Twitter has built its reputation on the art of brevity. If you’ve got something to say, you’d better say it in 140 characters or less–anything more verbose than that, and you’ve gotta take it to Facebook.
But many would argue that boundaries exist just so they can be challenged, expanded, played with. And so it’s come to pass that Twitter, of all places, has become a haven for dead literary icons.
Yes, you heard correctly–name your favorite writer, and chances are, they have a Twitter feed. Some are tongue-in-cheek, some are serious homage, but they’re all fascinating in the way they meld classic literature with modern social networking.
Both NPR and Mashable recently compiled lists of their favorite writerly Twitter feeds. The lists include Laura Ingalls Wilder, Sylvia Plath, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Walt Whitman but there are countless others out there.
What’s the point of impersonating dead writers? Maybe the answer is as simple as finding Internet fame, but maybe it’s also about celebrating literary heroes, or at least about bringing some linguistic creativity to a platform so rife with links, abbreviations, and hashtags that it’s often like reading a foreign language.
My favorite, of course, is Uncle Walt–not only because that particular fake Twitter feed is written by none other than my fiance, but also because it’s ridiculous and hilarious. Do you follow any dead authors? Which author would you most like to impersonate?