Santa Claus: A Morality, 1974

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First published in the Harvard University Wake in 1946, the one-act play Santa Claus is among the most poignant and beloved works by American poet, essayist, and playwright E. E. Cummings (1894-1962). The allegorical Christmas fantasy recounts the tale of Santa Claus and the sinister character Death, who exchange identities in a cynical scheme to sell shares in a worthless wheel mine. A little girl, whose innocence allows her to see through their deception, finds them out. Remorseful, Santa reveals his true identity, reaffirming his faith in love and giving, and reconciles with his estranged family. The play was inspired by Cummings's daughter Nancy, with whom he was reunited in 1946 after a bitter divorce. Alexander Calder illustrates this monumental artist's book with nine full-page etchings, whose simplified linear motifs deftly convey the emotional power of the story.

Santa Claus: A Morality
Artist Life
Accession Number
(Black Sun Books, New York); sold to MIA, 1986.
Catalogue Raisonne
Hogblen and Watson 154; V & A 154
Curator Approved

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