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Home / Articles / Entertainment / Books /  A tweet look at the literary classics
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Monday, January 18,2010

A tweet look at the literary classics

By Ryan Casey

Remember the first time you heard about Twitter?

I do.

How stupid, I remember thinking. This will never last.

Honestly. The concept was to express yourself in 140 characters or less. Including spaces. It meant further butchering of our beloved English language. ("ROFL!! did u c tht? chk it out. RT@yourmom I am cooking.")

Thank goodness, though, it didn't have the potential to make the leap into the actual physical world that uses full sentences.

Oops.

Twitterature, a 208-page work of two University of Chicago freshmen, looks at more than 80 classics of literature through the eye of the Twitter. And it rocks.

Through a series of 20 tweets or so per work, the authors – Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin – retell the plot of books ranging from The Da Vinci Code to Pride and Prejudice in record time.

SparkNotes and CliffsNotes suddenly and immediately find themselves rendered inconsequential. As it pokes fun at literature, em>Twitteraturemakes literature fun.

Take this snippet on George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four:

  • "At work; dullsville. How can rewriting history be fun if you're betraying the timeless ideal of truth? Let's see: Truth is Lies?"
  • "Disregard my last tweet. Need to keep those bad thoughts out of my head, otherwise I'll have to make a trip to the Ministry of Love."
  • "P.S. By 'Love' they mean imprisonment, execution, and unspeakable torture. In that order. Like I said, opposites are the new white."

Or Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland:

  • "Am I still the same little girl that I was before? I feel like my 'self' is being deconstructed. And in HD, to boot."
  • "I asked a mouse how to get dry from all my tears. He gave me a dry history lesson. People are purposefully confusing my words."
  • "I'm in the rabbit's house. Here's more mysterious juice. Should I drink it again? Oh what the hell. Hope I won’t be sore afterward."

From Romeo and Juliet – "Found fair Juliet. She's dead, and definitely not faking it! (Didn't move when I poked her there.) Alas, I must drink this terrible brew." – to Frankenstein – "When I put the body together it was all for the HaHa. I didn't think it would live. And why must an abomination kill as its first instinct?" – there is hardly an interpretation that disappoints.

Like it or not, Twitter is here to stay. The fact that this book was written – and kicks ass – prove it. (Yes, after my initial skepticism, even I’ve fallen for the social networking service.)

Still, even those who don’t typically reside in Twitterverse can appreciate this beauty. It comes with a fully stocked glossary, where acronyms like “BAMF” and “GTFO,” phrases like “Peace, bitches” and “Word up!” – and even the word “Tweet” – are explained in full.

Quirky, quick-witted and fun, Twitterture gets it right. It helps us rediscover something we may have not read since middle school – a-hem, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales – or be introduced to something really cool we didn’t even know about. Not gonna lie, I’d never heard of Mikhail Lermontov, or his A Hero of Our Time. (Yes, I Wikipediaed Lermontov to see what his deal was.)

Besides, as the authors point out, “who has time to read those big, long books anymore?”

Twitterature

Pages: 208

Authors: Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin

Cost: $12.00

On the web: twitterature.us

On Twitter: @AcimanandRensin

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