June 15, 2011

Twitter, meet Leopold Bloom


How do you take a 265,000-word novel and condense it into manageably sized, 140-character chunks? That’s the question one man seeks to answer this Thursday, June 16th, or Bloomsday, the 24-hour time period that frames James Joyce’s tome Ulysses.

Stephen, the project’s founder (who has chosen to remain on a first name basis), dramatically writes:

This is an experiment. It relies entirely on volunteers drawn worldwide from those poor peregrinating souls trapped somewhere between the old-new media novel explosion that was Ulysses and the new-new media implosion that is Twitter.

For the Ulysses Meets Twitter “experiment,” the 76 brave recruits will each adopt a section of the novel to recast. And with one tweet dispersed every 15 minutes, they should be on schedule to complete the hefty task within 24 hours.

Still worried about how the passages will translate in short form? It sounds like Stephen is pretty serious about maintaining the book’s distinct style.

This is not an attempt to tweet mindlessly the entire contents of Ulysses, word-for-word, 140 characters at a time. That would be dull and impossible. What is proposed here is a recasting or a reimagining of the reading experience of this novel, start to finish, within the confines of a day-long series of tweets from a global volunteer army of Joyce-sodden tweeps.

What do you think? Sacrilege? Genius? Or is this just further evidence of our ever-shortening attention spans?

Check it out for yourself (@11ysses). It all starts tomorrow at 3:00am EST (8:00am Dublin).