In the 1400s, Johannes Gutenberg developed the printing press bringing forth a new age of literary access to the common man and placing the care and construct of modern language in the hands of all. It was the dawn of Enlightenment.
Fast forward to now, and we’ve got emojis.
Are emojis a language? A few thumb taps and a little picture can communicate a complex idea that leaves little room for interpretation. With a simple , my wife can let me know the kids are being crazy and I should pick up a bottle of wine on my way home.
Emojis are pictures, but can they paint a picture? Would the world’s great authors be able to use emojis to express the subtle nuances of their work? Let’s find out.
Below, to the best of my ability, I have interpreted the first lines from major works of literature into emoji. Is anything lost in translation? Does the beauty of the text remain intact?
Original Text: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Original Text: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
Original Text: “All children, except one, grow up.”—J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan (1911)
Original Text: “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”—Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera (1985)
Original Text: “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.”—Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847)
Original Text: “Mother died today. Or maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.”—Albert Camus, The Stranger (1942)
Original Text: “Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.”—Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye (1988)
Original Text: “It was a pleasure to burn.”—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
So what do you think? Are emojis capable of conveying the complexities of literature? In my opinion, no, of course not. Don’t be silly. It’s not even close.
Darek is a web developer at HPB Corporate in Dallas.