Twilight of the Twilight Idols: Or How I Learned to Stop Moping and Love the Sun

OMG I’m so excited for the final Twilight movie–not because I want to see it, but because I’m anxiously awaiting the vampire blood bubble to burst. It’s not necessarily an issue with me that the Twilight series is so popular, only that it’s given birth to this whole new breed of literary hangers-on. Go to just about any major book store and check out the shelves and you’ll see dozens of new books that popped up seemingly out of nowhere featuring fey, anemic vampires and vague covers featuring shadowy objects with titles like “Blood Moon: Love Harvest” or something silly like that. There’s two reasons this poses a problem in the book market: 1. The bubble is sure to burst. Sooner or later, we’ll have so many vampire books we won’t want to see another one anywhere. Then all the books churned out during this trend will start populating bargain shelves until they’re thrown away. 2. Since sexy vampire novels are what’s in right now, publishers are glutting the market as much as possible and are looking for more vampire novels to sell while it’s still in style. This poses a serious obstacle to any authors trying to succeed on their own terms. The thing to remember is, it’s these original writers whose books will continue to sell once the vampire trend returns to the dust.
The other thing is, I find the whole idea of creating a culture around the vampire mythos to be objectionable. I’m not trying to sound puerile, but do people not see what the original Dracula story symbolized? It was written near the end of the nineteenth century, a time when women’s whole livelihood frequently revolved around who they wed. For a well-off man looking for a bride, it was important to know she hadn’t slept with another man. So what does Dracula suggest then? He’s the ultimate blackguard, a man who seduces women with no intention to wed. He leaves bite marks on his victims (hickeys). Afterwards, the women are his slave (meaning they’re tainted from other suitors). They’re left with a life of prowling the streets in the dark (“women of the night”). Now, as a story I wouldn’t call this objectionable, but I certainly wouldn’t call it the basis for romance either.
Now onto Dracula the book itself. This is one of the few books that I seriously believe doesn’t belong in the Western canon as a classic. A lot of people lump it in with the classics because it’s old and they’ve heard of it. Here’s a few examples of other books from around the same time we call classics: Great Expectations, Picture of Dorian Gray, The Wings of the Dove. If you look at an extensive list of classics, the one recurring theme is that these are books that featured a humanistic idea at the core. Dracula closer represents a movement in the opposite direction towards provincial superstition and old stereotypes.
For a classic book, it’s also not written terribly well. It’s written in the style of an epistolary book (story told in correspondences) which slows the action tremendously. The epistolary style had been out of fashion for decades by the time the book came out, and the gothicism that characterizes the book had run its course by the end of the romantic era. Does it really need to be revived in the present day?
Although the popular book market’s so gloomy right now, I look forward to the day the sun shines on literature again.


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