Friday, July 11, 2003

I've been working on an article on Jose Garcia Villa that will hopefully be forthcoming in MELUS. I sent a final draft off to the issue editor, who came back with a question: At several points in the essay I refer to the work of E.E. Cummings. Shouldn't it be "e.e. cummings"?

Good question. I thought I'd seen various answers to this question and had gotten it in my head that it should be "EEC" rather than "eec," but had no idea why. So I did some research and was able to come up with this response, which I reproduce for your amusement:

It does seem as if there is a difference of opinion. However, in a 1992 article in Spring, the journal of the E.E. Cummings Society, Norman Friedman writes: "it must be said once and for all that his name should be written and printed with the usual capital letters in their usual places: "E. E. Cummings.''

Friedman cites as evidence that Cummings usually signed his name "E E Cummings" in personal correspondence and also, in a follow-up article, quotes a letter from Cummings on the capitalization of his name: ""E.E.Cummings, unless your printer prefers E. E. Cummings/ titlepage up to you;but may it not be tricksy svp[.]"

The Modern American Poetry site at the U of Illinois also uses "E.E. Cummings" throughout:

I guess that seems authoritative enough for me, so I'm sticking with "E.E. Cummings."

There does seem to be a competing claim that Cummings legally registered "e e cummings" as his authorial name. However, Friedman dismisses this as apocryphal.


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