Twitter entries satirize works of literature

Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:44pm EDT
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By Andrew Stern and Matt Cowan

CHICAGO/LONDON Oct 23 (Reuters) - Deciphering William Shakespeare plays in school essays apparently was not enough for two university students who have written a book of Twitter entries that summarize and satirize works of literature.

"Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books Retold Through Twitter," which Penguin releases next month in the United Kingdom, is an irreverent, profane and sometimes brilliant collection of 20 comments on the ideas and themes in 60-some classics.

The "tweets" of Emmett Rensin and Alexander Aciman combine the knowledge of an English major with the snarky shorthand of a teenager's text message.

"It's funny if you've read the books," said Rensin, who has read them at his tender age of 19. The mop-haired Rensin of Los Angeles is a sophomore at the University of Chicago majoring in English and philosophy, and his collaborator and classmate Aciman is a comparative literature major from New York City.

These are not their parents' Cliff Notes. The goal is laughs and gasps, not a study aid for students trying to comprehend Milton's "Paradise Lost," Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis," or William Shakespeare's plays.

Take Dante's "Inferno" -- which the authors did in Twitter entries that are restricted to 140 characters or less: "I'm having a midlife crisis. Lost in the woods. Shoulda brought my iPhone."

Of Sophocles' "Oedipus the King" they said: "PARTY IN THEBES!!! Nobody cares I killed that old dude, plus this woman is all over me."

Rensin discussed boiling down Homer's "The Odyssey."   Continued...

<p>William Shakespeare in an undated image. REUTERS/File</p>