The Guardian recently documented a June trek of 25 people through the city of London, on (TS Eliot’s The Waste Land 2012 – a multimedia walk, (Henry Eliot, 30 July 2012). That a poem written in the early 20th Century remains resonant with people who live nearly a century later offers a testament to its often misunderstood and always daunting language, allusion and structure.
But being citizens of the 21st Century, we need not rely solely on the manuscript and printed commentary to bring the poem to us. With new devices like Apple’s iPad, the very idea of the book as a book has been reconsidered. The Waste Land, a cooperative work between Touch Press, Faber and Faber, BBC Arena and other collaborators, releases the text of the poem through the lens of the iPad. From its earliest incarnations, The Waste Land was as much a initiator of non-fiction as it was a poem. As Eliot sought to pad out his poem for book publication, he included a series of notes, which have become famous in their own right. The scholarship and commentary on the poem continues with the Touch Press treatment, which migrates much of its new insights from print to video.