In the last decade, no other book has caused a greater division among its readers than Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. For every enthusiastic member of “Team Edward” there is an equally enthusiastic subscriber to Reddit posting images of Kim Kardashian and her 72-day husband with the caption “Still A Better Love Story Than Twilight.”
The naysayers have a point. The book is simplistic. The characters are shallow, the symbolism heavy-handed, and the language repetitive. But despite all this, I, like millions of other readers, found myself actually enjoying the book. So the question is, despite all of the eye-rolling and face-palming, why did I enjoy reading Twilight?
In Roland Barthes’ The Pleasure Of The Text, Barthes analyzes the pleasure of the intellectual text, discussing the source of our pleasure in texts by authors like Zola, Balzac, Dickens, and Tolstoy. And in some ways, this is cheating. It is easy to talk about the pleasure of the text when the text is something that is widely considered pleasurable. But there is pleasure to be found in books that aren’t high-brow, that aren’t intellectually simulating, that many people don’t even consider good. What can be made of the pleasure we get from popular fiction, like Twilight, and how is that different than the pleasure we derive from unraveling the Joycean text?
This blog will address this question over the course of this semester. My goal will be to update about three times a week. Once on Monday to discuss how our weekly readings relate to the pleasure of Twilight, once on Thursday to analyze people's reactions to Twilight, and once over the weekend to link to and discuss experts’ opinions on this subject and subjects related to it. Although, these are rough estimates, as I will go where my research takes me.