To Tweet, or not to Tweet? That is the question.

At least, that’s what the question might be today. More and more frequently, we’re seeing a shift away from the traditional. People are writing books via smart phones, news information is being sent in the form of text messages, and there are more forms of social media than you can shake a stick at. What used to work just doesn’t anymore. Why should literary classics be any different?


College students Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin, both from the University of Chicago, assembled a book of Tweets based on classic reads. They call it Twitterature.  Aciman and Rensin look at things from the character’s point of view, asking themselves what they would if they had nothing but an iPhone and a Twitter account. Whatever that is, they turn it into a satirical Tweet.

The object of the book was to create something that wasn’t so “out-of-date.” Tweets include Shakespeare and Dickens, among others. This Tweet comes from Dante’s Inferno: “I’m having a midlife crisis. Lost in the woods. Shoulda brought my iPhone.”

According to an article by Robyn Jackson, one in three high school graduates will never pick up another book. Less than 20 percent of families read and/or buy books these days. With just 20 tweets per book, Tweetable novels may not be a bad idea, but the book has received mixed reviews. Some people think it’s hilarious, witty even. Others think it’s insulting to the literary classics they grew up with.

So, what’s the verdict? To Tweet or not to Tweet?


6 responses to “To Tweet, or not to Tweet? That is the question.

  1. I think this is funny in some ways, but also very wrong in others. I mean, sure, it’s great for a good laugh or an entertaining read. I like that someone had the idea to put a contemporary spin on classic novels. In terms of satire, this is great.

    It would be really sad though if people actually started to replace these Tweetable classics with the real thing. Like you mentioned, that is pretty insulting.

    Even though I would like to think that people would never replace the classics with these new books, I wouldn’t put it past some people. Some of those statistics you listed were pretty disturbing. I think people are getting lazy when it comes to reading. I admit, I don’t read as often as I used to. It’s terrible to say, but I admit that I have SparkNoted a book a time or two.

    I wonder, is this sort of thing SparkNotes for the next generation?

  2. I think it’s funny, but you have to take it with a grain of salt. Sure, this might be all of the classics some people will read and if so, that’s better than nothing. If someone is really that offended and they want to read the real thing, then by all means, read away! I think these guys wrote this as a satire about society and social media today (not entirely sure if satire is the word I wanted). Twitter won’t last forever anyway; something new will come along eventually and someone will write a funny book about that.

  3. In our fast food, gimme gimme world, I think that Twitterature is just the next thing. We want simple, fast and now. So, for a majority of us, that doesn’t include sitting down and reading The Red Badge of Courage during our few spare moments of free time. I think this idea is funny, yet sad. In the long run, I feel like we are only selling ourselves short in the end, but like Kate said–something is better than nothing, right? This is just the latest effort to be hip and mold to the newest trend, I applaud the idea.

  4. Mary Bess Bolling

    Twitterature is a clever parody on the classics some of us read (or SparkNoted) in school. I agree with Emily, though. Students are giving up on reading. Many are missing the art of it all and just looking for a loose grasp on the content in order to pass a test or comment without sounding like an idiot.

    The Washington Post stated, “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.”

    I’m sure everyone who reads it will realize that. I just don’t want this to become a trend in modern education.

  5. There is always something out there making a mockery of the classics; like many have mentioned, SparkNotes simplifies literature in its own way. I’m willing to be reactions were not all positive when that series began.

    As Kate, Clara, and others have said, this is just the next entertaining thing, and it does not spell the end of literature.

    Books are published every year, and though book reading may be on the decline while Kindle purchases go up, Twitterature will never replace the real thing.
    Maybe book publishers just need to take note from Grammar Girl and utilize social media to get their books out there.

  6. I agree. I would hate to see reading go down the toilet. They never intended for people to stop reading, but they did make a good point: Some of these books are extremely outdated in the dialect department, and most people don’t want to think that hard. Most people don’t know or care about the difference between a thee, thy and a thou.

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