Stephanie Meyer’s Unforgivable Insult to William Faulkner

Since incredible people like das mervin take time out of their busy lives to analyze the Twilight series with fine tooth comb and point out every–fucking–flaw and every–fucking–bit of sexism, I won’t go into those subjects. Instead I will point out one unforgivable that has rarely been discussed, one that I have a personal connection to, and one that needs really needs to be brought to light.

Bella is the ultimate Mary-Sue. Yeah. What the hell else is new? In the beginning of Twilight, here is one of many paragraphs that solidifies that fact.

“It was fairly basic: Bronte, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Faulkner. I had already read everything. That was comforting…and boring. I wondered if my mom would send me my folder of old essays or if she would think that was cheating.”

Faulkner.

Meyer thinks…Faulkner is fairly basic. Faulkner.

Faulkner.

Just…just read this sentence. That’s all. Just…read while I get my bearings.

“and, his father and Uncle Buddy both gone now, one day without reason or any warning the almost completely empty house in which his uncle and Tennie’s ancient and quarrelsome great-grandfather (who claimed to have seen Lafayette and McCaslin said in another ten years would be remembering God) lived, cooked and slept in one single room, burst into peaceful conflagration, a tranquil instantaneous sourceless unanimity of combustion, walls floors and roof: at sunup it stood where his uncle’s father had build it sixty years ago, at sundown the four blackened and smokeless chimneys rose from a light white powder of ashes and a few charred ends of planks which did not even appear to have been very hot: and out of the last of evening, the last one of the twenty-two miles, on the old white mare which was the last of that stable which McCaslin remembered, the two old men riding double up to his sister’s door…”

That sentence literally goes on for another page before you see a period. And it may not seem too complex at first glance but try retaining important details after reading an entire story with this stream-of-conscious style.

This particular passage comes from “The Bear,” a short story in a collection titled Go Down Moses, and considered one of his greatest achievements. It is renowned for its themes and for being so damn complex. My professor told us that she makes sure to reread it twice every time before she teaches it to another class. And when it was time to take the test, almost half the students in my class didn’t show up. Okay, we could all skip one test no penalty, but they didn’t even try. Out of all the stories we studied it was “The Bear” that half my class decided to skip.

And Stephanie Meyer, you are trying to tell me that a seventeen-year-old girl has read Faulkner so many times that he’s BORING!?

Of course, the Twitards will say “But she doesn’t specify what Faulkner story was on the list! You don’t know it’s “The Bear!”

Of course she doesn’t specify. She’s just name-dropping so she can pompously puff herself up and say “I know who these people are and you probably don’t! Aren’t I just the smartest little cookie? WHY AREN’T YOU PRAISING ME!?” (1)

And I’m not even going to go into the complexity of Chaucer or Shakespeare (took a Shakespeare summer course too and “No Fear Shakespeare” was the only reason I got a “B.”) But Meyer is famous for dumbing down classics in her books in order to make her characters look better/smarter. Bella constantly rereads Wuthering Heights just for shits and giggles and has Romeo and Juliet all but memorized. Isn’t she a genius!?

xXx

1. YAB: Mary Sues – What is a Mary Sue? Part 3

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17 responses to “Stephanie Meyer’s Unforgivable Insult to William Faulkner

  1. Oh my god, you are so right! How ever did I miss this? Faulkner is one layered author and Shakespeare? While I find the English difficult, boring it ain’t. Yes, Meyers set us up – that one paragraph is designed to make Bella look so smart that even Faulkner is boring – in her opinion. This is describing the character without info dumping. It’s a technique and an effective and insidious one at that.
    Although I must admit I never ‘bought’ Bella as particularly intelligent…just bored and boring. And ungodly angsty/whiny.

  2. As much as I hate to admit it, I am one of those people who went through Twilight to find every bit of stupidity. Yes, Meyer has seriously insulted some great authors in her books. The biggest “eff you” to classic literature, though, has to be in New Moon. The whole book is pretty much a rip-off of Romeo and Juliet. I wish I was kidding.

  3. I don’t know – I’m far from being a Twilight fan but what I like about Meyer is that she writes being a teenager so well. Ok, not all teenagers are the same, so I’m speaking from my experience and my mates experience & through the prism of being more than a decade on and able to laugh at myself. And that’s the thing about being a teen. Life is SERIOUS. Love is forever – apart from that sneaking fear that yeah you want to be with your beloved forever and ever and would like literally DIE for them but God, imagine if he was the only guy you ever kissed and you would rather die than do anything so déclassé as be a teen bride. One of my fave

    • (sorry sent prematurely)

      One of my fave bits is where Bella is hot keen to sign up for immortality, totally ready to jettison her mortal ties for True Love but freaks at the idea of marriage. Well it’s just so uncool isn’t it? She’s so annoyingly teen that she’s wonderful. She’s that bit of you you’re embarrassed to read about when you look back at your diaries ten years on.

      The Faulkner reference is part of that wonderfully realised cringingly annoying teenness

      • (sorry again – stupid iPhone, clumsy thumb)

        I think with the reference she’s not trying to make Bella look smart, she’s trying to make her look teen. Bored and unimpressed like only a teen can be. I know I affected those airs, I see my nieces do it now. It’s one of Twilight’s strengths. The control freak hero… Not so much. But that’s another story.

      • I respectfully disagree with your opinion, Meg. Meyer is a terrible writer and Bella is not just “annoyingly teen,” she is beyond selfish, stupid, manipulative, whiny, and dysfunctional. Some teenagers are like that sure, but definitely not the average teenager. The “average teenager” does not throw herself off cliffs or provoke men into raping her and one of her friends just to get her boyfriend to notice her. If that was the average teenager, then I would become a misanthrope.

        Thanks for commenting!

  4. Bella is a dullard. I haven’t read YA fiction since my own teenage years until I picked up the first Twilight book to see what all the fuss was about. Makes me worry that what I thought was worth reading back then was no better than this complete cowpat of a book. Goodness me.

    And playing down Shakespeare, Bronte, Chaucer and Faulkner…bad move. I guess she thinks the same of Tennyson, Twain and Dickens. It doesn’t make her look smart, it makes her sound like a know-it-all teenager, the kind that actually hasn’t read any of the greats she’s talking about. The kind of teen who always has something better and more shocking to say after someone else speaks.

    Yawn. I didn’t even get to the end of the first book.

  5. ^^ at a prior comment: Wait, so it’s possible to provoke someone into committing rape? So it’d’ve been Bella’s fault if she and her friend got raped? That’s interesting. Cause I usually think it’s the rapist’s fault. You know, for raping people. As opposed to the person being raped.

  6. I agree more with Meg. I enjoyed the books. Few people will admit that now because of all of the bashing. But I also was frustrated with the writing. I often felt like throwing it across the room. And I would get annoyed at the Bella character at times because of the way she is. I would think: hey young girls read this, what an awful message. But at the same time, I couldn’t put it down. Maybe it was the forbidden love aspect. I don’t know. But there was something about that story that resonated. Bella didn’t come off as a super smart person. Like Meg says, most teens are always bored and cynical. Stephanie Meyer majored in English, so it’s not surprising to me that she would mentions Faulkner. Writers write what they know. Usually. She is also a Mormon. Not bashing Mormons at all, but they have that way of thinking. The women-are-the-weaker-vessel type of thinking. I know a lot of women, well educated women and strong women, who tell you privately that they liked the story too. That they couldn’t put down, even though the writing wasn’t that great. So anyway. my two cents.

  7. I’m a proud Twilight fan, but I see the point here.

    I would also like to thank my American Literature teacher from high school, the late Tom Gerencher, for not inflicting Faulkner on me and my classmates. Pages without a period? B*tch please – how pretentious do you have to be to think you get a run-on sentence pass?!

  8. This is so interesting. A friend of mine is taking a college English course at Pepperdine, with a focus on YA fiction. Rumor is they will be discussing Twilight, I am SOOOOO showing him this blog! Because people that I know that trash well written books, loved this poorly written rubbish. So, chances are some twihard will be in the class ;-P

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