Condensed literature

Could you sum up a classic in six words? Members of Salon's community, Table Talk, take a crack at it this week.

Published May 30, 2008 3:00PM (EDT)


Six words to great lit'rature

Lando -- 01:14 pm Pacific Time -- May 28, 2008

In honor of "the six-word short story" and "your life in six words," this thread is open to six-word homages to classic works of literature.

Whether you want to reduce Jane Austen's classic opening sally to six words (Truth here: Rich men need wives) or sum up Robert Frost ("Out walking. Took a new path"), this is the place to do it.

The times were good. Also bad.
A Tale of Two Cities

My name is definitely not Isaac.

Meera Hyphenated -- 01:56 pm Pacific Time -- May 28, 2008 -- #3 of 28

Bilbo took quest. Got the Ring.
The Hobbit

Twelve people tried to return it.
Fellowship of the Ring

Ring got tossed. Frodo came home.
Return of the King

Heidi Lynn -- 03:53 pm Pacific Time -- May 28, 2008 -- #5 of 28

Man catches fish. Sharks eat it.
The Old Man and the Sea

Kids sneak around, get married, die.
Romeo and Juliet

Desperate, noble poor get shafted. Repeatedly.
The Grapes of Wrath

Rapacious government consumes truth, excretes war.
1984 (or the Bush administration)

Soldier rushes fate, gets cocky, loses.

Lando -- 04:00 pm Pacific Time -- May 28, 2008 -- #6 of 28

Be good. Precisely how is unclear.
The Bible (Old Testament)

LaurenF -- 04:48 pm Pacific Time -- May 28, 2008 -- #8 of 28

Man sleeps with mother. Gouging ensues.
Oedipus the King

Woman sleeps with preacher. Branding ensues.
The Scarlet Letter

Tonstant Weader -- 07:13 pm Pacific Time -- May 28, 2008 -- #10 of 28

Woman sleeps with count. Suicide ensues.
Anna Karenina

Literal, symbolic rabbits are petted, mauled.
Of Mice and Men

longtime -- 09:25 pm Pacific Time -- May 28, 2008 -- #11 of 28

Hell, Purgatory, Heaven and sweet Beatrice.
The Divine Comedy

After much dithering, revenge is deadly.

Three daughters, two bad, one good.
King Lear

No one misses a charming bootlegger.
The Great Gatsby

Satan falls, tricks Eve, Adam follows.
Paradise Lost

Achilles sulks. Friend dies. Achilles fights.
The Iliad

Jared2 -- 06:53 am Pacific Time -- May 29, 2008 -- #14 of 28

Nothing happens. Then nothing happens again.
Waiting for Godot

Virgin gets knocked up by angel.
New Testament

Lando -- 07:53 am Pacific Time -- May 29, 2008 -- #17 of 28

Red-headed orphans: Well worth the trouble.
Anne of Green Gables

Vile man pities self, hates world.
A Confederacy of Dunces

Jared2 -- 09:05 am Pacific Time -- May 29, 2008 -- #19 of 28

Pandora opens box. Four horsemen escape.
Prometheus gives man fire; has regrets.
Pilgrims set out; much hilarity ensues.
Canterbury Tales

MGF -- 09:30 am Pacific Time -- May 29, 2008 -- #24 of 28

The Austen Oeuvre:

Unworthy entanglements neutralized, appropriate pairings proceed.
Sense & Sensibility

Hysterical mother marries off three daughters.
Pride & Prejudice

Poor relation annoys readers, weds cousin.
Mansfield Park

Alleged spinster, failed matchmaker makes match.

Girl renounces pulp fiction, finds husband.
Northanger Abbey

Yes this time, family be damned.

Or, to be utterly concise:

Worthy maidens get husbands they deserve.

Randall -- 11:03 am Pacific Time -- May 29, 2008 -- #27 of 28

Life's not worth it. So what?
L'Etranger, Camus

LaurenF -- 11:14 am Pacific Time -- May 29, 2008 -- #28 of 28

Man turns cockroach. No one cares.
The Metamorphosis

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