William Palmer

Manunkind

E E Cummings: A Biography

By

Methuen 606pp £25 order from our bookshop

It is something of a surprise to see the name of the subject of this book printed in a conventional way: for most of his appearances in print it was resolutely ‘e e cummings’, all of a piece with the lack of capitalisation, the experimental layout and the visual idiosyncrasy of his writings.

Despite the seemingly avant-garde nature of his work, Cummings was, at the end of his life, famous and widely read, probably because he was a relatively simple poet whose meaning is usually plain once his manner and methods are understood. The man revealed by the work is impulsive, obsessed by beauty, disgusted by cruelty, and not afraid to be sentimental occasionally. The man in Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno’s book, written with the aid of Cummings’s own papers and journals, is more complex and rather less attractive.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • With our February issue about to go to press, enjoy a slice of LR history - Hilary Mantel on Joan Haslip's biograph… ,
    • What did London look like in the 6th Century? Rory Naismith's 'Citadel of the Saxons' tries to answer that questi… ,
    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,