Twitteral translations: Does a rose in a tweet smell as sweet?

@OedipusGothplex 2bornt2b? Can one tweet beyond the mental coil?

Tweet based on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet as translated in Twitterature

All that time wasted in high school. Struggling through the purgatory of Milton’s Paradise Lost. And those Shakespeare plays, one after another. All those sexual innuendos eighth graders would love if they were not penned in an obscure archaic tongue.

Top those off with Melville’s Moby Dick. Actually, I was pretty impressed with Melville. In fact, he was such a good writer, he even managed to make whale hunting fascinating. But, he did go on and on. And on and on. Completion would have interfered with my telephone time, of utmost importance at that stage in life. Midway through I was desperate. I finally invoked the every-fifth-chapter approach. Amazingly, employing this arbitrary and brutal form of editing allowed me to follow the plot enough to regurgitate meaty, quasi-intelligent answers to Mrs. Masterson’s dreadfully detail-demanding discussion questions.

Why, oh why, wasn’t Twitterature available then? So concise, condensed to a point no slicing-and-dicing editor at Readers’s Digest could have imagined. Written in language high school students can comprehend.

cards@AliceInTheSkyWithDiamonds This land is terrorized by the Queen of Hearts. She’s a card. Wouldn’t it be funny if I just destroyed her army by shuffling them?

Tweet based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as translated in Twitterature

For the old-fashioned, tweets come across as texts on your cellphones. Each tweet an author chirps – including the identifying “from” name as in @OediupusGothplex – cannot contain more than 140 characters. And that’s counting punctuation and spaces. This extreme brevity means they can be scrolled through rapidly, unlike the unabridged Moby Dick.

@EarlyBloomer69 All his intello friends are coming over all the time. Borrrrrring. All they do is talk about books.

Tweet based on D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover as translated in Twitterature

Imagine, each assigned tome compressed into a mere 20 tweets or less. The book’s editor at Viking/Penguin, Will Hammond wrote:

Say the word Twitter to a book lover and they will probably roll their eyes at you and sigh. Some of the greatest works of literature… are long, sometimes difficult and often challenging. Twitter is the opposite: a free-for-all of voices clamouring for a split-second’s attention with zero quality control. This is what makes Twitterature so funny: huge books made ridiculously small; great stories told in silly voices. Like all good pastiche, Twitterature skewers the original work with pin-point accuracy – mocking its grandiosity, exposing absurd coincidences of plotting, parodying its subject’s ticks, slips and oddities.

twitteratureTwitterature is not new. It was written by two University of Chicago students, @AcimanandRensin, or Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin, in 2009. The book was written so long ago even @AcimanandRensin no longer tweets about it.

But I’m a little slow in discovering it, probably because I didn’t start tweeting for clients until three years ago. A fellow blogger tweeted about the book from London only this morning. And, now, able to comprehend tweet-speak at this late point in my career, I am appreciative of the humor. Coupled with Will Cuppy’s versions of history found in The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody to which Bluebird led me, my academic path and my grade-point average would have been impacted radically.

@TheRealDesperateHousewife My life is awful. I’m going shopping. I want to buy a whole bunch on credit that I can’t afford, and then declare bankruptcy.

Tweet based on Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary as translated in Twitterature

Can’t believe I waded through the whole thing in French. A Twitteral translation would have made it so easy.

You might wonder, if I’m so social-media proficient now, why am I blogging about Twitterature instead of tweeting? Restricting my fingers to 140 characters is work. Blogging allows me the recreational therapy of being loose-finger-tipped. The above paragraphs would add up to way more tweets than Twitterature‘s entire version of Moby Dick.

The authors of Twitterature were considerate enough of those unaccustomed to the tweet language to generally write in complete words and sentences with few of the widely accepted Twitter shortcuts, and they actually grasp the literature they harpoon. According to Hammond:

…what makes this little collection particularly enjoyable, is that the joke falls just as heavily (well, probably more so) on Twitter. In a face-off between Shakespeare’s Macbeth and his Twitter avatar ‘BigMac’, it’s fairly clear who comes off looking worse. So, in a curious way, Twitterature is just as much a celebration of the classics as it is a mockery of them.

Do you think @AcimanandRensin composed the entire volume of Twitterature on their cellphones?

7 thoughts on “Twitteral translations: Does a rose in a tweet smell as sweet?”

  1. This was a fun posting.

    Edith got me to join Twitter after she abandoned Facebook. I follow Steve Martin and recently bought his album with Edie Brickell. My favorite track is about a break-up:

    I like your Siamese cat. I like your cowboy hat. But I don’t like your daughter.


  2. After all that twittering, I must confess my tweets are confined to reflections of the personalities of my social media clients, @texasbistro and @zincbistro. My personal ramblings revolt against formats so stingy with their allotment of characters.


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