Whirlwind controversy


Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2001

After reading Alice Randall's viewpoint on the hullabaloo surrounding her novel, "The Wind Done Gone," in Sunday's Empire, I feel compelled to provide background information clarifying Randall's motivation behind penning her editorial.

"The Wind Done Gone" is being publicized as a parody of "Gone With the Wind" told from a slave's perspective. According to Publisher's Weekly, the novel was slated for publication in June until the SunTrust Bank, the trustee for the Mitchell estate, filed a copyright infringement suit against the book's publisher, Houghton Mifflin. The suit charged the novel is an unauthorized sequel laced with plagiarism.

An injunction issued by Judge Charles Pannell blocks further distribution or publication of the novel. But if "The Wind Done Gone" is a parody, it mandates protection under the First Amendment's right to free speech.

Houghton Mifflin has appealed the case, but a court date has not been set.

Three words at the core of this legal dispute are parody, plagiarism and sequel. Their definitions, as stated by the American Heritage Dictionary are:

Plagiarism: To steal and use the ideas and writings of another as one's own.

Parody: A literary or artistic work that broadly mimics an author's characteristic style and holds it up to ridicule.

Sequel: A literary work complete in itself but continuing the narrative of an earlier work.

Sans ridicule, the definitions of plagiarism and parody could connotatively be construed as the same. Unfortunately, I cannot provide an opinion on whether "The Wind Done Gone" is adequately laced with ridicule of "Gone With The Wind" to deem it a parody without a copy of the novel. But I can postulate that the retelling of a story concurrent with the original is not a continuation of that story, and therefore should not be considered a sequel. On these grounds, "The Wind Done Gone" should waft onto bookstore shelves amid the whirlwind of controversy it has created.

Danette Mae-Nugent


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