Lost Laysen by Margaret Mitchell
This is the ‘lost’ romantic novella Mitchell wrote for one of her beaus when she was fifteen (going on sixteen). Mitchell probably didn’t want this published since she dictated that all her personal artifacts, writings and original manuscripts be burned after her death. Furthermore, this was seemingly a gift between young friends and lovers.
This story is melodramatic. Three men are in lust/love with the main female character named Courtenay Ross. Billy Duncan, the hard fighting sailor and narrator/protagonist, is ardently in love with Courtenay. I’m not sure why, but I guess Courtenay has Scarlett O’Hara level of attractiveness that make men want to marry, love, or rape her in this story.
Reading this and Gone with the Wind reminds me how sheltered Mitchell’s life seemed to be. I often wondered when reading what her exposure to other ethnicities and non-Caucasian people were. There is some derogatory remarks about the Japanese in this story. Did she even meet a Japanese person when she wrote this? The antagonist and would-be rapist of the story is a “half-breed” who is half Spanish and half Japanese, but receives no dialogue in this story at all.
It is a bit unfair to critcise this novella too much since she didn’t intend for many people to see it. I do think it shows her promise as a writer. It is definitely much better than most high school short stories. I enjoyed the book not just for the novella, but mostly for the insight about Mitchell’s life in the early twentieth century.
Read October 23-24th 2012.
My Gone With the Wind review will be up on Margaret Mitchell’s birthday November 8th.