Spotlight: A Close-Up Look at the Artistry and Meaning of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga By John Granger

    I first discovered John Granger due to his analyses of the Harry Potter series. He has a shrewd and learned eye regarding literature and delves deeper into underlying symbolic meanings better than anyone else I know.
 He has now taken his formidable talents and trained them upon the Twilight saga.

    He describes how conscience and free choice is the underlying theme of the series. He not only uses his own arguments in analyzing the text to come up with that conclusion, but he includes excerpts of interviews with Stephenie Meyer that back up his claim.

    Reading John Granger's work is never a passive affair. He challenges your underlying assumptions as well as your intellect. While I do not always agree with all of his points, he makes me consider things I would not otherwise and for that I am grateful.

    Granger introduced me to the topic of literary alchemy. He takes what seems like an arcane and trivial subject and demonstrates why it is not only important, but how it triggers an unconscious response in readers.

His writings on this subject have not only helped me recognize these patterns when they appear in literature, but to understand their underlying meaning.

    While it is uncertain if Meyer made deliberate choices of including literary alchemy symbolic elements or if they were incidental, Granger explains the impact of these patterns on the narrative.

    Granger also spends a lot of time examining the influence of Meyer's faith has on the series. These books may not seem to be the Great American Mormon Novel, but Granger argues that to understand the literary choices used by Meyer, you must first understand how her faith influences her worldview.

    One example is Granger's argument regarding the naming of the character Rosalie Hale as being a pointer to the first wife of the founder of the Mormon Church, Emma Hale Smith. He includes other examples of how some seemimgly minor details are instead carefully constructed choices used either to defend or to criticize the history and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints by Stephenie Meyer.

    Granger provides an in-depth analysis of the Twilight series and is willing to go beyond mere plot points to understand the scaffolding involved at creating what is widely recognized as being a literary phenomenon. He argues passionately that the success of the Twilight series is not a fluke, but because there is great substance behind the story. 9780982238592 I've forgotten how heady JOhn is...this will take me a while to read through. Thanks, John ;-) 9780982238592 Interesting and informative. A bit too many repetitions. 9780982238592 Rounded up. 9780982238592 With my final project at University looking at teen sensations and their portrayal/traits of heroines, and a few surrounding issues, I knew the Twilight saga was going to be a big part of that. But, I decided to be as balanced as possible, and felt this was the way to do it.

    And now I'm done, I can only concede a few things to his book. First, I would broadly say that Meyer couldn't write strong female characters to save herself, but my mind has been changed by this:

    Look at the three Cullen women. One was beaten an abused by her husband so badly that she was driven to despair and suicide. .Another was raped by her husband-to-be and his pals on the street and left to die there. .The third was locked up in a mental home because she was different - with the family going so far as pretending she was dead to restrict the shame of her existence.

    If anything, the Cullen women have the traits of being survivors. They've had traumas in their past, tried to throw it all away, and are strong enough to move on and survive. (Fun fact: he later refers to them as marginalized freaks and damaged goods.)

    My issue is Bella, because she is the one you're supposed to root for and sympathise with, but she - regardless of literary analysis - is weak, submissive and throws her life away for a pretty face.

    The book is interesting, but I found myself frustrated with the religious lines drawn in every instance - Edward is Christ. Bella is Christ-like. I'm not religious at all, but I can appreciate reasonable comparisons based on Meyer's faith, but it felt like the slightest potential link would be stretched to suit whatever he wanted to say.

    The Mormon section of the book seemed not to be taken seriously by Granger because, as someone else noted, he uses almost exclusively non-LDS sources. He even cites 'Mormonism for Dummies' as one of his primary sources. Really?

    Spotlight has definitely altered certain sweeping comments that had been rearing their head in my research, and it was interesting to see a lot of themes and influences, but a lot of the time he was presenting his own views for pages on end as something Meyer crafted, then to throw in a quote of her that says she had never crafted any of it.

    I know, intention doesn't necessarily prove or disprove meaning or techniques, but I felt like an undertone was to prove it so hard to the critics that he slapped it on a little bit thick.

    I do think he focussed on mainstream critics, battling the ideas of teen romance (personally, that's never been an issue for me), but completely skimmed over some of the deeper-rooted criticisms of Bella and Edwards relationship - domestic abuse, you say?

    So, I would say it's definitely been informative in terms of my project and offering balance to some of the criticisms levied at Twilight in my research and interviews with people, but not when it comes to Bella or the relationship.

    If you hated Twilight, you might find yourself surprised with some of the book's ideas. If you loved Twilight, you'll probably enjoy looking deeper into the saga. 9780982238592


    John Granger ã 5 Summary

    Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga has taken the world by storm. The four novels that tell the paranormal romance of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen are international bestsellers that readers everywhere are discussing and re-reading again and again. But WHY are the books so popular? Critics have dismissed them as Harlequin trash and literary junk food but book lovers obviously disagree. Is there more to Twilight than a love story for teen girls crossed with a cheesy vampire-werewolf drama? . . . . . John Granger, author of Unlocking Harry Potter: Seven Keys for the Serious Reader, explains in Spotlight the literary backdrop, the themes, the artistry, and the meaning of the four Bella Swan adventures. Twilight readers will learn here: * Why the Book Covers are Black, White, and Red; * How Edward Can Read Thoughts and the La Push Wolf Pack Can Have a Shared Mind; * What Influence the X-Men, Night of the Living Dead, and Plato's Republic had on Twilight; * Why the Volturi live in Italy and Hate the Cullens' Lifestyle Choices;* Why Bella's empty chest is mentioned thirty seven times in New Moon; * Why so many Key Twilight Saga Scenes take place in Mountain Meadows; * What Role the Quileute Protectors play in Meyer's Re-Telling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet; * How Carlisle's Birth in Sixteenth Century London Explains Why the Cullens are Vegetarians;* Why the James and Bella Confrontation in Twilight takes place in a Ballet Studio; * Why Jacob and Edward are described consistently as Bella's Sun and Moon; and * Why Books and Films about Bella Swan and Harry Potter are such Blockbuster Hits. . . . . . Spotlight unveils layer-by-layer the meaning of the books and the artistry of their composition so Twilight lovers can see how the books work and why we love them the way we do! Spotlight is the only book that explains Twilight-mania and is the perfect gift for serious Twilight readers wanting to learn why the books they love are so good and have become as popular as they are. Spotlight: A Close-Up Look at the Artistry and Meaning of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga

    Let's just say I'm glad I finished this book in October! Granger has a lot of theories, most of which are just coincidental, and many of the LDS Mormon theories are just way off to the point of being scary, let alone untrue! (Hence the October reference!) I wanted to finish reading it though, because I wanted to hear his take on the Mormon insights he claimed to make. But I ended up being very disappointed in his wild and outlandish theories. He made some good points at the beginning of the book. But he was very wordy and that distracted from the points he was trying to make. My main takeaway was that he prompts us to break through the stereotypical approach to judging a book. He asks us to ask ourselves why society gets to tell us whether a book is considered literature or not, especially if everyone loves it! Otherwise, like I said, I was actually disappointed in how this book turned out because of all the conspiracy theories he puts into how and why Stephenie Meyer wrote the Twilight books. Especially since Meyer herself claims that there's no basis to his insights. They're still just his wild fantasy theories, nothing more. I had wanted to read his Harry Potter book too, but now I'm second guessing as to whether it's actually worth my time or not. 9780982238592 John Granger's exploration of the Twilight series worked for me. I finally got around to reading it after reading Midnight Sun and found the exposition to be doubly rewarding. The first half applies Granger's iconological critical approach that he originally applied so well to the Harry Potter books and demonstrates how Meyer layers the four levels of meaning in traditional English literature to produce the literary alchemy she intends to induce in the reader. The second half then explicates that Meyer's target transformation is the conversion experience of a gentile to becoming a Latter Day Saint, though it is applicable to every person's experience of finding transcendent meaning in life.

    I found the LDS material particularly illuminating since I had the usual non-Mormon awareness and attitude toward LDS history. Like the Book of Mormon musical, Spotlight finds the foundation story questionable, but respects the deeply lived and felt faith of the Saints themselves. With respect to the Mormon vs Christian controversy, the book points beyond both to the perennial Tradition that undergirds both.

    Grange is what I would call post-progressive in his attitude to the postmodern critical hegemony of interpretation currently holding sway in academia. He acknowledges its power, but also sees its limitation and blind spots. Having a strong addiction to the traditional schools, he struggles to find a way to include and transcend the past despite his respect for both Meyer's and Rowling's ability to write anagogical texts in the postmodern world. I think he wants his reader to see their efforts as a restoration of old norms dressed up in new-fangled attire rather than what I believe they are: post-progressive creations that shows how the alchemical values of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness are still available to us as trans-rational aspects of our post-rational world. 9780982238592 To those who think Twilight is just paranormal/YA trash: neener, neener. Granger takes readers through the many different layers of Twilight and shows that there is much more in them than sparkly, cute boys. Literary alchemy, anyone? Very cool stuff.

    My only difficulty with the book is in the second half where Granger shows how Stephenie Meyer's religious beliefs influence her writing. I agree with most (though not all) of his conclusions, but what left me disappointed was the obvious lack of respect in his writing about that aspect of the Twilight Saga. Granger used non-LDS sources almost exclusively in explaining LDS religious beliefs which seemed odd to me. I would have thought that if he wanted to understand how religion influenced Meyer, he would have tried to understand that religion as she understands it to better show how it is reflected in her books. And the snarky tone? Not professional.

    Overall, though, a very interesting book. 9780982238592 In this book Mr. Granger uses Plato's cave allegory to explain why we like certain books...Twilight included. Very enlightening! :smile:

    Mr. Granger then explains about the four layers of interpretation:
    Surface, Moral, Allegorical, and Anagogical.

    Quote from pg 21: Do you blush when you talk about reading Twilight? You don't need to. The folks looking down their noses at Young Romance fiction have missed the substantial meaning at the surface, moral, allegorical and anagogical layers that Mrs. Meyer has deliberately stacked in and with no little artistry. As you'll soon see, the Forks Saga is not magisterial in language or composition; but its romance, Eden allegory, story of soul's seeking and transformation or apotheosis is as engaging and ennobling as any of the Greats and far more accessible. :end quote:

    The Part Two of the book is called Twilight as an LDS Midsummer Night's Dream and goes into the Mormon influences of the book. Some interesting points made in that section with regards to the naming and backgrounds of certain characters. 9780982238592 This books offers a critical reading of the Twilight series, and in so doing sheds some light on the meaning and artistry buried in the surface story, but quite often it also reads like the academic blithering of a narcissistic intellectual.

    Granger offers an interesting lens through which we can tease out hidden meaning from Twilight. He suggests we critique it using iconological criticism, something he associates with how medieval texts are interpreted, which were primarily religious. He chooses this method because he repeatedly asserts, via Mircia Eliade, that reading serves a spiritual or mythic purpose in a largely secular world; it takes us out of ourselves and into something broader or larger. And this text in particular, he argues, is really a morality play about our relationship with the divine. In a nutshell, Edward is the God-man, and Bella is willing to risk everything to enter into a divine relationship with him. I'm not sure I agree that we have to go that deep into Twilight, but he seems to be having fun dredging the depths of literary criticism to apply esoteric tools to this text.

    Iconological criticism, according to Granger, is a way of looking at a text in four layers: surface (our perception of the story; plot), moral (our opinion about the story), allegory (the stories within the story), and anagological meaning (the symbolic or sublime meaning that we grasp subconsciously and that works on a spiritual level).

    He also refers to something called literary alchemy, which I found very hard to get my brain around and for which he doesn't offer much to do that. Indeed, a common complaint about Granger is that some of these interpretive tools don't seem to have any foundation outside of Granger's own work. In general, the first half of the book lays out his method more than it attempts to explain the text.

    The second half of the book is about how Meyer's Mormonism influences her story. This is an interesting section and plenty of it is aha, okay, I could see that but there's also a lot of information here that seems to be reaching for meaning. As with any criticism, the meaning we pull from a text via criticism may not map to the author's intention.

    On a purely mechanical level, he has trouble matching his chapter titles to his chapter content. For example, in an early chapter titled Why We Love Bella he lays out his critical filter, giving us a lesson in iconological criticism instead of telling us why we love Bella. At another introductory point, when trying to argue that Twilight is in fact good literature, he takes a few shots at the established literary canon, making some indirect comments about how really good literature often suffers from poor plot construction and is often just an egotistical tromp by the author. Well, no. My favorite author is Paul Bowles with Steinbeck coming in a close second, and one of my favorite books is Hemingway's The Sun also Rises, all of which, according to this Granger argument about what constitutes good literature, would probably be defined as intellectual masturbation. However, I thoroughly enjoy all these texts on a surface/plot level and feel they are finely crafted works. I also love the Twilight series despite recognizing that they are not great literature. They are great stories but they are not the same thing as The Sun Also Rises, Grapes of Wrath, or The Sheltering Sky. I am a word person, working in instructional and technical editing and writing for several years and I expect words to transform and carry a story. They set the tone and tell so much by which ones are chosen and how they are used together. They are an immensely important writer's tool. Unfortunately, Meyer's Twilight lexicon doesn't resonant with forethought, it seems less chosen than whatever first came to mind; it's not crafted or poetic. Nonetheless, I think she constructs a good story, and that's what sucks us in here without the structure of a consistent voice or tone via carefully chosen language.

    I'm happy an academic like Granger has taken on the Twilight books, because obviously there is something to them. This isn't a Harlequin romance. Serious readers with sophisticated taste are getting sucked into them. This is what Granger calls the blush factor. We are devouring these books, but we don't admit it or are embarrassed by it. Additionally, because this ended up appealing to a female YA audience these books have been relegated to the realm of crap writing. As a previously female tween myself, I find it offensive that we dismiss adolescent girls from the cultural voice. So I read Granger's book to see what is going on beneath the surface; it does seem that we are identifying with something subconsciously in these books for them to have such ubiquitous, mass appeal. Nonetheless, Granger's interpretation is one of many we can apply. He chooses to use a religious lens to dissect this text because he sees the story as a spiritual one, a quest story for union with the divine. We could also interpret it primarily as a love story, or a teaching on male/female roles, etc. Granger dismisses other interpretations as limiting because they force us to see the text through our own unique biases and prejudices. Nonetheless, the stories are rife with gender roles and even racial stereotypes. I fail to see how a reading through those filters would disqualify an interpretation.

    Overall, I enjoyed Granger's book and felt it had some interesting and unique ideas about the series. However, I couldn't escape the feeling that Granger likes to wax academic for his own enjoyment. I think his book could've been stripped of a large part of its hefty jargon so readers could concentrate on what he's saying, rather than how he's saying it.