Thursday, November 30, 2023

the last book I ever read (The Beauty of Living: e. e. cummings in the Great War, excerpt four)

from The Beauty of Living: e. e. cummings in the Great War by J. Alison Rosenblitt:

Also on the board of the Monthly was John Dos Passos, the future novelist, later famous for his U.S.A. trilogy. Dos (as they called him) was to become one of Cummings’s most intimate and trusted friends: the kind of friend who could always cheer him up and the kind of friend of such long standing that he could sign notes to Cummings in late life, “me.” The older Dos was friendly, genial, bighearted, and happily married with somewhat rambunctious children. Even when Cummings was middle-aged, curmudgeonly, and grumpy at being forced to receive unwanted guests, he had to admit, however grudgingly, that seeing Dos did him good.

Dos was of Portuguese descent (from the island of Madeira) along his father’s father’s line, and he stood out from the mostly Anglo-Saxon Protestant world of Harvard. His face was intellectual, with dark hair, dark eyebrows, and dark eyes under circular, wire-rimmed spectacles. His features presented a jumbled geometry. His eyebrows each descried a perfect parabola, the eyes exactly double-pointed ovals beneath the circular glasses, the philtrum under his nose a deep, ridged triangle, and the lines of his cheeks so pronounced that they drew a line exactly continuing the slope of the side of his nose down to the corners of his mouth. The complete effect would have been that of an early twentieth-century nerd, were the eyes not so mild and sensitive.

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