Having noted the success of clickbait in attracting internet traffic, and in particular the popularity of lists of everything from the ‘12 silliest super foods’ to the ‘six most endearing Johnny Depp haircuts of the 90s’, Penguin Books today reasserted the continued validity of literature by announcing that it would be releasing condensed and edited versions of classic works in the form of lists.
Upcoming titles will include ‘Seven Crazy Facts about Anglo-Catholic Aristocratic Decline’ (Brideshead Revisited), ‘Four Cutest Couples of the 1810s’ (The Pride and Prejudice/ Sense and Sensibility compendium edition) and ‘10 Things the Young Man in Your Life is Doing Right Now’ (Portnoy’s Complaint).
In a statement a spokesperson for Penguin Books said, “Readers and publishers are engaged in an extended, ongoing dialogue with historical writers. It’s entirely valid for us to adapt literature into forms that are relevant to the modern world. The writers themselves would recognise that they certainly don’t have a monopoly on the meaning of their works, and these editions are just reflections of that. I mean some people had problems when we released ‘Cake Recipes to Treat Ennui: The Marcel Proust Cook Book’ but the critical reception on Oprah’s Book Club was overwhelmingly positive so I think the Academy has spoken.”
Outspoken literary critic and well-known source of easy copy Antoine Vyse said that this new publishing strategy “marked the final abdication of the publishers from their much-vaunted post as literary gate-keepers and reduced them to mere taxonomists of the anodyne, curators of claptrap and intellectual sputum.”
Penguin Books rejected this claim, with the spokesperson pointing out that a number of the lists would be rather weighty including ‘14,752 things you didn’t know about 19th century Russia’ (War and Peace), and that Penguin Books would use this opportunity to publish works previously in list form in ordinary prose such as ‘A Book About a Guy called Schindler’ by Thomas Keneally.
Finally, Penguin stressed that the books would still be published in the distinctive orange and white vintage covers to maintain their worth as interior decoration props for poseurs.