Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tweeting the Classics

Okay, so I'm not quite sure what to think of this. Here is a portion of an article reporting about the latest phenomenon in the "reading meets technology" circles:

In today's fast-paced society, it can be difficult to find the time to enjoy such long, wordy classics like Moby Dick or The Great Gatsby. Between Twitter, Facebook, TiVo, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and iPhone/Droid apps, there's simply no room in our schedules to read a book.

Unless of course it's a junior-high reading level novel about teenage vampires committing suicide. Then we're all over that.

But the classics are too poetic and long-winded. "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" What does that even mean? Why didn't Juliet just look up Romeo's Loopt profile?

Fortunately, two University of Chicago students have put together a new book to help the attention-deficient among us.

Turns out that Emmett Rensin and Alexander Aciman have written a book that takes major works of literature from Anna Karenina and The Three Musketeers to Paradise Lost and The Hobbit and puts them into a series of no more than 20 "tweets" of 140 characters. Now, I understand that neither of the authors intends this to be a replacement for the real stories, but rather a humorous take on them. But the description from the book's website kind of irks me:

Twitterature provides everything you need to master the literature of the civilised world, while relieving you of the burdensome task of reading it.

Burdensome task? How is The Hobbit burdensome? Or Beowulf? Or Pride and Prejudice? Or Jane Eyre? Honestly, some people have no clue of the wondrous delight that awaits them between those covers. Is it hard work to read these works? Yeah, it often takes determination and practice to get through some of these clunkers. But at the same time, the benefits of having actually read the story are worth it.

The other thing that struck me were some of the so -called "classics" found on the list. Harry Potter? Twilight!!? How in the heck are these considered classics? Popular, yes, but classics? Classics are stories that remain relevant to us even after many years. I can't imagine Twilight being relevant today, let alone a century from now.

Anyway, just a personal rant. If you want to know more about the project, you can always follow them on Twitter.

1 comment:

Joshua Keel said...

Hah. Couldn't agree more. Off topic, though, I recently watched all the Harry Potter films after not being interested at all in either the films or the books. What I found was something much more interesting than I thought I might. Twilight, however, is still on my Ultimate Evil Reading List. :D