01/04/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies
Buy Twilight And Philosophy: Vampires, Vegetarians And The Pursuit Of Immortality edited in the USA - or Buy Twilight And Philosophy: Vampires, Vegetarians And The Pursuit Of Immortality edited in the UK
pub: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 259 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: $17.95 (US), $21.99 (CAN), £11.99 (UK. ISBN: 978-0-470-48423-4.
If you thought spin-offs were limited to Edward action figures (they glow in the light instead) then be aware there is a whole industry that seeks to actually make you think about the 'Twilight Saga' in a totally different (twi)light. The series of books about popular culture now address the concepts and theories that form the backbone of the four of novels by Stephanie Meyer.
The book is divided into four sections and each looks at aspects revealed each book. There are four or five essays in each section and they attempt to address different points that are raised by character or plot aspects.
Many of the essays challenge the world view that is put forward as 'truth' looking at the characters of Bella, Edward and Jacob in particular as examples.
One of the primary beliefs throughout the novels is Bella's strong belief that she will be a better person as a vampire. The plots are structured to move her along this inevitable path. As a human, she is clumsy and vulnerable, her family a weak link in the chain of life. She wants to be better, faster, stronger and not on steroids.
Other vampire narratives are structured so that being a vampire results in something lost. TV's Angel yearns to be human and it is never Buffy's destiny or desire to join him in eternal life. Their ideal result would be being human. In 'Dracula', the undead are a threat both to life and the structure of Victorian society.
Different chapters look not only at Bella but how aspects of the vampire family are made appealing to the reader ('Carlisle: More Compassionate Than A Speeding Bullet?') Then there is the God question, always popular in philosophy. ('Vampire Dammerung: What Can Twilight Tell Us About God?') With constant reverences to the soul and the authors background in the Church of the Latter Day Saints, there is ample to chew on.
Speaking about chewing, how about Edward the Vegetarian? He doesn't eat humans but the local animal population might dispute his self-sacrifice as they flee for their lives before him ('Dying To Eat: The Vegetarian Ethics Of Twilight')
As 'Twilight' has become so much a part of popular culture for teen-agers, this book carves open its heart to examine what is good and what is fundamentally dodgy about its philosophy. Whether this is read by those same teen-agers is a moot point but it may well attract some and is a forum for discussion.
If you are a fan of the books or a philosopher or just want to try something different this book is a great way to address the big questions of life and the universe. Other books and TV shows have also been given this treatment and I look forward to getting my teeth into some more of these books.
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