Twitter + Literature = Twitterature?

Classics and bestsellers are rarely left to rest on their popularity. The moment they become popular, an entire line of copycat books (which also hope to become a classic one day, or at least the next bestseller) are published. Then come the attempts to make a film or a TV serial (or both) based on the classic/bestseller. Parodies of the classics are not too far behind in getting published or filmed. Then you have the critiques and the re-interpretations of these popular books. And with the social media boom, it is not surprising that some of these books are being tailored or re-written to fit that criteria (for example, click here to read a Facebook version of the Mahabharata, and here to read a  Facebook version of the Ramayana).

With the Twitter boom, can its influence on literature be far behind? Not at all, and this is where two teenagers, Alexander Aciman and Emmet  Rensin, rewrote over 80 classics and some recent bestsellers as a series of tweets. And thus was Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books Retold Through Twitter born.

Twitterature (Penguin Books, 2009, pp. xiv + 146) is an attempt at “facing and understanding … the greatest art of all arts: Literature” through Twitter. The authors, both 19-year-old students at the University of Chicago at the time of publication of the book, wrote it with the intention of mastering “the literature of the civilized world, while relieving [the reader of] the burdensome task of reading it” in its original form. In other words, Twitterature is a retelling of literature in the form of tweet stories in Twitter language.

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