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William Shakespeare's Sonnets is a collection of 154 poems that deal with love and beauty, and this new app from Touch Press is an extremely original way to experience them all. The company is rather adept at making very clever reference works for the iPad, like the excellent The Elements and Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy, and The Sonnets by William Shakespeare continues in that tradition.
You can enjoy each and every Sonnet as it’s being recited by an actor well-versed in Shakespearean poetry, like Patrick Stewart, David Tennant, Simon Callow, and Oliver Ford Davies, among many others. Filming 42 actors isn’t cheap, and may explain the app’s relatively high price, but does make for an enjoyable and highly unique experience.
The attention to detail can be found everywhere: While in portrait view, you can see the video and read the sonnet at the same time. Further, the correct line is highlighted as the actor speaks it. You also have access to the Arden Notes, along with a written commentary by Don Paterson for each sonnet, and you can even see a copy of the sonnets as they appeared in the First Folio edition -- the first time they were all published together.
The Sonnets offers a place to write your own notes, but you can't collate them together; they appear to be linked to the currently selected sonnet. A sharing option is included, but it merely links to a webpage for that particular filmed performance, rather than an opportunity to share your own notes. You also can't copy and paste from either the sonnet or the notes and commentary, which can be frustrating if you need to quote something -- you'll have to copy it the old fashioned way.
The bottom line. With professional, high quality recordings, plus clear text and comprehensive notes, The Sonnets by William Shakespeare is a great reference app. It's a shame that it's so expensive, though.
iPad running iOS 5.0 or later
All Sonnets are performed by known actors. Notes and commentaries are clear. Works in either orientation.
Can't copy and paste from the text. Video and sonnet aren't both viewable at same time in landscape view. Sharing option is limited to video link.All Sonnets are performed by known actors. Notes and commentaries are clear. Works in either orientation.