In her essay on Margaret Mitchell and Gone With the Wind, Claudia Roth Pierpoint writes:
The much remarked “readability” of the book must have played a part in this smooth passage from the page to the screen, since “readability” has to do not only with freedom from obscurity but, paradoxically, with freedom from the actual sensation of reading [emphasis added]—of the tug and traction of words as they move thoughts into place in the mind. Requiring, in fact, the least reading, the most “readable” book allows its characters to slip easily through nets of words and into other forms. Popular art has been well defined by just this effortless movement from medium to medium, which is carried out, as Leslie Fiedler observed in relation to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, “without loss of intensity or alteration of meaning.” Isabel Archer rises from the page only in the hanging garments of Henry James’s prose, but Scarlett O’Hara is a free woman.
Well put. I wish Pierpoint would come out with another book. But I think this sort of book is out of fashion nowadays. There are zillions of uncollected book reviews and literary essays that I’d love to see in book form (the hypothetical collected reviews of Anthony West, Alfred Kazin, and many others) but it seems like it won’t ever happen.