Pan Macmillan, a publishing house based in London, has decided to affix a trigger warning to Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel. The book, which takes place in 1861, follows the story of Scarlett O'Hara, the daughter of a southern plantation owner, and her romance with Captain Rhett Butler during the Civil War.
The cautionary note at the front of the new edition of the book will warn readers that it contains "racist" themes that could be "hurtful or indeed harmful."
"Gone with the Wind is a novel which includes problematic elements including the romanticisation of a shocking era in our history and the horrors of slavery," the trigger warning states. "The novel includes the representation of unacceptable practices, racist and stereotypical depictions and troubling themes, characterisation, language and imagery."
Pan Macmillan noted that the new edition of Mitchell's novel would remain original. New editions of works from Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming were recently altered to remove potentially offensive passages with racial references.
"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," the cautionary note continued. "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."
Pan Macmillan added, "This does not, however, constitute an endorsement of the characterisation, content or language used."
The cautionary note affixed to the start of the novel was written by Philippa Gregory, the author of "The Other Boleyn Girl." According to the publisher, Gregory was chosen to pen the introduction because "we believed it was important that no author from a minority background should be asked to undertake the emotional labour of being responsible for educating the majority."
Gregory argued that Mitchell's novel "effectively promoted the racist planter view of the history of the South." She claimed it "defends racism" and "glamorizes and preaches white supremacy."
According to Gregory, "It tells us, unequivocally, that African people are not of the same species as white people."
"This is the lie that spoils the novel," Gregory adds.
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