This is the story of my life: First, I conceive a brilliant concept. Then I proceed to Google this concept only to find that it already exists. And the cycle repeats. Case in point: today I had an epiphany when I put together my two favorite words to form “Twitterature”. It was going to be groundbreaking. The ideas flooded into my head and I broke out the pen and paper to make sure they were remembered. “I might even be a millionaire,” I thought. I realized I was getting ahead of myself, and that before I went any further I wanted to make sure this concept was truly original. I rushed to Google and began to type “twittera” in the search bar. The dropdown suggestions appeared and there, sitting at the very top of the list staring back at me, was my beloved term “twitterature”. I was heartbroken. I hesitatingly clicked on what I had thought was my first million-dollar idea in order to find out what it already was. First I will describe my concept to you, and then I will have to break the awful news of what “Twitterature” really is.

When I thought I had coined the term “twitterature”, I was immediately overwhelmed with ideas of how this could change literature as we know it. I dreamed of the greatest works of literature all boiled down to 140 characters of hermeneutical genius. I imagined the philosophically heavy works of Plato, or the ambiguous intricacy of Pound’s Cantos, placed into 140-character tweets. I am talking about the entirety of the Lord of the Rings trilogy summed up in one, thick, immaculately-worded tweet dripping with semantic significance. Word usage would be at a premium. There would be no room for unnecessary words that did not convey deep meaning regarding the work at hand; no room for hashtags, “@” symbols, or overtly cliché acronyms such as “YOLO”. Only enough room for expertly placed words, letters, numbers or symbols to encompass the entirety of a classic work of literature. The greatest authors in the world would get on board sending their twitterature to me, and it would be compiled in a brilliant book that would fly off the shelves of Borders  Sparknotes would go bankrupt. Perhaps some authors would even attempt to make twitterature of their own works, which would indeed be the best form of twitterature. Thinking of examples of books that would be extremely interesting as twitterature, I texted my pastor and asked him to twitterize the entire message of the Bible (in 140 characters of course). He responded within three minutes with 137 carefully chosen characters: “The Bible is about God’s commitment to redeem a sinful people for Himself through His Holy Spirit and his Son’s cradle, cross, and crown.”—Joe Holland. That was a great example: the entirety of the meta-narrative in the palm of your hand. Twitterature was going to work! This was my brainchild and I was holding it in my arms smiling at it. Then…I discovered what twitterature already was.


Twitterature as it already exists is a disgrace. Here’s how I would describe their work in 140 characters or less: cheesy, un-classy, mildly funny, but often blatantly vulgar and distasteful tweets disgracing an originally beautiful work of literature (137 characters). Don’t take it from me though. Here’s one of the tweets in the retelling of Hamlet: “I just killed my girlfriend’s dad. Does this mean I can’t hit that?” And yet another sad example, this time from Harry Potter:  “I AM UNDERGOING A LOT OF ANGST RIGHT NOW. And this Asian girl is giving me a major hard-on. Blue balls suck. No magic potion for it either.”

Twitterature is a published book for sale on Amazon, very close to my idea, but yet so far. Instead of using one magnificent tweet to sum up the entirety of a work of literature they do it in “20 tweets or fewer”. Virtually every tweet is extremely sexual and offensive, but that is not what bothers me. What irks me is the lack of ingenuity. There is but a splinter of creativity to be found throughout all of the examples given on their website. This all made sense when I clicked on the “authors” tab to find out that both of the authors are nineteen year old college bro’s from the University of Chicago.  What could have been a brilliant work of art was diminished to F-bombs and penis jokes. Thus is life.

  4 comments for “Twitterature

  1. ebrennan
    February 27, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I like your idea a lot better than what twitterature actually is. I’d be really really skeptical of your twitterature if your pastor didn’t sum up the Bible so eloquently. However, it’s unrealistic to say that twitterature could replace literature in anyway. It can provide an awesome challenge for summary, but at the end of the day, telling me what it’s about in 140 characters is never going to be as valuable as showing me in as many pages as you want and letting me decide what it’s about for myself. But I still say you should rename your idea and get it going!

  2. March 6, 2012 at 11:04 am

    What’s interesting about these (bad) examples of “twitterature” is how the 140-character constraint implies (for some people) a certain vernacular of expression. As you imply, Twitter is no excuse not to be eloquent.

    There are some interesting things being done with Twitter, so if you can figure out how to make it literature, by all means! Here’s an older example (sadly, no longer active) of combining Twitter with literature: Twittering Rocks.

  3. George Bowles
    March 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I think both of the ideas are very interesting. It takes skillful articulation to summarize a piece in 140 characters and it would interesting to different interpretations of the text. I think that the other version could also be pulled off in a tasteful way that would make a nice piece of fan fiction. I agree that it certainly doesn’t add any value by adding expletives, but I think it would be funny to gain perspective into some of the minor characters in major novels through their own tweets.

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