As the old saying goes, never judge a book by its cover - or at least without having first read the book.
Attorneys for the estate of Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell went to court Wednesday to stop publication of Alice Randall's new novel, The Wind Done Gone, saying it borrows too much from Mitchell's novel, The Associated Press reports.
The book, narrated by the daughter of a white plantation owner and a black woman, includes phrases and settings from Gone With the Wind, AP reports. The physical description of one of the characters matches that of Scarlett O'Hara, the heroine of Mitchell's novel, AP reports.
Lawyers for Houghton Mifflin, the publisher of Randall's book, said the book is a political parody that has a right to be published, that it revisits the world of a famous book, and it does not violate copyright law. The novel depicts 19th century Southern plantation life from a black viewpoint.
"There is no evidence that publication will harm Gone With the Wind, Joe Beck, who represents publisher Houghton Mifflin, told Reuters.
Randall was making a political comment on freeing slaves and their relation to the American South, he said.
"Alice Randall's novel falls into within the definition of parody, and it's therefore fully protected by the First Amendment and consistent with established copyright law," Wendy Strohman, a Houghton Mifflin executive vice president, said in a statement released Wednesday.
The new publication will appeal to black and other readers who were troubled by the Antebellum South portrayed in Mitchell's novel, Strohman told Reuters.
Twenty authors, including To Kill a Mockingbird's Harper Lee and The Bluest Eye's Toni Morrison, last week released a statement defending the novelist.
Morrison expressed concerned about the case, saying Gone With the Wind caused "pain, humiliation, and outrage" to mainstream Americans.
"Now it's the time for the American public to hear another perspective" on plantation life, she said.
U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell said he might rule by late Friday, Beck said.
The Wind Done Gone is scheduled to be published in June.