You are on page 1of 14

World Literature

A Study of the Edward Estlin Cummings and his Works

A Research Paper Presented to Prof. Matilde Bangoy Mapua Institute of Technology

In partial fulfilment of the requirements in Readings in World Literature (HUM15)

By: Nikko Espiritu Regina Gavino Norman Grecia III

September 2012

World Literature

Table of Contents: Introduction Body of Research Early Life, Education ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3 4 4 5 5 6 6 6 7 7 7 8 9 9 10 10 11 12 13 14

Life During the World War--------------------------------------------------------Marriage to Elaine Orr -----------------------------------------------------------

Tulips & Chimney and XLI Poems ----------------------------------------------Artistic and Literary Revolution -------------------------------------------------Death of his Father and his Transition Period ----------------------------------Marriage to Anne Minnerly Barton ----------------------------------------------Love Affair with Marion Morehouse --------------------------------------------Peak of Success, Final Years------------------------------------------------------Death and Aftermath -----------------------------------------------------------

Political and Religious Views ----------------------------------------------------Writing Style Themes and Motifs Behind ee cummings Awards Works Conclusion Bibliography -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

World Literature

Introduction:

The world of traditional literature full of romantic words, carefully crafted words under the grammar rules and goodness was stricken by an obscure writer and his obscure thoughts With his distinct style and unconventional way of writing, EE Cummings made his mark in the world of Artistry and Literature. His transcendentalism and obscure ideologies made quite a stir and is still a subject of controversy in among literary critics, but Cummings works showed a raw voice of honest emotion that can only be expressed in the way he can. Cummings is also considered as one of the greatest love poets in America, and at the same time, was able to portray both the wholesome and sensual side without fear of censorship. This study shows the life of Edward Estlin Cummings, and what made him in his entirety and his style stand out from everyone else.

World Literature

Body of the Research:

Early Life Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father, Edward Cummings was a sociology professor at Harvard University. He later on became nationally known as Old South Churchs minister in Boston, Massachusetts. His mother, Rebecca Haswelle Clark was a housewife. Edward Estlin also had one sibling, Elizabeth Cummings. Outside family, Edward grew up with the company of some of their family friends like William James and Josiah Royce. It was said that his mother introduced young Edward to literature. Edward at an early age of eight years old started writing poetries. Aside from writing, Edward Estlin also paints.

Education Belonging to a well-off family, Edwards family was able to afford to send him in a good school that is Harvard University. In Harvard, Edwards talent in writing poetry was honed more, and he soon developed and adapted a distinct style that became his identifier. After graduation, he worked as a book dealer.

World Literature

Life during the World War I When the First World War in Europe sparked, Edward along with his friend John Dos Passos enlisted for Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps. By some mistake, Edward didnt end up in the Ambulance Corps. He stayed in Paris for five weeks, and returned after. During Edwards service in the Ambulance Corps, he and his friend William Slater Brown became under the suspicion due to the letters they sent to their family where they expressed their lack of hatred to the German. They were arrested for the charge of suspicion of espionage and undesirable activities for three and a half months in a military detention camp at Normandy. His father tried to appeal for Edwards release through diplomatic channels, and even wrote to President Wilson in December 1917. Edward was released shortly after, and his friend William Brown two months after. His experience in the detention camp became an inspiration on one of the books that he wrote called The Enormous Room as they were detained in a large room. He returned to the United States of America in New Years Day of 1918, and was drafted into the army. He served in the 12th Division at Camp Devens, Massachusetts until the end of the said year.

Marriage to Elaine Orr The relationship of Orr and Cummings started as an extramarital affair, since Elaine Orr was then married to Scofield Thayer who was Cummings friend from Harvard. The affair produced a daughter, Nancy Cummings, who was Edwards only child in his lifetime. Thayer divorced Orr, and Elaine married Cummings shortly after in March 19, 1924. However, they separated two months after and divorced nine months later. Elaine left Cummings for a wealthy Irish banker and went to Ireland with Nancy. With the courts order, Cummings was granted three months of Nancys custody, but Elaine never abide. Cummings never saw her daughter again after which.

World Literature

Tulips and Chimney and XLI Poems In 1921, Cummings returned to Paris and stayed there for two years. He went back to New York and settled in a tiny apartment in Greenwich Village. After which, his poem collection called Tulips and Chimney was published in 1923. In 1925, XLI Poems was published. Tulips and Chimney were cut by the editor due to Cummings intense grammatical and syntax errors. XLI Poems has the same characteristics. These two collections was his debut on the avant-garde poetry. He received a Dial Award in 1925, but it still made the publishers not get his works.

Artistic and Literary Revolution in Europe The artistic and literary revolution has not reached the United States yet so he decided to go to Europe. Cummings returned to Paris to participate in the revolution. He also travelled through Europe for meetings, and one time was with the famous Pablo Picasso. He went to the Soviet Union in 1931, and wrote something inspired from it called Eimi which was published in 1933. He travelled through Northern America and Mexico too, while working as an essayist and portrait artist for Vanity Fair magazine in 1924-1927.

Death of his Father and his Transition Period Cummings father was killed in a car accident in 1926. His mother fortunately survived albeit heavily injured. He wrote about a detailed passage of the accident in one of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures. The death of his father affected Cummings massively. He focused his works on a more important aspect of life. This new perspective was, he said, in paying respect and gratitude to his father. He wrote a poem also in memory of his father called, my father moved through dooms of love.

World Literature

Marriage to Anne Minnerly Barton Cummings married her second wife, Anne Minnerly Barton in May 1, 1929. However, they separated three years later. In 1932, Anne acquired a Mexican divorce but it wasnt acknowledged in the United States until 1934.

Love Affair with Marion Morehouse Cummings met the fashion model and photographer Marion Morehouse in 1932. They lived together under informal marriage until Cummings died.

Peak of Success In the late 1950s, Cummings published another collection entitled Poems1923-1954 with a whole new style that is revolutionary. It put off a lot of his readers because of his fierce individuality and extreme self-centeredness. There he also emerged as a star on the college lecture circuit that is the Charlie Eliot Norton Lectures.

Final Years Cummings Alma Mater, Harvard University awarded him an honorary seat as a guest professor in 1952. He gave out the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures in 1952 and 1955, and was called i: six nonlectures. Cummings made the most out of his life on his last decade by continuing travelling, accepting speaking engagements, and having vacations at Silver Lake, New Hampshire, where he had a summer house.

World Literature

Death and Aftermath He died of stroke on September 3 at the age of 67 in North Conway, New Hampshire at the Memorial Hospital. His body was cremated and buried in Forest Hills Cemetery and Crematory in Boston. In 1969, seven years later, his third wife Marion Morehouse died and was buried next to him. Other unpublished works and papers are at Houghton Library at Harvard University and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

World Literature

Political and Religious Views Cummings was not interested with politics until his visit to the Soviet Union. It sparked his dislike to the communism of the government. He was though a Republican, and a supporter of Joseph McCarthy. Edward was born in an Unitarianism family, which played a big role to the ideology he developed afterwards. He later described his spiritual relationship with God as an I, Thou relationship, which later reflected on his writings and personal journals.

Writing Style Cummings was known for his avant-garde style in writing. He had no regards of the conventional grammar and syntax, which was found by a lot of his critic as very immature and unprofessional. However, his themes were surprisingly traditional. His poems are mostly sonnets, but a modern twist and satirical remarks. He dwelt also on the theme of love and nature, as well as the relationship of the individuals with the society. A lot of his poems and works are not punctuated accordingly, with inappropriate non-capitalizing of the supposed words, combining words to produce his own meaning or a hidden meaning, and more intentional typographical errors. Though his works appear to be on free verse, many scholars believe that they were sonnets with complicated rhyme schemes.

World Literature

10

Themes and Motifs He was deeply influenced by Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell. When he was in Paris, he was introduced to the works of Dada and the concept of surrealism, which later on reflected on his works. He seldom used simile, and prefers metaphors in incorporating symbols and imageries in his poems. Cummings transcendentalism with his ideology made so many rejections with publishers. He was obscure, and publishers and editors dont trust that it will sell. Because of that, Cummings had to shoulder the expenses of publishing independently.

Behind ee cummings The initials of Cummings written in lowercase on the spines and covers of some of his books started in 1960s. A critic who wrote a biography on his life, Harry Moore said that Cummings intentionally put his name as such in his books. His third wife Marion Morehouse disagreed on this, and told that Harry Moore should stop a stupid and childish statement about Cummings and his signature. Scholars believe however, that Cummings sometimes signed in lowercase as a gesture of humility and not something more profound than that.

World Literature

11

Awards: Dial Award (1925) Guggenheim Fellowship (1933) Shelley Memorial Award for Poetry (1944) Harriet Monroe Prize from Poetry magazine (1950) Fellowship of American Academy of Poets (1950) Guggenheim Fellowship (1951) Charles Eliot Norton Professorship at Harvard (19521953) Special citation from the National Book Award Committee for his Poems, 19231954 (1957) Bollingen Prize in Poetry (1958) Boston Arts Festival Award (1957) Two-year Ford Foundation grant of $15,000 (1959)

World Literature

12

Works of EE Cummings The Enormous Room (1922) Tulips and Chimneys (1923) Tulips & Chimneys (1925) (self-published) XLI Poems (1925) is 5 (1926) HIM (1927) (a play) ViVa (1931) EIMI (1933) (Soviet travelogue) No Thanks (1935) Collected Poems (1960) 50 Poems (1940) 1 1 (1944) XAIPE: Seventy-One Poems (1950) isix nonlectures (1953) Harvard University Press Poems, 19231954 (1954) 95 Poems (1958) 73 Poems (1963) (posthumous) Fairy Tales (1965) (posthumous)

World Literature

13

Conclusion:

Edward Estlin Cummings, or EE Cummings, the name most people know. He is a well-known writer from the 1900s. His most famous writings were from 1922 1958. He was introduced to literature by his mother. At the age of eight, he already began writing poems. Belonging in a well-off family, he was able to receive his education at Harvard University and hone his writing skills. Cummings life that had many unwanted situations inspired him to write his beautiful poems. His writing style, which he developed at Harvard, was new to the eyes of his generation. The uniqueness and unusual style of his works made his way in the peak of success. Though he was criticized by the way he writes but still his readers find the value of the mystical and revolutionary forms of his works. His linguistic inventiveness that manipulates the traditional form of writing marks his legacy in literature. He was a poet who, despite all the adversity continued doing his service to the world by his literature. His poems have inspired many hearts to writing, until today.

World Literature

14

Bibliography: Encyclopedia of World biographies, EE Cummings Biography http://www.notablebiographies.com/Co-Da/Cummings-E-E.html#b Friedman, N., E. E. Cummings: The Growth of a Writer. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964. Kennedy, R., Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E. E. Cummings. New York: Liveright, 1980. Marks, B., E. E. Cumming, New York: Twayne Publishers, 1964. Norman, C., E. E. Cummings: The Magic-Maker. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1958. Laucanno, C. ; EE Cummings: A Biography (source of the blog post written by Jonathan Yardley) Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, E. E. Cummings http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._E._Cummings Yardley, J. (2004), Washington Post EE Cummings: A Biography http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34132-2004Oct14.html