When I read that Twilight author Stephenie Meyer has announced the release of the book Midnight Sun which will be the story of the first book in the series with the good-looking vampire Edward Cullen as the narrator it took me back to circa 2008. It bought back a very intense feeling. I messaged at least have a dozen women friends, who were my co-conspirators in buying, reading, discussing these now ill-famed books and watching the movies. And all of them had almost the same reaction, is this for real? Honestly, none of us imagine ourselves buying and reading this book. We have indeed come a long way in how we read our books now.

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Some of us had even downloaded the then leaked manuscript chapter of the said novel. We clearly had two groups Team Edward and the Team Jacob, who cared about what the hell happened to Bella! I had Jacob Black as my wallpaper for the longest time. And I kid you not, a random female co-traveller in Delhi Metro had stopped me to ask if Edward Cullen was safe at the end of book two. She had spotted me reading the book three on my way back from work. Such was the buzz around the series then. You can say I was in the wrong company, but still, a lot of women my age were swearing by this series. It did capture the public imagination. This is what popular literature is supposed to do, it catches the imagination of a large part of the public. During my graduation days, I was taught that everything that is classic today was popular literature in its hay days. But a classic stands the test of time, and that is what sets it apart.

A random female co-traveller in Delhi Metro had stopped me to ask if Edward Cullen was safe at the end of book two. She had spotted me reading the book three on my way back from work. Such was the buzz around the series then.

Bella came from a broken family whereas Edward and his family stood for all the old-world family values of being their together, reading the other person’s mind, helping each other out, knowing what to say. Edward Cullen in the first book had something very Mr Darcy-ish about him. Also, it didn’t help that Robert Pattinson aka Cedric Diggory got to be the Hero here. Cedric’s death was so unjust.

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The biggest criticism I have come across over the years has been that Bella Swan, the protagonist, has low self-esteem and Edward Cullen uses that to control her often crossing the boundaries which hurt our millennial sensibilities. Several people have raised concern that this kind of relationship should not be modelled as romance for a teenaged readership. Recently, I read an article where the author says she read the Twilight series as a 13-year old and found everything about it sexist. I was not a teenager when I read this series first but I was definitely less self-aware. Today, women draw boundaries in every relationship and these remain largely non-negotiable and I wish them more power in such decisions. And those powerful women are the kind of characters we are trying to look for in the fiction we read.

The biggest criticism I have come across over the years has been Bella Swan the protagonist has low self-esteem and Edward Cullen uses that to control her often crossing the boundaries which hurt our millennial sensibilities.

I had a very involved relationship with this series, it was a completely different stage of my life and remains special to me. However, with the wisdom I have hopefully acquired in the last decade of my life, do I want to get into a man’s mind to read a romance? The answer is no especially when I am reading stuff like the Bois Locker Room in the news. However, in popular literature classes, we were also taught never to judge a book by its popularity alone. Let’s see what happens when the book hits the stands.  

PC: Tyla

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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