John Atkinson of Ottawa just made every high school student’s life so much easier. The next time they’re assigned some lengthy read that they can’t even be bothered to find the Cliff's Notes for, they can just turn to the Atkinson's condensed versions of classic novels.
The shortened versions are presented via crude cartoons and feature such classics as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, War and Peace, and Grapes of Wrath.
In a brief interview with Buzzfeed, Atkinson revealed that he started condensing novels a while back, starting with very short descriptions of what unfolds in classics like War and Peace, Don Quixote, Ulysses, and Moby Dick.
“I was thinking about how, in an online world, we consume information. In the past, we would spend hours/days/weeks reading great literature, but now we have a need to digest everything in small viral bits.”
That explains why he took The Great Gatsby, a timeless piece, and diluted it down to:
“Something about the American dream.”
He even brought The Lord of the Rings trilogy to a more manageable level, calling the adventures of Frodo Baggins:
“Middle-earth’s epic jewelry return policy.”
The thing is, he’s not really too far off. For instance, you could read all of Pride and Prejudice and enjoy sorting through the antics of Elizabeth Bennet and her disdain for her inevitable future beau. Or you can read Atkinson’s version where, in two simple sentences, he explains Bennet’s journey from not liking to eventually marrying wealthy aristocrat Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Oh, sorry. Spoiler alert!
Atkinson also hilariously breaks down Wuthering Heights to two simple concepts:
"sort-of" siblings fall in love and there is fog.
And he somehow managed to break down George Orwell's Animal Farm to two simple concepts.
Atkinson was very busy coming up with these abridged classics, so much so that he put 100 of them into a book, aptly titled Abridged Classics.
After reading through it, you’ll be able to have in-depth conversations about To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, The Brothers Karamazov and 97 more.
Or, at the very least, hop into the conversation with at least one tidbit of info.
Atkinson’s must-read is available for purchase through HarperCollins Publishers.