Friday, 16 November 2012

The Waste Land for iPad

As screen technologies advance, the possibilities for publication design expand. In particular, publications for digital tablets are changing the way information is organised and presented as a ‘text.’ An innovative example is an edition of T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ for the iPad, produced by Touch Press in 2011. The edition takes a primary text – the full poem – and presents it simply: classically typeset in a continuous scroll, with a basic menu to navigate the poem’s five parts. However, the primary text is packaged with an archive of paratexts: snippets of video commentary show writers, actors, theatre directors, musicians, academics and publishers discussing Eliot’s life and work; a highly produced performance of the poem, filmed specially for this edition; readings by famous actors, poets and Eliot himself in 1933 and 1944; a facsimile of Eliot’s original manuscript, hand-edited by Ezra Pound; and a gallery of photographs and other images with annotations relating them to the poem. The reader can dip into this readily accessible archive of paratexts to elaborate the poem, in a variety of ways. Rather than trying to replicate the feeling of a print book, this publication offers moving image, audio and images that enhances and extends the original poem.

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