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Blogging the classics

I was doing that most annoying thing on the train this morning, reading my neighbour's paper over his shoulder, when this headline caught my eye – Hot gossip as Pepys and Austen go blogging. Intrigued, I tried to read on but my neighbour rather inconsiderately turned the page so I had to wait until I got to work to look it up. Turns out he was still reading the Sunday Times on Tuesday but I guess it's important to get good value out of your newspaper in these straitened times.

Anyway, it turns out that DeeDee Baldwin, a 29-year-old Mississippi librarian, has condensed Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice into a series of announcements in the style of the Facebook social networking website -  “Charles Bingley is renting a house in Hertfordshire!” she writes. “Kitty Bennet can’t stop coughing . . . Elizabeth Bennet promises never to dance with Mr Darcy . . . Charles Bingley is now friends with Mr Bennet.”

The Pepys blog, devised by Philip Gyford, a British actor and freelance website designer, publishes each day in 2009 the corresponding entry from Samuel Pepys' Diary for the year 1666. This allows the reader to tackle the diary in bite size chunks. A similar thing has been done with George Orwell's diary.

So, is this a brilliant way to make classic literature more accessible and approachable? Or is it, as one indignant commentator suggests, "barbarism to cut down such amazing literary masterpieces to void, brainless, random statements."?

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