Congratulations for making it past that terrible headline! Though it was inspired by this story, where a blogger has whittled down the plots of Shakespeare’s plays into digestible tweets. Like Cliff’s Notes, for people without the attention span to even read Cliff’s Notes. Take popular favorite A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “A love potion straightens everything out and several couples end up happily together. Rustics are mocked. Watch out for fairies.” Or Richard III: “Edward IV dies, a caricatured villain usurps, murders innocents, & dies on a battlefield in sore need of a horse. The Tudors win.” Really, these twittered synopses are especially useful for the obscure plays that everyone pretends to have read but maybe just skimmed through, so 140 characters will tell you all you need to know for, say, Timon of Athens: “An overly generous man is let down by his ‘friends.’ He subsidizes rebellion & whores w/VD & dies a bitter man, cursing society.” Indeed he do! Though, if that’s too literate for you, you can read episode recaps of the first season of MASH or synopses of all the Oscar-winners for Best Picture.
A fun exercise, sure. But does the distillation offer anything to the conversation beyond cleverness? If you think it does not, then ponder this flipside: Kurt Andersen (@KBAndersen) twitters the observation that “ A book would break down into a few thousand tweets, maybe 10 a day for a year.”
So, then: the greatest writer in the English language can be reduced to 140 characters, and the next Great American Novel may be composed one tweet at a time. O brave new world that has such micro-bloggers in it.
Shakespeare Moves to Twitter [Great Writing]
All the Twittered Shakespeare Synopses [Pandora’s Skull]
Related: Hamlet (Facebook News Feed Edition) [McSweeney’s]