The Waste Land for iPad

Article excerpt

http://www.touchpress.com/titles/thewasteland/

If you or your school is not yet the proud owner of an iPad your eyes may already be drifting on to the next review in ict@sla; but read on ... for if nothing else you may discover what the power of the 'app' is bringing--not just to games and social networking, but to literature. While the eBook is a convenient way of accessing text when the print copy is not to hand, and of carrying an entire library in your pocket, it is, in the end, just that--an unformatted, digital version of the text. It differs from the original in the convenience it offers, but the content is the same; bibliophiles would claim that if anything it loses something--those physical elements of the book which all play a part in our response to a work, including the cover, the font chosen by the publisher, the texture of the paper, the illustrations, and so on.

An app is another beast altogether. The market in children's stories is exploding, from wholly original animations in the Pixar mould (such as the Oscar winning The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore by Moonbot--http://www.morrislessmore.com/), to retellings of fairy tales and other classics. The emphasis is on interactivity and making the child a real participant in the story, as in Nosy Crow's version of Cinderella (http://nosycrow.com/apps/). The medium can perfectly accommodate the way in which very young readers, in particular, have always approached books--going backwards and forwards, or straight to their favourite parts, and subtly inserting themselves into the story. From now on a small, but inevitably growing corner of ict@sla will be devoted to reviewing educational and book apps in the hope that increasing numbers of our readers will be able to make use of them.

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In publishing The Waste Land for the iPad, Faber and Touch Press have exploited the medium to the full and given us, for a mere 9.99 [pounds sterling], completely new material and the equivalent of a whole shelf full of critical works, audio recordings and films. Launched in June 2011, it 'carefully respects the typography and integrity of the original poem' (unlike an eBook) and represents a milestone in the publisher's project to 're-imagine poetry for the digital age'. I can do no better than quote from Faber's own publicity material (http://www.faber.co.uk/article/2011/6/waste-land-ipad-press-release/) about what the app offers:

* A powerful filmed performance of the entire poem by Fiona Shaw, synchronized to the text

* Complete audio readings of the poem, also synchronized to the text, by T. S. Eliot himself, Alec Guinness, Ted Hughes and Viggo Mortensen

* Comprehensive interactive notes to guide the user through the poem's many references

* Over 35 expert video perspectives on the poem, filmed in partnership with BBC Arena, including contributions from Seamus Heaney and Jeanette Winterson

* Original manuscript pages revealing how the poem took shape under Ezra Pound's editing

* An overview tool to reveal the complete structure of the verse and allow rapid navigation.

You can see and hear more about the Faber vision for combining poetry and technology here http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/video/2011/jun/07/ipad-apple-the-wasteland- apps-video and here http://www. …