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Extended Audio Sample E. E. Cummings: A Life, by Susan Cheever Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Susan Cheever Narrator: Stefan Rudnicki Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From the acclaimed author of My Name Is Bill and Home before Dark comes a major reassessment of the life and work of one of America’s preeminent twentieth-century poets.

E. E. Cummings’ radical experimentation with form, punctuation, spelling, and syntax resulted in his creation of a new, idiosyncratic means of poetic expression. And while there was critical disagreement about his work (Edmund Wilson called it “hideous,” while Malcolm Cowley called him “unsurpassed in his field”), at the time of his death in 1962, at age sixty-seven, he was, after Robert Frost, the most widely read poet in the United States.

Now, in this new biography, Susan Cheever traces the development of the poet and his work. She takes us from Cummings’ seemingly idyllic childhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts, through his years at Harvard (rooming with Dos Passos, befriending Malcolm Cowley and Lincoln Kirstein) where the radical verse of Ezra Pound lured the young writer away from the politeness of the traditional nature poem and towards a more adventurous, sexually conscious form. We follow Cummings to Paris in 1917 and, finally, to Greenwich Village to be among other modernist poets of the day, including Marianne Moore and Hart Crane.

Rich and illuminating, E. E. Cummings: A Life is a revelation of the man and the poet, and a brilliant reassessment of the freighted path of his legacy.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Cheever’s reconsideration of Cummings and his work charms, rattles, and enlightens in emulation of Cummings’ radically disarming, tender, sexy, plangent, and furious poems.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Even those with no interest in modern poetry may want to listen to the story of Cummings’ life; it has all the elements of drama, and then some. Those who are familiar with the poetry or the two prose books…will find it irresistible. Stefan Rudnicki’s measured narration resists sensationalism and, when the notoriously difficult poems are quoted, manages to convey something of their sense and formal structure. He reflects the intimate tone of this biography…without losing the author’s analytical distance.”


  • “Drawing on letters, archival material, and several more comprehensive biographies, Cheever distills the major events of Cummings’ life along with reflections on the challenge of interpreting her subject’s self-destructive behavior, anti-Semitism, sexuality, and egotism…This sympathetic life may win Cummings a new generation of readers.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author
Author Susan Cheever

Susan Cheever was born in New York City and graduated from Brown University. A Guggenheim Fellow and a director of the board of the Yaddo Corporation, she currently teaches in the MFA programs at Bennington College and the New School. She lives in New York City.