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Review: The Waste Land for the iPad

 The depth and quality of the recently published amplified versions of literary works continue to amaze me. For lovers of literature and students struggling with literacy assignments, these editions offer uncommon encounters. Read Allison Tran’s review of The Waste Land to find out why.  

Title: The Waste Land
Author: T.S. Eliot
Published by: Touch Press LLP and Faber and Faber Limited
Platform: iPad exclusive, iOS 4.2 or later 
Version: 1.0.1.
Price: $13.99

Gr 9 Up-The experience of reading one of the most significant and challenging modernist poems of the 20th century is transformed in this beautifully designed production. Flawlessly intuitive navigation allows readers to activate an array of features to enhance their interaction with the work; among the most useful and smoothly integrated are expandable notes that appear alongside the text. When a note is selected, the corresponding section of the poem is highlighted, providing a seamless back-and-forth between the annotation and the text.

Access to the poem is available through audio recordings of the poem read by Eliot, the actor Viggo Mortensen, and others; a video of Fiona Shaw’s intimate performance; and videos of scholars and artists who provide additional context and thoughtful commentary. A gallery of related images of photos and paintings is included. Reproductions of the original manuscript pages, complete with editorial notes, provide a fascinating window into the poem’s creation and enrich readers’ understanding of Eliot’s masterpiece.   

The poem itself is the heart of the app, and those looking for a simple, unadorned encounter with the text can certainly find it here. Although the app may be a long, slow download from the iTunes store, it’s worth the wait; it’s value to motivated students is unquestionable. The Waste Land is a stunning demonstration of the way a book app can augment the traditional reading experience.–Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA