E.E. Cummings Goes to White Castle

01Feb14

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Susan Cheever’s new biography on E.E. Cummings seems like a fascinating read. Check out this excerpt published in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, “The Prince of Patchin Place.” I was riveted, reading it, especially this:

As we turned out of the school’s genteel and leafy driveway and down the hill to Route 9, headed for the vibrant city, Cummings let out a deep, comic sigh of relief. My father drove, and Cummings talked, mocking the teachers who were making my life miserable—he said the place was more like a prison than a school. It was a hatchery whose goal was to produce uniformity. I was unhappy there? No wonder! I was a spirited and wise young woman. Only a mindless moron (Cummings loved alliteration) could excel in a place like that. What living soul could even survive a week in that assembly line for obedient girls, that pedagogical factory whose only purpose was to turn out so-called educated wives for upper-class blowhards with red faces and swollen bank balances? I had been told not to be so negative all the time. Cummings reminded me of his friend Marianne Moore’s fondness for the admonition: you mustn’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out.

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