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An incisive biography of E. E. Cummings’s early life explores his World War I ambulance service, which inspired his inventive poetry.
Renowned for his formally fractured, gleefully alive poetry, E. E. Cummings is not often thought of as a war poet. But his experience as a prisoner during the war in La Ferté-Macé (the basis for his first work of prose, The Enormous Room), and his first love, the French prostitute Marie Louise Lallemand, escalated his earliest breaks with conventional form—the innovation with which his name would soon become synonymous.
The Beauty of Living follows Cummings from his Cambridge upbringing and Harvard education through his time at the front during the Great War.
Probing an under-examined yet formative time in the poet’s life, this deeply researched account illuminates his ideas about love, justice, humanity, and brutality. Cummings scholar J. Alison Rosenblitt weaves together letters, journal entries, and sketches with astute analyses of poems that span Cummings’s career, revealing the origins of one of the twentieth century’s most famous poets.
About the Author: J. Alison Rosenblitt is the director of studies in classics and ancient history at Regent's Park College, University of Oxford. The author of E. E. Cummings' Modernism and the Classics: Each Imperishable Stanza, she lives in England.