Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga was not a phenomenon. No one seemed able to explain it, not even Meyer or the actors. Actually it is fairly easy to explain if you know the structural template and genealogy of the Tristan and Iseult Legend from the 12th century. I keep trying to do that in detail and cannot seem to get there, so here is another piece of it.
Courtly Love or Cortezia came to flower in the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, first with her marriage to Louis of France and then to Henry II of England. She took her troubadours to England with her where they continued to spread the poetry and songs of Courtly Love. In these midieval times knights were rough and ready for war and women. They married for property and advancement and dowries and love was not much thought about, only copulation. Knights pledged allegiance to a Lady (under the secret influence of Catharism against Rome) who was already married, and troubadours sang songs of a Lady's beauty, purity, grace, and goodness known throughout the land.
The knight was probably already married also or betrothed when he pledged his allegiance to his Lady. This involved a long ritual of watching her, sleeping outside her door, jousting with her favor displayed, eventually sleeping on the floor outside her room and ultimately sleeping with her in his arms - many many months of discipline, both of them naked. This is the practice of akesis. There is no consummation, just desire ever increasing on his part and we don't know about the women. But we can guess from Meyer's Twilight that it must have awakened passion within her, since chastity is involved. A genealogy of chastity from the 5th century shows that it was originally a technique of increasing passion. We go to chastity belts which have not been perceived as the erotic garments they were, focusing sensory awareness on the lower part of the woman's body. Surely these woman must have become very aroused and there are instances surmised of transgressing against the rules of the ritual. So when parents of the conservative persuasion insist on chastity, particularly in their daughters, they are insisting on a practice that ensures the flaming of erotic desire which they do not acknowledge.
Transgression is another part of this. Since the woman was married in all cases, she was off bounds. Think Lancelot the Knight, Queen Guinevere and King Arthur. Transgression led to punishment, banishment and/or death. Guinevere, one variation tells, was banished to a leper colony.
In YellowBella's DUSTY, Transgression is doubled. Bella is 9 and Edward is 11 when they meet the first day Bella attends her new school in Forks to begin 5th grade. She immediately makes friends with Alice Cullen and they become best friends right away. So her tender age is a boundary here as her feelings for Edward begin to flower and his for her. Begun in innocence Edward's oncoming puberty becomes a conflict for him and for her. Both are underage, so we have a huge transgression, especially in our prurient provincial times. But the transgression is doubled as she is his sister's best friend, stays overnight all the time and has begun to be loved and thought of as another sister and another daughter by Carlisle and Esme.
So here we come to "psychological incest" as Edward has started thinking of her as his little sister, which slowly changes, and becomes entwined in his feelings of possession and protection. We have the long akesis of sleeping together and the secrecy involved. The secret adds another layer of transgression between them increasing their erotic feelings.
Transgression: age; psychological incest; secrecy.
Transgression is another needed ingredient in Cortezia. There are others but we need not go there now. But two of the most important are in place in DUSTY. The long akesis of guarding and sleeping with the love object and the now triple transgression to heighten erotic desire to the level of Passion Love/Death. It is the intensification of the passion that is the true desire of the two lovers, not consummation in the Legend. This Legend has ruled Love in the Western World - and the western world only - for 800 years with its rituals of love, courtship and marriage until the 1960's ushered in THE PILL. But its template continued unabated beneath the surface and it seems Meyer tore the scab off and released it with Twilight. Is it any wonder then that it was such a fantastic outpouring of polarizing feelings?
Only the young girl Emily Bronte in Wuthering Heights and Wagner in his opera Tristan and Isolde do not shrink from the true desire for becoming one forever in DEATH.
There is no doubt that DUSTY is erotic, but those erotic feelings are triggering deep seated taboos: underage sex, incest and secrecy. Is it any wonder that DUSTY arouses such polarizing feelings?