E.E. Cummings remains one of America’s best loved poets; but is often also regarded as it’s least understood, or so the critics have often attested. The fact is, that E.E. Cummings was not only a skilled poet, but also a playwright, author, and illustrator (even working for Vanity Fair magazine as a portraitist and illustrator alongside his printed word). Perhaps some of the mercurial fame that he has garnered since his death is that, unlike other avant-garde, symbolist, or modernist poets and authors of his time (think Ezra Pound, Hemmingway, Elliot) E.E. Cummings refused to ‘nail his colors’ to just one mast, whether in poetic style, literature, or in politics. His intensely personal reflections on death, love, marriage, sex and family remain universally applicable to many of America’s working poor and rising middle classes.
During his life E.E. Cummings progressed from the Transcendentalism and Romanticism of the American New England scene into the robustly provocative Modernist one – albeit without ever provoking or courting controversy for its own sake (as cannot be said for some of his contemporaries)! Perhaps this then, is the secret of his great appeal: that he bridged poetic and philosophical traditions, whilst still remaining a clearly unique authorial style. He played with meter, rhyme, grammar and form in a way that fits more closely with the later Beats and postmodernist poets of the fifties and sixties, and yet did not descend into Dadaist symbolism or surrealism.
For the collector, E.E. Cummings can be a joy to collect, his works requiring not only patience and dedication, but some detective work! The first edition of his first semi-autobiographical novel The Enormous Room for example (Bonni & Liveright, 1922) has a notoriously fragile dustjacket cover (white illustration with characteristic red ‘x’) that will undoubtedly have signs of tear or foxing due to its simple manufacture. However, one in as near or very good condition as can be expected can be worth up to $1000 or more, if signed!
Similar to the above, a first edition of his very first poetry collection Tulips and Chimneys (Thomas Seltzer, New York, 1923) is worth $300 or $400 if in good condition without its dustjacket, but with it’s very rare white dustjacket is worth easily above $1500! As with all collections; the work of E.E. Cummings perhaps goes to show just how important the condition and full book articles (dustjacket, slip case, signatures) can be!
Cummings, E. E. The Enormous Room. Boni And Liveright (1922). Second Issue Has Censored Word On Page 219.
Cummings, E. E. Tulips And Chimneys. Thomas Seltzer (1923). First Printing
Cummings, E. E. Is Five. Boni and Liveright (1926). 77 Signed, Numbered Copies
Cummings, E. E. Him. Boni and Liveright (1927). 160 Signed, Numbered Copies; Vellum-Backed Boards.
Cummings, E. E. The Enormous Room. Jonathan Cape (1928). First Uk Edition; Introduction By Robert Graves; First Impression. This English Edition Follows The American One By Six Years And Is Accompanied By An Introduction By Robert Graves Himself Also A Veteran Of Ww1. An Account Of The Author’S Incarceration In A French Prison.
Cummings, E. E. No Title. Covici Friede (1930). 491 Signed, Numbered Copies; Illustrations By Author; Cummings Untitled Book With Illustrations By The Author, A Collection Of Whimsical Pieces Opening With A Dialogue Between A Publisher And Author Explaining That The Book Has No Title Whatsoever: Thereafter, Chapters Titled The Garden Of Eden, The Death Of Abraham Lincoln, The Swan And Leda, The Friend In Need, The Spinsters Dilemma, The Helping Hand, The First Robin and The Dog In The Manger, Each Preceded By An Illustration By Cummings.
Cummings, E. E. Whither, Whither, Or After Sex, What?. The Macaulay Company (1930). Wilson, Edmund, Thurber, James, Hankel, Walter S., Gropper, Bill, White, E. B., Cummings, E. E.; A Symposium To End Symposiums; Edited By Walter S. Hankel. Illustrated By Bill Gropper. Contains The First Book Appearance Of Gorgonzola: Or The Future Of Literary Criticism By Edmund Wilson, Quo Vadimus? Or The Fate Of Complexity By E. B. White, Freud: Or The Future Of Psychoanalysis By James Thurber.
E. E. Cummings. CIOPW. Covici Friede (1931). Charcoal, Ink, Oil Paint and Watercolor; 391 Signed, Numbered Copies
Cummings, E E. EIMI. Covici Friede (1933). I Am; 1381 Signed, Numbered Copies
Cummings, E. E. The Red Front .. Chapel Hill, NC (1933). In Contempo; Cummings Translation From The French Of Louis Aragons Poem; 200 Copies
Cummings, E. E. Tom. The Rydal Press, Santa Fe, NM (1935). Colour Frontis. By Ben Shahn A Ballet Based On Uncle Toms Cabin;
Cummings, E. E. Tulips and Chimneys. Golden Eagle Press, Mount Vernon (1937). Archetype Edition Of The Original Ms 1922; 148 Signed, Numbered Copies; 481 Numbered Copies; Contains All Of The Poems In His First Book (Tulips And Chimneys, Plus 84 More Poems That Were In The Original Manuscript But Did Not Appear In The Published Volume.
Cummings, E. E. 50 Poems. Duell, Sloan And Pearce (1940). 150 Hand-Numbered, Signed Copies; 1000 Trade Edition Copies
Cummings, E. E. 1 X 1. Henry Holt (1944). First Issue
Cummings, E. E. Anthropos. Golden Eagle Press, Mount Vernon (1944). Or The Future Of Art; 222 Copies
Cummings, E. E. Santa Claus, A Morality. Henry Holt and Company (1946). 250 Signed, Numbered Copies
Cummings, E. E. i: Six Nonlectures. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA (1953). 350 Signed, Numbered Copies
Cummings, E.e. 95 Poems. Harcourt, Brace and World (1958). First Printing
Cummings, E. E. Complete Poems 1913-1962.. MacGibbon and Kee. (1968). First Uk Edition; 2 Volumes; 150 Numbered Copies. An Authorised Typewriter Edition Of 770 Collected, 45 Uncollected And 20 Unpublished Poems Recreated From The Poets Manuscripts With Bibliographical And Textual Notes By George James Firmage.
Cummings, E.E. SANTA CLAUS.. Editions de L'Herne (1974). 175 Numbered Copies
Cummings, E. E. NO THANKS.. Editions Poetry and Prose, Exetor (1982). 65 Numbered Copies.