Friday, January 02, 2009

On Being Literary

So I recently read the entire Twilight Saga. Yes, all four books. Indeed, the well over a thousand pages. And I did this within a week. 

I tell people I read the books in order to be able to bash them, which is kind of true, but it is also true that I read them because I really wanted to know what happens to Bella and the Cullens. Usually, I pride myself on not reading 'unliterary' material. I like to think I read good books, which at the same time are good literature, and deal with things worth dealing with. Still, I read all of the four books in the series termed 'a gripping vampire love saga'. This title alone would normally be enough to keep me far, far away. In reality, I was actually secretly reading, while my husband was talking to me, and also when I was on the toilet. And I never do the latter. 

Initially I wanted to read the books, because I could see all my American friends listed as reading them on their facebook profiles. Also, South African dstv simply does not compare to the television I had gotten so used to, the Mexican Sky. Thus, I've really been reading a lot in SA. Long story short, when the books hit SA, I bought the first one and after finishing that one in a day, I bought the last three the following day. I actually had to go to two different bookstores to get the last three. Desperate, huh? 

"What is so wrong with these books that she has to gripe about them on her blog?", Edward murmured, or possibly Bella cringed. Repetition, total flatness of the characters, and unimaginative expression aside, my real issue with the saga is that the books are mainly meant for, and widely consumed by teenage girls. Hence, the books are not simple bubblegum for the adult brain, but they are in fact moulding the minds of this often very susceptible, young audience.     

I read some of the Twilight reviews that commented on the books teaching abstaining from premarital sex, and while I think this is not a horrible message to pass onto any teenage girl I severely disagree with the way the books convey women as behaving in their marriages, or any male-female relationships for that matter. I simply hate the fact that a potentially strong, intelligent, self-sufficient, and confident protagonist is made into a cooking, cleaning, clumsy, constantly-in-need-to-be-saved-by-the-men-in-her-life, never-smarter-than-a-man rag doll, who is never satisfied with herself, and doesn't think education is worth anything. This is my problem with the books. This is my problem with me reading these books. The books should immediately incite a snarl or a hiss from me, or at least make me cringe, not read in the toilet. 

I guess this post is me snarling, hissing and cringing. Hope this makes me feel better. Soon.   


Just a Girl said...

I agree with you on most of your points. Literature is something I have only recently (in the past 5 years) discovered that I enjoy. I am no scholar (only have World Literature under my belt) and will admit that I probably don't have a clue. But even I can see that these books are not healthy for young, influential teenage girls. I agree that the bulk of the reading was monotonous and the characters could be quite boring at times...with the exception of one. Edward. I can't help myself. I was sucked in. Oh Edward, glorious, Edward. I feel like a silly, hormonal teenage girl...but I love it! Go ahead, you can throw up now. ;)

Extranjera said...

Well, I was sucked in exactly like you were and read the whole friggin' thing. I have no special love for Edward though...

My name is Erin. said...

I have not read the Twilight saga. I probably will someday. Like on a beach or with my book club. Just kidding. I have two small children. My relaxing days at the beach mostly include building sandcastles and making sure no one drowns. And I'm not in a book club. Though I wouldn't mind one, if I had time to read besides on the toilet. I used to never do that, either. (Too much information, I know) It took me a long time to jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon. I waited until the last book came out. Then I finished the entire series in a frightening short period of time. My daughter actually cried once when she watched me pick up the book for thousandth time. It was like crack. I was neglecting my family.

I used to read things like the Unbearable Lightness of Being. I've had a bookmark in a Ivan Ilytch and other Tolstoy short stories for months now, with only 2-3 pages read. I have no time to "think" about what I read anymore. It's so sad.

I did read Naked by David Sedaris over Christmas break. That was nice. I miss reading.

Extranjera said...

Erin - Since you have limited time, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT get sucked into this here vortex. These books are sneaky... You get drawn in... It's awful, and I'm still searching for a proper support group.

Thank Zeus for other bandwagons to hop on.
And making sure nobody drowns is a worthy task.