E. E. Cummings : A Life
One of the Best Books of the Year: The Economist, San Francisco Chronicle
Cummings, in his radical experimentation with form, punctuation, spelling, and syntax, created a new kind of poetic expression. Because of his powerful work, he became a generation’s beloved heretic—at the time of his death he was one of the most widely read poets in the United States.
Now, in this rich, illuminating biography, Susan Cheever traces the development of the poet and his work. She takes us from Cummings’s seemingly idyllic childhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts, through his years at Harvard (rooming with Dos Passos, befriending Malcolm Cowley and Lincoln Kirstein). There, he devoured the poetry of Ezra Pound, whose radical verses lured the young writer away from the politeness of the traditional nature poem 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—Marianne Moore and Hart Crane, among them. E. E. Cummings is a revelation of the man and the poet, and a brilliant reassessment of the freighted path of his legacy.