Category Archives: The Art of Literature

Is this real…or is it fantasy? Our society’s battle between fact and fiction

I’ve never claimed to be a fan of fantasy literature. For some reason, I have always associated the fantasy genre with science-fiction or those novels with the really glossy covers and the silver lettering. I know you know what I’m talking about. But thinking about it lately, it truly is difficult to pinpoint what exactly constitutes fantasy literature. Twilight could definitely be considered fantasy seeing as how it deals with several factors of the supernatural, along with a fantastical romance. And I won’t deny that I’m a fan of that. Alice in Wonderland could also be classified as fantasy. Where in the real world does a hookah smoking caterpillar or a mad hatter who has had too much tea, exist? Wonderland is a fantasy world that can only be found in a dream, which is really what a fantasy is. But how far are we taking these so-called fantasies and how far would we go to make them a reality? Are we delving so far into a fantasy world that we are beginning to lose sight of what’s right in front of us?

Let’s just take the Twilight series for example, since it is a prime one. With the introduction of Edward Cullen into the literary world, the male race no longer stands a chance. I cannot tell you the number of girls I have run into who say they wish their boyfriend was more like Edward. A fictional character has every teenage girl in today’s society completely snowed. What happened to wanting a man to be more like Mr. Darcy? At least that’s a little more reasonable. And I almost fainted when I saw a news story the other day talking about the new way kids these days are choosing to show affection. Kids are BITING each other on the neck and on the arms, just like vampires. What is this world coming to? I’m a huge fan of Stephanie Meyer’s work, but this has gone far enough. I have always believed that reading a book is like taking a journey and becoming one with that book. But when you finish the last page and put the book back on the shelf, that particular journey is over and you move on to another one. Don’t dwell on the past.

I just recently finished reading The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, which is probably one of the most fantastical books I have ever read, aside from journeying through Carroll’s world. This story is the ultimate journey. Not only does the main character delve into a fantasy world within the plot, but the reader rides along with him on Falkor, the luckdragon, through the world of Fantasia. Even though he is hiding in his school’s attic reading, Bastian becomes an integral part of the fight to save Fantasia from being destroyed by the Nothing. The Nothing represents people’s lack of imagination in the real world and seeks to tear apart any idea of fantasy. A friend of mine who also just read the book explained it to me in a way that I had never pictured before. He said that the book goes so much deeper into the imagination than the movie does and relies on the value of hidden dreams in order to bring out someone’s true character. But just like Bastian, our society today, predominantly the younger generation, have ceased to accept the line between fantasy and reality, which gives their relationship with books a whole new meaning. People now rely on books like this to completely take them away from their real world woes. And while that is what a book is meant to do, society has taken too much of a reliance on fantasy and expects their lives to read just like a story. And as much as I wish Bella Swan’s story was my own, I know it’s just not meant to be.

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From Nosferatu to sparkling love triangles: Has the vampire lost its fear factor?

I have always been a huge fan of Gothic literature, especially such dealing with vampires and the occult. No, I’m not constantly brooding in a corner dressed in all black coming up with a list of people to bite. I just find the history and the legends behind vampires absolutely fascinating. The concept of a vampire in itself is just mystical. Just imagine a creature of the night who feeds on the blood of humans. Sleeping in coffins in great big castles in the middle of the day.  I mean come on! That stuff’s just great! But ever since media sensations such as Twilight, and even with food brands such as Count Chocula, the gory and gothic image of the vampire has diminished into nothing more than a glimmer, or in this case, a sparkle.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the Twilight series. It has been a weakness of mine ever since the first book came out. I’m not afraid to admit I’ve dreamt of being loved irrevocably by Edward Cullen. But the hardest thing for me to swallow about these books has been the image they give of vampires. I’m used to reading Bram Stoker’s bloody detailing of snarling beasts, ravaging desire, and dark rituals. I’m accustomed to watching Bela Lugosi and Gary Oldman tear through flesh and step out of a creaking coffin once the sun goes down behind their towering castle.

But when Twilight came along, these vampires didn’t even hunt humans. They came out in the daytime and when they were exposed to bright sunlight, they didn’t melt or burst into flames, but rather, they started sparkling like diamonds. They lived in a house made of glass and they drove fast cars. They were your typical rich kids that you envied in high school. And the weirdest thing, they were all romantically involved within their “family.” Granted, none of them were technically related, but still, it was just too strange. I understand that Stephanie Meyer was catering toward a younger audience and that the gothic image of the vampire may not have suited well with most readers or their parents.

But because the Twilight series has been so explosive, the image of the true vampire has been chocked back to the old dusty shelves at the library in that one section where no one goes. You know you’ve seen one. People are no longer reading the original Bram Stoker or Anne Rice novels that depict a much darker creature than the ones portrayed in the media today. Most people don’t know the name Nosferatu anymore and would probably say “bless you” if I ever mentioned it out loud. It makes me sad that centuries worth of both history and folklore have been washed away all because of a pale heartthrob who will love you forever.

People are no longer afraid when they watch a vampire movie. They expect to see him start kissing the leading lady and to whisk her off into the sunset in his shiny new Volvo. I remember not sleeping for weeks after seeing Coppola’s movie version of Dracula. My sister shares my passion for vampire-lore and used to watch this movie all the time. The downside: She’s 11 years older than me so she watched it while babysitting her 7 year old sister. I wouldn’t even go near the VHS because the cover was so scary (oh yes the VHS days…remember those? I feel old now). But once I hit junior high, I was finally able to watch it by myself and was completely immersed in it. Yes, I was still jumpy at parts, but that’s the whole point of a horror film. Vampires are meant to be scary creatures. Even werewolves are meant to strike fear in our hearts, and now people expect the beast to transform into a tall, dark, and handsome with washboard abs. Where’s the fun in that?

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