Friday, September 10, 2004

Literature for the Imminently Dead

Some of us, as it so happens, have terminal illnesses. This means they will soon die, perhaps even right now. Not before now, though, because then they would no longer have terminal illnesses and would have entered the text of this [post]under false pretences.

Hours are precious; minutes tolerably valuable; days of great import, excepting vomiting-days. One does not want to waste time reading a long tome when a short would suffice.

No, what anyone in this position wants - and by "anyone" I mean myself, and by extension others - is some means of sampling the cream of the crop without reading, or indeed encountering at all, tedious quantities of unnecessary words.

With this in mind, here are the classics in five words or fewer.


PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (Jane Austen)
Feisty heroine: "Won't marry!" Marries.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS (Charles Dickens)
Virgin. Discovers humility. Still virgin.

THE ILIAD (Homer)
Fight. Games. Fight. Games. Fight.

FINNEGANS WAKE (James Joyce)
Riverrun. Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk! Irish incomprehensibility. The

THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE (Thomas Hardy)
Wife sold. Guilt. Regained. Misery.

ROMEO AND JULIET (William Shakespeare)
Hormones conquer Verona. Cast expire.

MACBETH (William Shakespeare)
Macbeth king. Witches: "die!" Does.

THE BIBLE (God with co-writers)
Creation!begatbegatbegatSaved!

PARADISE LOST (John Milton)
Devil pontificates. God somewhat irrelevant.

THE PRINCE (Niccolò Machiavelli)
Teach yourself bastard. Be thanked.

ON THE ROAD (Jack Kerouac)
Bored. Travels. Bored. Travels. Bored.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE (JD Salinger)
Complain, moan, sarcasm, mooch, MESSAGE

THE ART OF WAR (Sun Tzu)
Win then fight. Helpful, apparently.

DEAD SOULS (Nikolai Gogol)
VAST MORAL EPIC bugger, suicide.

1984 (George Orwell)
Misery. Tortured by State. Happy.

THE ODYSSEY
Back late. Wife happy. Mythical.

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