Twilight’s Two Apples

On October 6th Little, Brown Books released the 10th Anniversary edition of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, which included a special bonus: the novel rewritten and gender-reversed, with Edward now Edyth, and Bella now Beau. The bonus was born of the author’s desire to show the story as truly universal and that the gender of the protagonists did not matter, in response to crticism of the original narrator’s tendency to be a moon-eyed damsel in distress.

I have not read either one, Twilight being in fact on my to-read list; but let’s examine the covers the Little, Brown chose for each one and see what they code.

twilight cover and life and death cover, by stephenie meyer

Red apple, green apple; on the surface both are pretty sweet (sorry for the pun) and a great example of series branding.In the first one, note that the female offers the apple, symbolic of temptation and loss of innocence, somewhat tentatively. The use of both hands cupping it implies it weighs heavily on her, that it requires more than the usual effort to hold.  Alternatively, she might be cupping it to protect it, like it’s her virginity. We can’t see the rest of her body, but she is holding it with arms lowered at the level of where her genitals might be. For someone to take it, the recipient must come close and bend low — an intimate position.

The male hand, in contrast, boldly holds the apple as if he were freely offering it to someone. There is almost a dare in it. He holds it away from his body. If it was given to him and he accepted it, he might be holding it at arm’s length, weighing and appraising. He might pitch it away in a second, or  take a bite. He might also be boasting of his possession of it. In any case, his ownership, offer, or acceptance are all active and decisive.

The typeface of Twilight is curving, slightly baroque, while the typeface used for Life and Death — a far more florid and ambitious title — is more modern and techno. The red apple implies sweetness and juiciness; the green, tartness and zest.

Not too hard to guess that the stories inside do indeed differ according to gender’s protagonist, and how, right?

2 comments

  1. Speaking as one of the few people who will gladly defend the Twilight series, I was surprised to find this book at Barnes and Noble and I will also be reading the “role reversal”. I kind of wonder if 50 Shades of Gray being told by Gray’s point of view came before or after this retelling, but I digress.

    Since you haven’t read Twilight yet, I’ll refrain from throwing in any two cents that would be considered spoilers. But after you’ve read them both, do you intend to write a review based on both? If so, I look forward to reading it.

    1. I still have to read Twilight as part of my cultural education homework, and as such it’s something that tends to be work rather than pleasure. I’ve read others’ reviews and crits of the series, of course, some good, some bad, over the course of the 10 years it has been out, but I can honestly say I will be trying to keep my mind open. Thank you for commenting!

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