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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