We live in the Google Era, where information comes so fast, it’s like drinking water from a fire hose. That information overload combined with the prevalence of apps like Twitter and TikTok has dramatically decreased the reader’s attention span to 144 characters or 15 seconds — whichever comes first. With that kind of an attention span, who is ever going to take the time to read literary classics. And let’s face it — some of these classics run a little long; for example, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes runs about 900 pages (containing more than 180,000 words), while Moby-Dick by Herman Melville runs about 700 pages (containing 135 chapters, and more than 209,117 words). If you read 250 words per minute, it would take about 19 hours to read Don Quixote and 14 hours to read Moby-Dick. (Incidentally, at readinglength[dot]com you can enter any book title and see how long it takes to read it based on your own reading speed). Who has that kind of time?
That’s where Maurice Sagoff’s little book, ShrinkLits comes in. Sagoff has managed to shrink 70 of the world’s most famous literary classics down to size. If you have a minute, you can read a summary of one of the classics, like Don Quixote, Moby-Dick, King Lear, or The Great Gatsby. Here is the ShrinkLit version of Melville’s magnum opus, Moby Dick.
Whale chomped Ahab’s leg in two.
“Hunt that beast! he tells his crew.
First, a welter of whaling schmooze,
Then comes Moby and hell breaks loose.
Smashup! Ahab’s drowned in brine,
Lashed to the whale by a harpoon line.
Good (symbolic) with Evil vies,
If you’d fathom it, you must rise.
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For further reading: ShrinkLits by Maurice Sagoff