T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land as iPad app

Classic modernist poem updated for the 21st century
Screenshots of the new T. S. Eliot iPad app
The Thought Fox, the official online blog of Faber &Faber, is promoting a new T. S. Eliot application for the Apple iPad. The app is dedicated to Eliot's most famous work, The Waste Land, and includes the full published text of 1922, video and audio readings, personal retrospectives, and explanatory notes. Henry Volans had this to say:
We deliberately chose a major work to demonstrate a serious commitment to the possibilities of digital publishing. We wanted to put more than a toe in the water. The enthusiastic support of the Eliot Estate has been vital: I can’t stress enough how much it improves a project, particularly an experimental one, when the work is undertaken in a collaborative spirit. There isn’t room for suspicion.

For multimedia we used a simple criterion: to apply the same standards that we would to the commissioning and typesetting of Faber poetry in print. To help ensure we didn’t lose our critical faculties in the use of video we recruited Adam Low, director of the award-winning BBC Arena documentary on Eliot. Adam and his experienced partners filmed not only all the Perspectives but also Fiona Shaw’s magnificent performance of the poem.

Audio components include archival and newly-commissioned recordings: we raided vaults for readings by Eliot himself, Ted Hughes and Alec Guinness; then invited Viggo Mortensen, himself a poet as well as actor, to introduce a contemporary American voice.

So what characterises The Waste Land for iPad? There is a lot in it, for a start. But importantly it is all contained in a clean, simple package. Many of our earliest ideas were discarded as needlessly complex, or nice in theory but worse in practice. We aim to present the poem first, and performances, readings, notes and perspectives only in service to it.[Read More]


  • A specially-commissioned filmed performance of the poem by Fiona Shaw
  • Two readings by Eliot himself, from 1933 and 1947
  • A reading by Viggo Mortensen made for this electronic edition
  • Ted Hughes’s reading from the Faber archive
  • Alec Guinness’s reading available as an in-app purchase
  • A rich array of video perspectives from Seamus Heaney, Paul Keegan, Jim McCue, Craig Raine, Fiona Shaw, Frank Turner and Jeanette Winterson
  • Explanatory notes
  • Innovative navigation tools

About the app


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