Hands up if you’ve seen Touchpress‘s gorgeous iPad app for TS Eliot‘s poem The wasteland? Now, if your hand is up, why didn’t you tell me about it? Luckily, though, I have a real-life, dinky-di librarian friend who told me what my online friends didn’t!
This is not going to be a proper review as I only downloaded it yesterday, but it’s worth sharing sooner rather than later. At least , I think it is, because it’s a great example of how technology can enhance our reading experience, particularly of complex texts. The app comprises the following menu items:
- Poem (the full text)
- Performance (a filmed performance of the full poem by Fiona Shaw. You can watch the performance on its own, or with the text synced to it!)
- Manuscript (facsimile of the original typed manuscript showing Eliot’s handwritten edits)
- Perspectives (commentary on the poem and Eliot, by various people including Seamus Heaney and Jeanette Winterson)
- Readings (several audio renditions of the poem, including two by Eliot himself, and others by Alec Guinness, Ted Hughes and Viggo Mortenson)
- Notes (annotations and references explaining the poem)
- Gallery (images relating to the poem).
There is a Home icon so you can quickly return to the menu screen to navigate around the app. And there are also well thought through navigations on other screens. For example, on the screen containing the straight text of the poem are icons linking directly to the annotations (Notes) and the list of audio versions (Readings).
I feel like the proverbial child in a lolly shop. Where do I start? Do I simply read the poem? Probably not, since if that’s all I wanted to do I’d have taken my lovely old Collected Works down from my bookshelf. So, what do I do? Do I read it with the annotations? Or listen to TS Eliot read it or watch Fiona Shaw perform it? Or do I play around with the edited manuscript facsimiles? Whatever I do, though, I’ll be in good company. The app – for a rather challenging poem, remember – was one of the topselling apps the week it was released and was named “app of the week” in the US.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter
(line 18, The waste land)
It will take many nights to read, watch and absorb this terrific production, but it’s winter here so I’m starting now…
The waste land
iPad app (AUD16.99)
Touch Press and Faber and Faber, 2011