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Twitterature, the Classics and where the joke lies

From Will Hammond, our editor at Viking/Penguin:

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 - Homer's Iliad, Dante's Inferno, Spenser's Faerie Queene, Richardson's Clarissa, Joyce's Ulysses - 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. The difference, though, and 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.

What also appeals to us about Twitterature is that while it is most certainly not a serious book, it is, we think, a clever book, a funny book and also a very Penguin book. Penguin's founder Allen Lane took the view that there was a huge untapped readership for great works of literature, so he set about making the classics available to them in cheap editions that the majority of people could actually afford. Hardbacks became paperbacks; huge books became pocket-size. Twitterature takes this logic and pushes it one step further: it reduces the contents, too. As you'll see from the cover, the joke is at our expense as much as anyone's.


Works included in Twitterature

Aeneid by Virgil
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Candide by Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by Byron
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
The Devil in the Flesh by Raymond Radiguet
Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Emma by Jane Austen
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
The Epic of Gilgamesh
Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Hamlet by Shakespeare
Harry Potter (1–7) by J. K. Rowling
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Iliad by Homer
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The Inferno by Dante
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
King Lear by Shakespeare
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
Macbeth by Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Medea by Euripides
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Odyssey by Homer
Oedipus the King by Sophocles
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol
Paradise Lost by John Milton
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Red and the Black by Stendhal
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles
Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
The Tempest by Shakespeare
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Ulysses by James Joyce
Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
The Wall by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot
Watchmen by Alan Moore
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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