THE WIND sequel. Ripley handled the gigantic task well from the beginning, researching excessively and rereading GONE WITH THE WIND six times, studying Mitchell's characters and her writing style as best as she could. It seemed to Ripley that to some extent, Mitchell had left a door open for a sequel to be written, even if Mitchell didn't really ever want one written (The Washington Post).
Ripley took this opportunity to develop what would later be hailed as the very worst aspect of a widely acclaimed horrible book. Ripley decided to have Scarlett leave her comfort zone of Georgia, to venture out in search of her ancestors in Ireland, quite a strange turn from what many believe Mitchell would have done had she been around to write the novel. Ripley fiercely defended her decision though. Having researched extensively, Ripley couldn't find anything exciting going on in the South during this time period. In stead of writing about a boring place, Ripley began looking at other options and came across a reference in a book about "peasants in Ireland, burning barns and cutting cows' throats." Ripley then decided to go back to the GONE WITH THE WIND text where she found several references to Scarlett's Irish ancestors and Scarlett's general tie to her "Southern-Irishness", which led Ripley to believe that Mitchell might have sent Scarlett to Ireland eventually herself (The Washington Post).
Despite the subtle details Mitchell might have left about Scarlett and her Irish ancestry, there is no denying that the voyage Scarlett takes to Ireland in Ripley's sequel seems quite out of place for Scarlett. She was always one for a big adventure, but never to an unknown place without definite friendly neighbors, beaus, and good food and service to pamper her with. Not to mention the fact that besides just being weird for most GONE WITH THE WIND fans, the parts in Ireland are drastically less entertaining than reading about Scarlett O'Hara in Atlanta, Savannah, Tara, or even Charleston. The whole reason GONE WITH THE WIND became such a huge book is not all because of Rhett and Scarlett, but also because of the time and place that their love story occurred. There is something very romantic and intriguing about the Old South, and if those elements are taken away, then the story line definitely suffers.
The most entertaining, and widely hailed as the best part of the novel was the beginning portion where Scarlett actually chases her lost love all around the South, landing finally in Rhett's hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Just like Mitchell's Scarlett, Ripley's new, more sensitive and independent Scarlett still knows how to get the men, working every feminine charm she has to get just one more night with the dreamy Rhett. Ripley actually does a very fine job with the transition from GONE WITH THE WIND to SCARLETT, picking up exactly where Mitchell left off. The continuing saga of Scarlett O'Hara is totally believable at first, and remains a delightful little trip into Mitchell's Scarlett Land until Scarlett and Rhett get ship wrecked.
Most critics had a problem with this point in the novel too, stating that the ship wrecked love scene was way too super market romance-like, and not at all like what Mitchell would have ever done (National Review - March 16, 1992). There was only one big passion scene between Rhett and Scarlett in the sequel, and it is terribly cheesy, not at all passionate and gripping like the love scenes between Rhett and Scarlett in GONE WITH THE WIND. If the passionate scenes are taken out and replaced with a sensitive, kind, and likable Scarlett who doesn't seem to possess that fiery passion anymore, and the background of the beautiful Old South is replaced with a poverty stricken, war-torn Ireland, readers are obviously going to lack enthusiasm for the story. Eventually it becomes blatantly clear that there are some drastic changes from Mitchell's novel, and that is very difficult to deal with being a huge fan of the original story. The biggest change that critics noted however, was that the title character, Mitchell's heroine, Scarlett, was not at all the same character and that really made the sequel of her story hard to believe.
One critic wrote that the most disappointing aspect of Ripley's novel was that "unfortunately as the novel progresses, it's title character - one of the most willful brats in the history of fiction - matures into a kinder and duller person" (Maclean's - October 21, 1991). Another critic was much crueler in her criticism of the book, and especially the character of Scarlett. Janet Maslin wrote extensively on the differences between Mitchell's Scarlett and Ripley's Scarlett, comparing Mitchell's Scarlett to strong modern day women like Madonna or Becky Sharp, while Ripley's Scarlett is more like "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" star Jane Seymour. "Scarlett O'Hara isn't here. This book's heroine may have green eyes and a small waist and a habit of exclaiming "Fiddle-dee-dee," but she is no one Mitchell's readers will recognize. Ripley has devised a kinder, gentler, body-snatched Scarlett" (The New York Times - September 27, 1991). This same reviewer had equally horrible comments about Ripley's Rhett and Ashley, stating that Ripley turns the "swashbuckling Rhett Butler into a mama's boy, and the once dignified Ashley Wilkes is now 'emitting the cry of a soul in torment, filled with loneliness and fear'" (The New York Times).
These are the differences from Mitchell that Ripley displayed in her writing techniques that caused so many critics to go crazy with disgust for the novel. Ultimately, many people were very excited about being able to continue looking into the lives of Rhett and Scarlett, but they all wanted it from Mitchell's eyes. That was Ripley's biggest flaw: she is not Margaret Mitchell, and therefore could not write the sequel exactly as Mitchell would have done. Although this is not at all Ripley's fault, the critics destroyed her just the same. The tragedy of the experience is that if not for Ripley, there might not have ever been a sequel written, and a bad sequel is almost better than none at all because at least people can spend more time with the characters if they want to. Ripley did the absolute best that she could have. Her writing style might not be as grand as Mitchell's but Ripley certainly did above and beyond the call as far as research and work for the novel go. Besides Ripley's shortcomings, though, the novel did become a bestseller, and many different aspects contributed to that.
One huge reason the novel became a bestseller despite less than favorable reviews is because people couldn't help themselves from reading it. The story of Rhett and Scarlett is just too much fun to resist, no matter who the storyteller is or how weird and non-enjoyable the story. Even die-hard Margaret Mitchell fans who felt bad about there being a sequel against her wishes were somewhat excited about another chapter in the lives of America's most exciting couple. The publicity and speculation surrounding SCARLETT was huge. Everyone had something to say about the novel. Many people loved to hate SCARLETT, but nobody could resist spending their time and money reading and discussing the long-awaited sequel. The novel was actually somewhat scandalous, in true Scarlett O'Hara fashion.
Just like Scarlett herself, SCARLETT: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND was showered with an enormous amount of attention and publicity. SCARLETT was promoted on radio and television, and advertisements were posted in almost all of the major magazines. SCARLETT made television and radio news at dawn on the day it was released it was so popular. Alexandra Ripley made numerous publicity appearances on morning news and talk shows, and toured all over the country going to bookstores and signing copies of her book once it was released. The hoopla surrounding this book was ridiculous. Everybody was anticipating the release, even if many people were against the sequel, or had already predetermined that it was going to stink, they were still anxious and excited to see exactly what the sequel to the grand story of Scarlett O' Hara was all about (Publisher's Weekly - September 1991).
Before the release date, the novel was promoted by huge campaigns all over the globe. Almost every country in the world jumped on the SCARLETT bandwagon and bookstores everywhere eagerly signed up to sell thousands of copies. Many stores even opened their doors at midnight on September 25, 1991 so that people could buy the book at the very exact time that it was to be released. Just to name a few major cities that went all out, Paris and London had some of the most extensive and impressive release parties in the world (Publisher's Weekly - October 1991).
Paris publisher Pierre Belfond paid a whooping $1,000,001 for the French rights to the novel, and held a September 24 evening launch in his bookstore complete with all the Southern fixins including barbecue spare ribs, fried chicken and brownies. Belfond even had copies of the book on hand so that he could hand them right out as soon as the clock struck midnight. In London, one bookstore opened at midnight to sell copies, and had Scarlett and Rhett look-a-likes on hand to entertain the shoppers. The next morning the hired look-a-likes were sent out to present review copies of the novel to morning news radio and talk shows. That night, Londoners even celebrated the highly anticipated release with a Scarlett Ball at the elegant Osberton Hall in Nottinghamshire (Publisher's Weekly - October 1991). With all of this publicity all over the world, SCARLETT: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND was sure to become at least a big selling novel.
There was just too much hoopla surrounding the sequel to the biggest blockbuster novel hit of all time to keep SCARLETT from becoming any thing less than a bestseller. There was scandal because the original author never wanted a sequel written, interest because the characters were some of the most famous literary characters of all time, and tons of time and money spent on publicity to promote the novel. Even though many critics and fans were disappointed in the sequel, everybody was curious about the novel, and that caused sells to skyrocket and launched SCARLETT onto the Publisher's Weekly bestsellers' list for thirty-one weeks. What does SCARLETT say about bestsellers in general? Well, it obviously says that the actual quality and brilliance of the author and story don't necessarily have to have anything to do with a novel becoming a bestseller. Sometimes it's all in the publicity campaign and in this case the interest of the public. Not to mention that if not for Margaret Mitchell herself, and the brilliant novel that she wrote more than fifty years ago, none of the success of SCARLETT would have ever been possible.
Works Cited for assignment #5:
Current Biography Yearbook 1992. Graham, Judith, editor.
New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1992.
LIFE, May 1988 v11 n6 p26(6). Dowling, Claudia Glenn.
Copyright Time Inc. 1988.
MacLean's, October 21,1991. Young, Pamela. (byline).
Copyright 1991 MacLean Hunter Limited.
National Review, March 16, 1992. Vol 44 No 5. Tate, J.O.
The New Tork Times (on the web). September 27, 1991, Friday,
Late Edition - Final. Maslin, Janet. (byline).
Publisher's Weekly. Vol 238 No 29-43. July-September 1991.
A Cahners/R.R. Bowker Publication, 1991.
Publisher's Weekly. Vol. 238 No 44-45. October-December 1991.
A Cahners/R.R. Bowker Publication, 1991.
TIME, October 7, 1991, Vol 138 No 14. Sheppard, R.Z.
The Washington Post. September 25, 1991, Wednesday,
Final Edition. Conroy, Sarah Booth. (byline).
Copyright 1991 The Washington Post.
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