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No Happy Loves: Desire, Nostalgia, and Failure in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind

No Happy Loves: Desire, Nostalgia, and Failure in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind No Happy Loves: Desire, Nostalgia, and Failure in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind by Danielle Barkley In Love in the Western World, Denis de Rougemont claims that “happy love has no history” (15). Th is essay seeks to explore the converse: why do fi ctional portrayals of history seem to include no happy loves? Writing about the past and seeking to retrieve it through the mode of historical fi ction is essentially always an act of desire, refl ective of the longing to take the emptiness created by the loss of a time and place and fi ll it with an imaginative recon- struction. In that reconstruction, the desire for the past often becomes emblem- atized as desire for another individual. Aff ection for a lost world becomes the true object of textual desire, a lover fi gure for whom the actual lovers stand as shadowy substitutes. As such, intersubjective desire becomes marked by ambiv- alence and, ultimately, futility, with the impossibility of reclaiming the past forestalling the hope of any satisfying resolution. Fiction is always invoking desire. Peter Brooks notes that “narratives both tell of desire—typically present some story of desire—and arouse and make use of desire http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

No Happy Loves: Desire, Nostalgia, and Failure in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 47 (1) – May 29, 2015

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

No Happy Loves: Desire, Nostalgia, and Failure in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind by Danielle Barkley In Love in the Western World, Denis de Rougemont claims that “happy love has no history” (15). Th is essay seeks to explore the converse: why do fi ctional portrayals of history seem to include no happy loves? Writing about the past and seeking to retrieve it through the mode of historical fi ction is essentially always an act of desire, refl ective of the longing to take the emptiness created by the loss of a time and place and fi ll it with an imaginative recon- struction. In that reconstruction, the desire for the past often becomes emblem- atized as desire for another individual. Aff ection for a lost world becomes the true object of textual desire, a lover fi gure for whom the actual lovers stand as shadowy substitutes. As such, intersubjective desire becomes marked by ambiv- alence and, ultimately, futility, with the impossibility of reclaiming the past forestalling the hope of any satisfying resolution. Fiction is always invoking desire. Peter Brooks notes that “narratives both tell of desire—typically present some story of desire—and arouse and make use of desire

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 29, 2015

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