Your Unauthorized Guide to the Golden Age of National Lampoon Magazine

210. Great Works in One Sentence

March 26, 2010

Q: Who was responsible for re-writing great works of fiction in one sentence? I recall the Bible was condensed to: God creates man then gets mad at him for everything he does. When did it appear in the Lampoon?

A: Debbie sez: “‘Kondensed Kliff’s Notes’ by Ed Subitzky and Larry Sloman, in the Oct ’86 (Back to School) issue.”


Sure, that was in the 'Poon. "Kondensed Kliff's Notes" by Ed Subitzky and Larry Sloman, in the Oct '86 (Back to School) issue. My fave is Kafka's 'Metamorphosis', which is reduced to: "A man turns into a cockroach and his family gets annoyed."

—Debbie Nickelnipples

March 26, 2010 8:51 pm

Thanks, Debbie!


March 26, 2010 10:13 pm

Another article which comes close to fitting that description is "Great Works of Literature Translated for Today's Teens," by P.J. O'Rourke and Jeff Greenfield, from the August 1978 "Today's Teens" issue. Some books are summarized in both. MOBY DICK (1986 summary): "A whale bites off a man's leg and the man can't forget about it." MOBY DICK (1978 summary): "I'm Ishmael... there was this big white whale and this guy wanted to kill it but instead the whale sunk his boat and everybody died but me." Hmm... that 1978 summary sounds a little high-brow...


March 27, 2010 3:24 am

A British paperback entitled 'How to Become Ridiculously Well-Read in One Evening' (edited by E O Parrott) has the following "encapsulation" of Moby Dick, by W S Brownlie: A captain with an idee fixe Chased a whale for weeks and weeks, All because it ate his limb: That's the thing that bothered him. In the end, with scarce a scratch, The whale it won - game, set, and match. And though it seems a bit bizarre The whale was white - an odd bete noire. THAT'S highbrow!

—Debbie N

March 28, 2010 9:28 pm

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