La sonrisa de Rhett Butler
Aunque entre la película Lo que el viento se llevó y la novela de Margarete Mitchell hay muchas diferencias, algo que se mantuvo en las dos versiones es el misterio que envolvía a Rhett Butler, en la película extraordinariamente retratado por la sonrisa cínica de Clark Gable. Muchas secuelas oficiales y no oficiales han aparecido en EEUU de la célebre historia, pero una que acaba de aparecer recientemente, titulada Rhett Butler’s People y escrita por Donald McCaig, intenta explicar el origen de esa sonrisa, "rehabilitar" al personaje y desenmascarar el misterio de Rhett para mostrarlo igual que cualquiera de nosotros. La pregunta es: ¿Por qué? ¿Qué puede estar pasando por la cabeza de McCaig para intentar hacer algo así y malograr el efecto más logrado de la novela y de la historia del cine norteamericano? Aunque este es un blog para recomendar libros, obviamente recomiendo NO leer éste. Stephen Carter, quien hace una reseña para el NYT, no lo dice tan tajantemente pero estaría de acuerdo.
Dice la nota: "But mostly his goal is to rehabilitate Rhett. The Klan question, the woman he dishonored, the rumors of a bastard in New Orleans, the money supposedly pilfered from the Confederate treasury — all of this McCaig explains away while keeping the story moving at a nice clip, faster even than the original. Or perhaps one should say the “stories,” because McCaig’s novel, as the title suggests, weaves interlocking tales of different people whose lives and Rhett’s were intertwined. We meet, among others, his beloved sister, Rosemary; his boyhood Negro friend Tunis; and his schoolmate Andrew, who becomes a Confederate war hero. We learn more about Archie, the frightening, violent, racist ex-con who works for the sainted Melanie in Mitchell’s novel and does not exist in the film: he, too, turns out to have a past connection to Rhett. Perhaps his ending is a bit predictable, but the power of Mitchell’s climax would be difficult to match. McCaig pierces the mystery in which Mitchell shrouded Rhett Butler. He gives Rhett a life. We begin to understand where he came from, and why he was the way he was and did the things he did. McCaig discards Ripley’s cumbersome tale and invents fresh lives even for the characters necessarily common to both sequels. The new story has its own integrity. It makes sense. And yet McCaig’s Rhett, for all that he becomes a plausible character, is perhaps not an entirely plausible Rhett. Or rather, even if plausible, he may not be the Rhett we need. Rhett’s charm in the original novel (and in the film) stems precisely from his dashing mystery. Neither we nor Scarlett ever quite know what is going on behind that mocking grin, and our inability to define him draws us to him. He surprises and impresses us because we never can guess what he is going to do next. McCaig’s Rhett worries. He aches for Scarlett, is wounded by her tantrums and her indifference, and confides his fears to his sister. By stripping away the veneer, McCaig transforms Rhett into a version of the angst-ridden, on-the-make, love-struck antihero of modern fiction: Rhett Butler as channeled by Rabbit Angstrom or T. S. Garp. Is this really the Rhett we want? Donald McCaig’s fine novel is not an hommage. In reducing Rhett to a perplexed and worrying Everyman, McCaig reduces the power of Mitchell’s original. Readers adore the enigma that is Rhett — because he is an enigma. Probably that was Mitchell’s intention: to persuade us to love the world that would produce a man like Rhett. McCaig insists that Rhett is actually a lot like everyone else. That’s why, after finishing “Rhett Butler’s People,” it may be impossible to read “Gone With the Wind” in quite the same way.