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’spreeminent twentieth-century poets.
E. E. Cummings’ radical experimentation with form, punctuation,spelling, and syntax resulted in his creation of a new, idiosyncratic means ofpoetic expression. And while there was critical disagreement about his work (Edmund Wilson called it “hideous,” while Malcolm Cowley called him “unsurpassedin 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 thedevelopment of the poet and his work. She takes us from Cummings’ seeminglyidyllic 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 youngwriter away from the politeness of the traditional nature poem and towards a moreadventurous, 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 abrilliant reassessment of the freighted path of his legacy.