Book App Review: The Waste Land June 13, 2011 – Tags: , , ,

Welcome to Book Patrol’s inaugural Book App Review. Here we will sample and review apps created exclusively for books or book-related themes.

We kick off the series with a look at T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land for the iPad, a joint production of Faber & Faber and Touch Press.

What is arguably the greatest poem of the 20th Century is now infused with the bells and whistles of what will or already has become one of the greatest technologies of the young 21st Century.

Think of it as a Wikipedia entry on interactive steroids and then some.

Not only do you get the poem persevered in its original typographic rendering but you can also view the original manuscript with Ezra Pound’s hand-written edits.

You can listen to Eliot read the poem in 1933 and then again 15 years later in 1947. There are also readings by Sir Alec Guinness, Ted Hughes and Viggo Mortensen and a filmed performance by actress Fiona Shaw of Harry Potter fame.

The entire poem is annotated and one can quickly and easily access and hide the feature as they read through the poem.

There are over 35 “video perspectives” on the poem including contributions from Seamus Heaney, Jeanette Winterson, Craig Raine and musician Frank Turner who sports a wrist tattoo featuring the poem’s epigraph.

The videos run the gamut from the history of the poems publication to the influence of Eliot on Bob Dylan.

There were some minor things that could use a little tinkering,  the “video perspectives” do not pop out to full screen but remain in the upper corner of the sidebar and the gallery can be improved by adding book covers and designs of the various published editions, but all in all this is a hearty compliment to the poem.

The potential educational value of the app cannot be underestimated. The textual and contextual elements of the app would compliment any teaching of the poem and aside from offering a refreshing take on the poem for people familiar with it it will also increase the opportunity of it being discovered and appreciated by kids of today’s wired generation.

The app sets a new standard for bringing a bound classic to the small screen.

Hours after its release last week it climbed to number 1 on the UK iTunes App Store book category. It was also the first poetry app in the US to become Apple’s official iPad App of the Week.

It is safe to say – The Waste Land has been enriched.

The app retails for for $13.99 (£7.99) from the App Store on iPad or at

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