Twilight - Stephenie Meyer, Stephenie Meyer Because I assigned this book in a course on the cultural and social constructions of "love," and because we're following the sociology of emotion's model of seeing culture as shaping and giving meaning and valence to emotions, I had a hard time reading this book other than through the lens of what does this say about "love" and "relationships." My family background of Mormonism also made me hyper-aware of the fetishization of virginity and the essentially Mormon idea of the eternal family being possible only with vampires. So assuming (with Helen Fisher) that there are three basic forms of love—besotted love (romantic infatuation), lust, and long-term attachment—and knowing the history of European notions of love and romance (especially the troubadours), it was hard to see anything other than a story that is so anxious about sexual consummation that it ends up conflating sex and love, contrary to its surface-level obsession with keeping them separate. It should be no surprise to anyone that Fifty Shades of Gray started its life as Twilight fan fiction, as the undercurrent of masochism is barely latent here.

Familiar themes of the romance arch—possession, obsession, and powerlessness—combine with familiar themes of horror—fear, violence, and threat—to create a fantastic notion of true love.

I think at the end—aside from having to lie in the dark for an hour or so to recover from brain poisoning caused by a week of bad prose—what I really wondered is why? What is the draw? This is a story in which real relationships with real humans are rebuffed and rejected in favor of eternal families with the undead; where love is defined as being possessed/desired by an uncontrollably violent male; and where the pleasure derives from the female power to tame that male (La Belle et la Bête?); but where the male might break free and kill you at any moment; where the young female is on the surface smart and self-possessed, but who for 400 pages obsesses over what every look and gesture by an aloof vampire might mean.

I have a sex-positive ethic, and am an outspoken advocate for alternative sexualities and experience, such as S&M. But something reads off, to me, in Meyer's narrative:

The S&M is only foreplay for marriage (in the 4th book) and has no meaning other than to elevate the eroticization of virginity itself and to highlight the romantic trope of love as redemptive.

edited for clarity and grammar.