Friday, May 15, 2009

Twitter rescues literature. (Or does it?)

Waiting for Godot  -- Samuel Beckett: Vladimir and Estragon stand next to tree and wait for Godot. Their status is not updated.

Lady Chatterley's Lover -- DH Lawrence: "Upper-class woman gets it on with gamekeeper."

You can get all these and more from Tim Collin's The Little Book of Twitter. "Maybe we are only just beginning to appreciate the potential of Twitter as an art form," he says.

Ok ... aaaay.

But I am sure it is fun. What was that book by the Frenchman, about talking about books you have never read? Guess, we can now talk about more books. But Tim Collins does admit he had difficulty with Finnegan's Wake.

Here are a couple more:

The Catcher in the Rye -- JD Salinger: Rich kid thinks everyone is fake except for his little sister. Has breakdown.

Pride and Prejudice -- Jane Austin: Woman meets man called Darcy who seems horrible. He turns out to be nice really. They get together.

Excellent for teachers. Wonderful material for seting multiple choice questions:

Question: Which book is this? Man walks around Dublin. We follow every minute detail of his day. He’s probably over tweeting. 
A. Ulysses -- James Joyce
B. Great Expectations -- Charles Dickens
C. The Catcher in the Rye -- JD Salinger

Now, if only someone will come up with a workbook for these darn things.

The Telegraph

Napoleon Bonaparte -- king of chick lit

Maev Kennedy and Catherine Neilan of The Guardian compare a novella, Clisson and Eugénie, about first love, a pieced together manuscript of lost book by Napoleon Bornaparte that has just been translated into English, with a Mills & Boons classic.

They write: "Napoleon is already credited with writing some of the most romantic – or revolting, depending on your sensibilities – words in his urgent message to Josephine: Will return to Paris tomorrow evening. Don't wash." Eeeuwww.

But the ruthless tyrant who conquered nearly the whole of Europe was also failed author of romances, until now that is. I feel numb. Come to me without delay is a line from the book. Is that what chick-lit is like? I must confess I have not read any.

Here are extracts. Decide if it is great literature.

"The sad young soldier [Clisson] takes the waters ... It was a place of enchantment ... Unknown as he was, he wandered amongst the crowd ... He gazed with interest at the beauty of the women and their dresses, mostly made of linen. People feel comfortable while taking the waters and he was able to engage in a great number of inconsequential conversations, which brought him relief from his melancholy and solitude."

Eugenie writes to him.

"I am worried and unhappy. I feel numb. Come to me without delay. Only the sight of you will cure me. Last night I dreamt you were on your deathbed. The life had gone out of your beautiful eyes, your mouth was lifeless, you had lost all your colour. I threw myself on your body: it was icy cold. I wanted to bring you back to life with my breath, to bring you warmth and life. But you could no longer hear me. You no longer knew me."

The Guardian

Organiser of Big Read escapes eating book

Literature Director of America's National Endowment for the Arts and programme director of the community reading scheme The Big Read, David Kipen, pledged to eat Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird if he could not persuade the entire literate population of of Kelleys Island in Lake Erie in Ohio to read it. As it tuned out the 131 residents of the island proved to be a literary-minded lot, so he didn't have to eat the book.

Alison Flood writes in The Guardian that Kipen, had been searching for a town "small enough and brave enough to accept the challenge of dragooning every last literate resident, without exception, into tackling its chosen book". Then he found the four square mile Kelleys Island – population 131. He said that if residents failed to finish Harper Lee's classic novel, he'd eat a copy of the book.

He is quoted. "The prospect of 'terrible indigestion' already has me up nights thinking about it ..." Really? How about choosing another small island, Manhatten, next?

The Guardian