E. E. Cummings:  A Miscellany Revised

(New York: October House, 1965)

We present here the contents and first page of the introduction to A Miscellany Revised, a book that collects almost all of EEC's occasional prose pieces, most of which date from the 20s and 30s. The volume is long out of print, but its poems ("Ballad of an Intellectual" and EEC's translation of Louis Aragon's "The Red Front") appear in the most recent Complete Poems

Also, the anthology AnOther E. E. Cummings, edited by Richard Kostlanetz and John Rocco (Liveright, 1998) reprints "The New Art," "Vanity Fair’s Prize Movie Scenario," "Seven Samples of Dramatic Criticism," "The Adult, the Artist and the Circus," "Coney Island," and "Foreword to an Exhibit: II." 

Portions of Cummings' essay on Krazy Kat ("A Foreword to Krazy") are available on Peter Campbell's now-archived Krazy site, Coconino County.

Maria Popova discusses the essay "The Agony of the Artist" in her blog post "The Agony of the Artist (with a capital A): E. E. Cummings on What It Really Means to Be an Artist and His Little-Known Line Drawings." 

We offer here links to edited and annotated versions of three essays that are in the public domain in the United States: "The New Art" (1915), "Gaston Lachaise" (1920), and "T. S. Eliot" (1920). In addition, we have begun to offer notes to other essays, particularly  "The Theatre: II" and "Coney Island." 

 

Contents:

Introduction by George J. Firmage vii

Foreword by E. E. Cummings 3
The New Art 5
Gaston Lachaise 12
T. S. Eliot 25
The Soul Story of Gladys Vanderdecker 30
Vanity Fair’s Prize Movie Scenario 40
What Our Loving Subscribers Say 47
An Ex-Multimillionaire’s Rules for Success in Life 52
A Modern Gulliver Explores the Movies 59
When Calvin Coolidge Laughed 68
William Adams-Wiggley: Genius and Christian 74
Seven Samples of Dramatic Criticism 86
Unexpected Light on the Dawes Plan 91
Jean Cocteau As a Graphic Artist 98
How to Succeed As an Author 105
The Adult, the Artist and the Circus 109
The Very Latest School in Art 115
Helen Whiffletree, American Poetess 121
You Aren’t Mad, Am I? 126
"I Confess!" 132
"I Take Great Pleasure in Presenting" 127
The Theatre: I 141
The Theatre: II 145
Coney Island 149
Conflicting Aspects of Paris 154
Vive la Folie! 159
How I Do Not Love Italy 164
[end p. v]

The Tabloid Newspaper 169
The Secret of the Zoo Exposed 174
Frenzied Finance 179
Ivan Narb: Abstract Sculptor of the Cosmic 184
The Agony of the Artist (with a capital A) 189
Why I Like America 194
The New Mother Goose 199
Mr. X 205
Miracles and Dreams 211
A Book without a Title 215
Brief Biography 247
A Fairy Tale 249
The Red Front 252
And It Came to Pass 274
Ballad of an Intellectual 277
Weligion Is Hashish 280
In Memoriam 283
Exit the Boob 286
Burlesque, I Love It! 292
Speech from an Unfinished Play: I 296
Speech from an Unfinished Play: II 298
Speech from an Unfinished Play: III 300
Fair Warning 306
What about It? 307
Re Ezra Pound: I 312
Re Ezra Pound: II 313
Foreword to an Exhibit: I 314
Foreword to an Exhibit: II 316
Foreword to an Exhibit: III 318
Foreword to an Exhibit: IV 319
Is Something Wrong? 321
A Foreword to Krazy 323
Words into Pictures 329
Jottings 330
Videlicet 333
A Poet’s Advice to Students 335
[end p. vi]




Introduction

The prose and poetry of E. E. Cummings, as well as the life and times of the late poet-painter, have recently received the long overdue attention of several able critics and a biographer.[1] To add yet another introduction to this body of Cummings criticism is not the intention of the editor nor was it the wish of Mr. Cummings. His own brief foreword to the original edition of this book was all that he wanted said. However, a word or two about this volume’s history might not be out of place.

A Miscellany—as published in 1958 in an edition limited to seventy-five signed and less than a thousand unsigned copies—contained "a cluster of epigrams," forty-nine essays, a poem and three speeches from as many unfinished plays. All of these pieces had been written for or first published in magazines, anthologies or art gallery catalogues. A considerable number of them were published under pseudonyms; a few appeared anonymously.

The original Miscellany was intended to be a gathering of all the shorter pieces by Cummings that had not previously been published in book form by the author himself. This intention did not fall far short of total realization; only six known appearances were purposely omitted. Three fairy tales, first published in the Harvard Wake, were being held for publication in book form [2] and three other stories [3] were left out at the request of the author who did not consider them successful.



1. Charles Norman, The Magic Maker: E. E. Cummings (New York: 1958; revised edition, New York: 1964); Norman Friedman, E. E. Cummings: the art of his poetry (Baltimore: 1960) and E. E. Cummings: The Growth of a Writer (Carbondale: 1964); S. V. Baum, ESTI: eec—E. E. Cummings and the Critics (East Lansing: 1962); and Barry Marks, E. E. Cummings (New York: 1964). The Prose and Poetry of E. E. Cummings, by Robert E. Wegner, is scheduled for publication in 1965.

2. The three tales and a fourth, unpublished one are soon to be issued in an edition illustrated by the young Canadian artist John Eaton. [Ed. note: this volume, Fairy Tales, is still in print.]

3. "The King" (The Harvard Monthly, July 1915); "Everybody’s Mother, Anybody’s Mate," by "An Anonymous Author" (Vanity Fair, October 1925); and "Little Red Riding Hood," by "Eugene Heltai" (Vanity Fair, March 1926).



A Miscellany Revised: Notes

"Vanity Fair's Prize Movie Scenario" (40-46)
C. E. Niltse = an anagram for "E. Estlin C[ummings]."

"The Adult, The Artist and the Circus" (109-114)
(114): DANGER DERIDING DEATH DEFYING DESPERATE DAREDEVIL DIAVOLO = loop-the-loop bicyclist "Diavolo." Several men performed this difficult stunt, which was very popular in the circus shows of the early 20th century. Most notable among the Diavolos are "J. C. Carter" (the stage name of one Conn Baker) and Robert (or George M.) Vandervoort. However, neither Carter (Baker) nor Vandervoort died while performing "at the motif, and in the execution of his art." In EIMI (1933), Cummings says that Diavolo "was killed in Havana” (430/410), but evidence for that claim is lacking as well. Vandervoort / Diavolo, who worked for the Forepaugh and Sells Brothers United Shows, was killed in November 1906, "in a freight wreck at Rome, N.Y., . . . while working as a freight brakeman on the New York Central" ("Robert Vandervoort"). Conn Baker (1871-1944) retired to become a landscape artist, living to the relatively ripe old age of 73. However, in 1902 the New York Times reported that one Diavolo performer fell in London on August 5 of that year.

As Cummings indicates, one or another Diavolo performer was likely also billed as "PORTHOS LEAPS THE GAP OVER FIVE ELEPHANTS." Research has uncovered a newspaper drawing of Porthos leaping the gap, but, alas, there are no elephants to be seen. Perhaps Diavolo/Porthos also performed as "Mlle D'Zizi." According to P. M. McClintock, "It wasn't discovered for years that 'Mlle. D'Zizi' was a man, though some customers noted 'her' big feet." (Scroll down to the "Boom and Bust" section of "The Cole Circus 'Curse'.") Advertisements depict "Mlle. D'Zizi " leaping over six (rather than five--or nine as claimed in EIMI) elephants. Perhaps Cummings conflated Porthos' bicycle leap with Mlle. D'Zizi's feat? 

"The Theatre: II" (145-148)
(145): Friedrich Kiesler (1890-1965), later Americanized to Frederick Kiesler, was an "Austrian-American architect, theoretician, theater designer, artist, and sculptor."
programme--Cummings quotes from Kiesler's article "Debacle of the Modern Theatre," which appeared in the Winter 1926 issue of The Little Review, which doubled as the program of the International Theatre Exposition, New York, 1926. For more on Kiesler and Cummings, see Allison Carruth's article "The Space Stage and the Circus."

"Coney Island" (149-153)
(151): The Little Review: the Winter 1926 issue of The Little Review with the program of the International Theatre Exposition, New York 1926.
Enrico Prampolini (1894-1956), Italian Futurist painter, director, set designer, choreographer, and architect.
THE ELECTRO-DYNAMIC POLY-DIMENSIONAL ARCHITECTURE: Cummings quotes from Rosamond Gilder's translation in The Little Review of Prampolini's "Futuristic Scenic Atmosphere" (105). Another translation of Prampolini's essay (by Victoria Nes Kirby) may be found in Michael Kirby's compilation Futurist Performance.

"The Agony of the Artist (with a capital A)" (189 -193)
Maria Popova discusses this essay in her blog post "The Agony of the Artist (with a capital A): E. E. Cummings on What It Really Means to Be an Artist and His Little-Known Line Drawings."

"A Foreword to Krazy" (323-328)
Krazy Kat was a comic strip cat beloved by Cummings, created by George Herriman (1880-1944). In "The Krazy Kat That Walks by Himself," an essay in his book The Seven Lively Arts (1924), Cummings' friend Gilbert Seldes wrote:

In one of his most metaphysical pictures Herriman presents Krazy as saying to Ignatz: "I ain't a Kat . . . and I ain't Krazy" (I put dots to indicate the lunatic shifting of background which goes on while these remarks are made; although the action is continuous and the characters motionless, it is in keeping with Herriman's method to have the backdrop in a continual state of agitation; you never  know when a shrub will become. a redwood, or a hut a church) . . . "it's wot's behind me that I am . . . it's the idea behind me, 'Ignatz' and that's wot I am." In an attitude of a contortionist Krazy points to the blank space behind him, and it is there that we must look for the "Idea." (234-235).

See also Taimi Olsen's article " 'Krazies...of indescribable beauty':  George Herriman’s 'Krazy Kat' and E. E. Cummings."

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