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A major reassessment of the life and work of the novelist, painter, and playwright considered to be one of America's preeminent twentieth-century poets. Cummings was and remains controversial--called "a master" or "hideous." In Susan Cheever's rich biography we see his idyllic childhood years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his sternly religious father and his loving, attentive mother. We see Cummings--slight, agile, playful, a product of a nineteenth-century New England childhood; his love of nature; his sense of fun, laughter, mimicry; his desire from the get-go to stand conventional wisdom on its head. At Harvard, he earned two degrees, discovered alcohol, fast cars, and burlesque, and raged against the school's exclusionary upper-class rule. He grew into a dark young man and set out on a lifelong course of rebellion against conventional authority. Headstrong and cavalier, he volunteered as an ambulance driver in World War I, working alongside Hemingway and Joyce. He permanently fled to Greenwich Village to be among other modernist poets of the day, and we see the development of both the poet and his work against the backdrop of modernism. Cheever's book gives us the evolution of an artist whose writing was at the forefront of what was new and daring and bold in an America in transition.--From publisher description.