College duo invents ‘Twitterature’

Did you struggle to make it past page 20 of “Moby Dick”?

Do you live in fear of people discovering you’ve never read “Hamlet”?

Too busy for CliffsNotes?

Two University of Chicago freshmen believe they’ve found a solution. The pair recently signed a book deal with Penguin Books to rewrite 75 classic novels and plays as “Twitterature.”

In a move likely to be greeted by book-lovers with a mixture of horror and why-didn’t-I-think-of-that jealousy, college roommates Alex Aciman and Emmett Rensin, both 19, are rewriting classics by Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Dante and other greats in 20 or fewer 140-character tweets.

“Imagine if Achilles had a Twitter account and an iPhone, and he was telling his story in real time,” Aciman said, “that’s what this book is going to be like.”

Rensin added, “It’s like (CliffsNotes), but funnier – it reflects the narcissistic nature of Twitter.”

The precocious pair is in Los Angeles finishing the book, which Penguin hopes will be a best-selling stocking stuffer this Christmas.

They claim to have read all of the books they’re digesting, except for “Twilight,” the popular vampire series for teens.

“A modern classic,” Rensin deadpanned.

Aciman, a comparative literature major from New York, and Rensin, a philosophy major from California, haven’t discussed their invention with their professors.

But literature professor W. J. T. Mitchell gave the project his backing, telling the Chicago Tribune, “this is exactly the kind of thing you’d expect University of Chicago students to come up with.”

Students looking to cover a gap in their reading with Twitterature will probably be found out, he warned.

Aciman and Rensin earnestly compare their work to Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible from Latin to German and, citing the use of Twitter by the Iranian opposition movement, say they hope Twitterature will “liberate minds in America.”

“We love these books,” Aciman said, “We hope people go out and read them.”

Established writers have already experimented with Twitter as a literary form. Last month former New Yorker writer Dan Baum published a 4,000 word essay in 140-character bursts.

But Aciman and Rensin won’t be following suit.

“You can’t make money on Twitter,” Aciman said.”We want people to buy the book.”