Ahem. *takes out soapbox*
Today in my first class, Principles of Literary Study, we were having a conversation about what it is that constitutes a piece to be qualified as Literature. (With a capital "L.") My definition, which is similar to most of the other ones proposed, is this: Literature is a piece of writing that doesn't end when you stop reading it. It is, in two words, haunting and profound. It has a meaning that is deeper than the meaning of a flat and simple story. It is something that alters how you look at your life, and something that is well written, perhaps conveying its message through symbols or allegory.
One girl spoke up to say that there must be lines drawn on what is considered Literature, because there are some that would call Twilight Literature, and it is (and these are not my words) "the worst writing I've ever seen." Another quickly chimed in with similar disgust.
I was more than a little annoyed.
I am, yes, a hard-core fan, but even objectively it is clear that this series is nothing to scoff at. It, as well as series such as Rowling's Harry Potter, have literally saved a generation of readers. Plenty of young adults and children started to appreciate writing again because of these highly popular novels. They are certainly examples of writing at it's most powerful, if not its most complexly penned.
But to refer back to the definition, these books most definitely fit it. They tell a story which speaks to many young women of today's society. In this fast paced world of women's rights activists and the constant debate of a woman's place, it has become almost frowned upon for women to feel comfortable being housewives. This is a sad fact. While it is indisputabley wonderful that women are given the oppurtunity to explore any field they desire, it's a shame that homemaking is a skill and value that has become all but lost in American society. Meyer's series exhibits a strong female heroine who chooses, though she knows the stereotype she faces, to marry someone she loves at a very young age. This can be said to serve as an example, showing young girls that while they have numerous options they should not rule out this one merely because it is "old fashioned."
The novels are also a clear example of a "haunting" tale. They have gathered quite a following of dedicated fans and supporters, and are not easily forgotten. I have read the series no less than seven times and still find it fascinating. Meyer has a way of making readers fall in love with her characters that cannot be questioned. Even the young lady that complained about Meyer's writing style admitted that she was attatched to the characters themselves.
I cannot understand how a piece of writing nationally hailed as a great work of fiction, can be called "bad" writing. Saying it isn't to your tastes is one thing, but calling it all out "bad" is another entirely. It is true that Meyer uses a common voice, devoid of complicated metaphores and symbols, but this in itself is part of what makes the novels so compelling. The plot speaks for itself, not relying on flowery figures of speech to make its message clear. The beauty of the love in the books draws readers in. For evidence simply consult any best seller list or turn on any news station.
One might also remember that Dickens' style of writing has been complained about for years. It was his story-telling that kept his words alive, as he wrote his great works for publication in installments in a column. Also, in Dickens' day his speech was not all that uncommon. Sure, it wasn't exactly street lingo, but it was understood by the general public. Meyer's is the same. The language is simple enough for the average American to grasp, but isn't what one would call elementary either.
If, by some small chance, there is anyone out there who hasn't yet been exposed to Meyer's work, you can see her web page here.