Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books Retold Through Twitter by Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin

Twitterature by Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin
Twitterature by Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin

Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books Retold Through Twitter is funny. Or, as the Internet might say, funneh.

Over the years the Internet has evolved—I refrain from saying “exploded”—into many things, many of which have developed their own language. For those of us who tweet and must use only 140 characters to express ourselves, this lingo comes in handy when we need to cut things down.

Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin have used this concept and produced the Web 2.0 version of  CliffsNotes, with each book condensed into around of 2 pages of tweets (some of the more dramatic books get 2.5). While tweeting might not be your thing, the one-liners presented do a great job of condensing the main points into a few interesting lines that pretty much sum up what the book needs to say, with a bit of modern banter and some LOL, WTF, OMG along the way.

Some of my favorites include:

@BigMAC Battle went well! Cut mothafuckas from the nave to the chops! Neither bade farewell nor shook up! WORD UP! REPRESENT!

Oedipus the King
@WhathappensinThebes PARTY IN THEBES!!! Nobody cares I killed that old dude plus this woman is ALL OVER ME!!! Total MILF!

Paradise Lost
@MorningStarlet OMG I’m in HELL!

For people who need a guide to acronyms and such, there’s a handy dandy glossary at the back, and you don’t have to have read all the novels covered—I certainly haven’t. While some of the authors might roll over in their graves thinking, My character is not a hip hop bro, I’m sure many of us (and them) will appreciate the humour that goes with these “translations” of their work. If anything, it might encourage readers to buy the actual novels—I know that Anna Karenina and Heart of Darkness are looking more interesting to me—while some of the entries might make other novels seem pretentious and make you wonder, Why is this required reading again?

Macbeth by William ShakespeareOedipus Rex by SophoclesParadise Lost by John MiltonAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradUlysses by James Joyce

Be warned, though, that Twitterature could be considered spoilery. I mean, if the character dies, it’s right there, and if you are ever planning to read that novel and don’t like knowing these things, just be careful. (Though in my opinion someone always dies in required reading.)

One tiny whinge. Some years ago Modern Library published the Best 100 novels of the 20th century, and Ulysses by James Joyce came out as number 1. I have never read it and I am told it’s not an easy read. I was hoping it would be in this book, but it’s not. Can I has a sequel? :)

Twitterature is published by Penguin Australia and was released this week. The UK edition will be released on November 5, and the US edition on December 29.

Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less by Emmett L. Rensin and Alexander Aciman (US edition)
US edition
Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books Retold Through Twitter by Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin (UK edition)
UK edition

Title: Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books Retold Through Twitter (excerpt)
Authors: Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin
ISBN: 9780141047713
Release date: October 26, 2009
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Format: Paperback

Where you can buy this book

AUSTRALIA: Booktopia | Co-op Bookshop| Fishpond | GleebooksNile | More
EBOOKS: Not available
WORLDWIDE: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository

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Wandergurl is a sometime traveller who spends her daylight hours making sure that things go the way they're supposed to with minimum bureaucracy (don't ask!). A firm believer that thirty is the new twenty, she will probably never look her age (or act it!). An enthusiastic football supporter (that would be soccer to you) she will get up at odd hours to watch a game, and of course it's not just because the players are hot. She loves history, geography and is pretty good at trivia, thanks to her propensity to remember random bits of celebrity gossip. When not reading or travelling, she can be found indulging in her other passion -- eating -- and can be found at Wake up and smell the coffee.


  1. Zeek says:

    Cute.  I loved that contest someone had on twitter about telling a story in six words- facinating how much you can convey in such a short span of words.
    On a side note- I’m in the middle of Ulyssys by Joyce right now- talk about the complete OPPOSITE of twitter.  Joyce was all about excessive word use in Ulyssys.
    It is indeed not easy to read and generally confusing as much of it is internal dialogue and “stream of conscious” prose- until you realize it’s not about the narrative- its about the craft of writing.
    If you do tackle it- google a commentary first then come at it as you would a work of art.  Sure helped me to appreciate it more!

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