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Cummings, Edward Estlin. (1894 - 1962).

P o e t r y

C o n t e n t :

- scorned the mediocre values of the ‘most-people’ against the bohemian tastes of the artist: celebrated an individual against the mass society

- scorned the conventional verbal traditions, political pieties, and conventional standards of behaviour: delighted in the bohemian culture

- preoccupied with the themes of childlike egotism, irrepressible impudence, and untroubled sexual pleasure

- his love poems often sexually explicit x but: his belief of all desires being simple ones often led him into a conventional sentimentalising of the erotic life

- retained his eagerness to admit and express in a tender lyricism the traditional emotions of love, sadness, etc.

F o r m :

(a) Early Poetry:

< influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and Metaphysical writers: his intricate stanza patterns

(b) Mature Poetry:

< G. Apollinaire and S. Mallarmé: his clever formal innovation

< R. W. Emerson, H. D. Thoreau, and W. Whitman: his flexible immediacy of style

- paid attention to the visual form of the poem: experimented with capitalisation x lack of it, with punctuation, line breaks, hyphenation, and verse shapes

- used common speech and elements of popular culture

- perceived the life as being always in process: wrote untitled poems lacking beginnings/endings, and consisting of fragmentary lines

- aspired less to reshape poetry than T. S. Eliot, E. Pound, W. Stevens, or W. C. Williams

- wrote poetry simpler in thought and technique than the major modernists: felt a greater continuity with the American past

=> a capacity for language play, humour, and vivid satire of America

Tulips and Chimneys (1923)

P r o s e

The Enormous Room (1922):

- his own experience as a prisoner of his own side in a French prison camp during the WW I

- an ironic and absurd celebration of the ordinary soldier x an attack on the bureaucratic insensitivity

Eimi (1933):

- an account of his travels in Russia after the rise of Stalin

- irrepressibly energetic in style, and rich in rapidly noted sensory detail


(Photo: Walter Albertin. 1953. Source: Wikimedia Commons).

  • Author

    Edward Estlin Cummings. Aka e. e. cummings. (1894 - 1962). American.
  • Work

    Poet. Prose writer. Author of Tulips and Chimneys (1923).
  • Genre



Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


"life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis"

From the collection is 5 (1926).


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