kis·met \ˈkiz-ˌmet, -mət\ - noun; often capitalized
1. fate.
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"We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language.
That may be the measure of our lives." - Toni Morrison

"Growing up Southern is a privilege, really. It's more than where you're born; it's an idea and state of mind that seems imparted at birth. It's more than loving fried chicken, sweet tea, football, and country music. It’s being hospitable, devoted to front porches, magnolias, moon pies, coca-cola... and each other. We don't become Southern - we're born that way." - Unknown

09 December 2008

Harry Potter and Twilight: Canonical Status Worthy?

"Knowledge is power. Power corrupts. Study hard and be evil."

Finals have officially taken over my brain and turned it to mush. Prime example: Just a little while ago I attempted to say the word "shucks" and it came out more like "shuh-ki-s". Almost like a Monty Python pronunciation of "knights" but with the word "shucks". I'm so ready for finals to be over and done with.

Ok, my venting on finals is now officially over! Which brings me to an interesting subject discussed in my English class on Monday. Our discussion was on the literary canon and what should be included or not. My professor posed the question: "Should Harry Potter be a canonical text?" (She was met with a resounding "Yes!" from the class.) Similarly, she asked, "Should Twilight?" (She was then met with a resounding "No!") Now, the question at hand is Why? Is it because of the society we were reared in? Is it because we are hardened English majors, used to being exposed to the best of the best: the classics? The answer, in my opinion is once again, yes! Our society, believe it or not, has such an amazing influence on what we, as readers enjoy reading. Now to the debate over Harry Potter and Twilight.

Harry Potter, while not as esteemed a work as those by Milton, Doestoevsky, Homer, etc, holds its own prestige within our culture. Similarly, the Twilight series holds its own level of importance, but it just doesn't quite have the same caliber as something worthy of canonical status. I know that many may disagree with me; but in my opinion, the plot of Twilight is decent enough, but lets face it: those books are poorly written in comparison to Harry Potter or the traditional canonical texts. Read Heart of Darkness or Crime and Punishment and then tell me whether or not the Twilight series is a well-written quadrilogy. While Harry Potter itself hardly even compares to the loquacious beauty of text by Conrad or Doestoevsky, it reaches a higher level and
in my opinion, (and the opinion of my English class) is more worthy, of a canonical status. J.K. Rowling is just a better author than Stephenie Meyer. All of Harry Potter's loose ends were resolved in the last book. Yes, she kept you waiting until the very end for some of the resolution, but that's just it: Everything resolved itself. I even went back and reread things to try to find something that didn't conclude well. I couldn't find a thing. In stark contrast, Breaking Dawn left so many unended thoughts and ideas that it about drove me insane! Meyer had so many opportunities to make that plot great, but she built it up and then went nowhere with it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not completely bashing the Twilight series. Rather, I'm just stating that I don't think that they are as amazing as everyone says they are. Maybe it's just the English major in me coming out, but remember, the a fore mentioned classics, too, were written for the general population of the time: the common man.

3 comments:

lotusloq said...

I completely agree. I would never say that the Twilight series should be included in the canon of literature. They are just not literary enough. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy them immensely (until BD anyway which could have been way better edited and the loose ends tied per your description).

Here's the thing though, just because a book is enjoyable doesn't mean that it should go into the literary canon. Do we include Tom Clancy? or Louis L'Amour? I'm not saying that they are not great writers and that their texts won't endure, but I can't believe they would be included in the Canon of literary texts.

I'm not even sure that I would include the HP books. While they are much more literary than Twilight, I don't think of those as "literary" texts either.

In YA, I think of authors like Laurie Halse Anderson and Sarah Dessen and Shannon Hale as examples of more literary authors.

peace, love, and rock&roll said...

True, true. I agree. It's such a subjective thing as to which texts get into the canon or not. That was basically our discussion for the whole semester. There are so many elements to consider: like a "counter-canon" that would incorporate minorities and feminist literature. Another example is Chinua Achebe who wrote Things Fall Apart. He thinks Joseph Conrad is a "bloody racist" and wants Heart of Darkness and any other "racist" text removed from the canon. But who's to say what's racist or not? It's all subjective.....

And thus the debate continues forever. haha

lotusloq said...

Indeed!

There are some of the canon that I will never read again. It was painful enough the first time. (Conrad would fall in that category.) There are some commercial books that I can't get enough of and will read over and over. I think it's interesting how we seem to put a higher value on the "canon" books. Some of them are simply dreadful. Haha! Then again, some of them are the most amazing books ever.