I recently reviewed Touch Press’s wonderful app that lets you take a close look at Liszt’s piano sonata. Touch Press is leading the pack in innovative “cultural” apps, about music and literature. Another of their apps is the $14 The Sonnets by William Shakespeare (iPad only; 1.5 GB), a multimedia exploration of the bard’s 154 sonnets which is, quite simply, fascinating.
When exploring the sonnets, what would you like to have at hand to help you appreciate them? Notes? Commentary? Readings? This app gives you all three. It provides notes from the Arden Shakespeare edition of the sonnets: these notes help you with the context of each sonnet, and also give you definitions for words whose meanings have changed.
You get insightful commentary from Don Paterson’s Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets.
You get video readings of each of the sonnets, by many famous actors and scholars, the same that are available on this DVD. Readers include Patrick Stewart, David Tennant, Kim Cattrall, Fiona Shaw, Stephen Fry and Dominic West. And you can stream the performances to an Apple TV using AirPlay.
And you even get a facsimile view of the sonnets from the 1609 Quarto, if you want to see what the sonnets looked like on paper when they were first published.
I have to admit, as much as I’m a Shakespeare geek, I’ve never really gotten into the sonnets. Maybe reading them on a page isn’t the best way to appreciate them. With this app, I’ve started developing my understanding of these poems, using the notes, commentary and readings to help me appreciate their nuances.
Touch Press has done a great job of providing an easy to use interface that lets you switch among the different resources. If you like Shakespeare, get this app. You’ll discover things about the sonnets you never knew, and you’ll get lost in Shakespeare’s poetry.