There's always been an aural tradition in storytelling, verse epics like Beowolf passed down through generations, but the idea of doing that for something like a Jane Austen novel feels like an even greater challenge.
It's this I thought of when reading Emma Brockes's interview with a Manhattan theatre group who're producing the full text of The Great Gatsby on stage and how one of the actors, Scott Shepherd now knows the entire text off-by-heart proving that Bradbury's idea isn't so much of a fantasy:
"This was put more scarily to the test on stage, says Shepherd, when the book fell apart in his hands one evening. "We've only used two books for this show. One book became so deformed it was held together with duct tape. We had a superstitious attachment to it – the Book – and finally it turned into a taped-together sheaf of papers. Then we had a new book and that started to fall apart. One day, a chunk of chapters went flying out and slammed against the back wall. Fortunately, it was part of the book I'd already read. When they taped it back in, they taped it one page off. The next day I was reading, turned the page and there was a page missing. I had to rely on memory. And I did it."