[DWJ] authorial intent [was: endings]

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Mon Dec 29 16:43:50 EST 2008

On Mon, 29 Dec 2008, Melissa Proffitt wrote:
> I've been meaning to ask how it went, teaching _Twilight_ to those students
> of yours.

It was ... *interesting*.  I never thought I'd have to say this
in a classroom, but I found myself telling them that their like
or dislike of this book was not something to be angry about.  We
talked about critical schizophrenia, how you can love a book but
find its representations of healthy relationships really
problematic.  By coincidence, Twilight week was three days after
the movie released, so the students who loved it were deeply,
madly passionate -- and the students who hated it were actively
angry at all the fuss. (I sit in the in-between realm where the
books frustrate me as an adult but I enjoyed reading them.
Well, the first three. Breaking Dawn was ... a different kind of
enjoyment for me. The laughing a lot kind.)

We read it with Mahy's _The Changeover_ (which they mostly
disliked, the silly moppets) and the contrast between Sorry and
Edward was fascinating to me and uncomfortable to my students.
It was tough, because I wanted the passionately in-love students
to be able to step back and say "Edward appeals in fiction for
the following reasons but that maybe doesn't correspond in real
life" and the passionately angry students to be able to see what
in the romance appeals to so many.  It was harder for them than
with any other book we read, I think, to be unemotional about
their responses.

But what they didn't come to was a comparison between Sorry and
Edward where they could see Sorry as representing a different,
less fanatastic kind of hero.  They thought him staring at
Laura's breasts was creepy, where I found it endearingly real (as
a teenager and as an adult).  If I teach it again, I might want
to give them some romance theory about contstruction of the hero.

> My latest encounter with _Twilight_:  a friend whose husband has recently
> discovered that he is gay was reading at least the first volume of the
> series as a metaphor for their relationship.  It seems to have given her
> great comfort.

Huh, interesting.  I'm glad it gave your friend comfort, although
I'd assume the "I can't live without you aspect" would be
difficult in such a time.  But good for her for finding comfort.
That's hard.

There were green alligators, and long necked geese
Humpty-backed camels and chimpanzees
Cats and rats and elephants, but Lord, I'm so forlorn
I just can't find no unicorn.		-- Shel Silverstein

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