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i--six nonlectures (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) (original 1953; edition 1991)

by e. e. cummings

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Member:arkaye
Title:i--six nonlectures (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures)
Authors:e. e. cummings
Info:Harvard University Press (1991), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 128 pages
Collections:Your library
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i--six nonlectures (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) by e. e. cummings (1953)

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E.E. Cummings was a poet and painter born in 1894. His father was a Harvard teacher, and he grew up surrounded by professors, one of whom read him poetry. He later attended Harvard University (BA, Greek and English, magna cum laude) and, after receiving an MA, volunteered as an ambulance driver in France.

This book collates the six Charles Eliot Norton Lectures that he gave at Harvard in 1952. Cummings talks charmingly about his very loving parents, about their car accident, about his glimpse of the mystery of nature, of Boston, his university friends. He quotes his favorite poets: Dante (in Italian), Shakespeare, Horace (in Latin), Wordsworth, Nashe, Swinburne, Walther von der Vogelweide (in German), Keats, and Shelley. Cummings subscribed to the “lost generation of adolescent American male” who did not decline to gamble and took risks. But it was in Paris that he really found the union of material and immaterial things, that he became himself.

A large portion of the book explains his poetics and (which amounts to the same thing) his philosophy in life. He went through 3 poetic stages: 1) individualistic, 2) goody-goody (good poems are those that help people), and 3) structural. Cummings likens himself to the burlesk comedian, “fond of precision which creates movement.” For Cummings, poetry is strictly about individuality. “Poetry is being, not doing.” It’s you who decide your fate. “Nobody can be alive for you.” “Personality is a mystery; mysteries alone are significant; love is the mystery of mysteries.”

For Cummings, civilization is composed of simple-minded people who know and who have simple ideas of “good” and “bad”; they measure things. Scientists are “knowledge salesmen” who kill individuality. On the other hand, complex people are considered ignorant; they feel instead of know. Cummings, siding with complex people, believes that there is no “good” or “bad”, only Art, a mystery, which is immeasurable. Art is the mystery of every immeasurable man, woman, and child. “Nothing measurable is alive.” To be alive is to be immeasurable. Thus, living is neither “good” nor “bad.” We are all an IS, obsessed with Making. Nonmakers believe “2x2=4,” but Makers believe “2x2=5.” The individual is imaginatively huge, an enormous room (At about this time, Freud’s idea of the subconscious was gaining ground, and the French Dadaist and Symbolist movements were in full swing).

Thus, the ultimate artist says: “I am an Artist, I am a Man, I am a Failure.” An artist is a solitary person who “sits on three chairs in Heaven.” He prizes “feeling” over thinking, believing, and knowing. The lesson is Selfhood and Selftranscendence. The limitless mystery of the individual is king. “Always the beautiful answer asks a more beautiful question.”

He published his first poetry book at 29, “Tulips and Chimneys,” which catapulted him to fame. ( )
  arkaye | Dec 17, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674440102, Paperback)

The author begins his "nonlectures" with the warning "I haven't the remotest intention of posing as a lecturer." Then, at intervals, he proceeds to deliver the following:

1. i & my parents
2. i & their son
3. i & selfdiscovery
4. i & you & is
5. i & now & him
6. i & am & santa claus

These talks contain selections from the poetry of Wordsworth, Donne, Shakespeare, Dante, and others, including e.e. cummings. Together, it forms a good introduction to the work of e.e. cummings.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:45 -0400)

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