About the Book

poeOphelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don’t Float: Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook brings more than 50 works of classic literature into the wild world of social media. Classics from The Odyssey to The Great Gatsby to Lolita are retold via news feeds, profile pages, events, groups, quizzes…even 25 Random Things lists. Everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Jane Austen, Hester Prynne to Holden Caulfield, and Anna Karenina to Don Quixote play “Scrabulific” games, write inappropriate status updates, post passive-aggressive comments and send awkward friend requests–all while Shakespeare himself moderates.

I owe the idea for this book to the confluence of two events: I joined Facebook in April 2008, and my first child was born a month later. As a new mom, I was perfect prey for Facebook’s seductive vortex of time drainage. I was up at all hours, often feeling tethered to my couch. Facebook allowed me to live vicariously through my non-couch-tethered friends, and the only energy exertion required of me was to write status updates, which in the first months of motherhood were mostly things like: “Sarah ate in a RESTAURANT.”

From the start, the Facebook news feed—then made up of status updates, group joinings, random pokings and newly announced friendships—intrigued me. I thought it was such an odd little collective conversation, almost like a story. Then I noticed friends oversharing in their status updates, making statements that seemed a little too private. I started thinking about the strangest things you could reveal via status update: Leaving your spouse? Quitting your job? I suppose due to the residue of being a former English major, in the middle of one of these long, newborn-centric nights, I somehow thought of Ophelia losing her mind: what would she say in a status update? Something nonsensical of course, about flowers. And the idea for a “Facebook Hamlet” began.

After Hamlet (Facebook News Feed Edition) was published on McSweeney’s, I was given the amazing opportunity to expand the concept to other classics. I immersed myself in a giant pile of literature in my basement for several months, rereading books I’d last cracked open in junior high or high school and getting the chance to read some for the first time (Jane Eyre, Oh My God). It was a true bibliophile’s fantasy.

So now we have the book. It’s a giddy, quite ridiculous mash-up of the most beloved characters and authors of classic literature and the social networking realm where we all spend far too much time. Hope you find it as much fun as I did.

Yours in social networking literary parody,

Sarah

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