In print continuously since 1922, The Enormous Room is one of the classic American literary works to emerge from World War I, in a grouping that includes John Dos Passo's Three Soldiers and Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. Drawing on his experiences in France as a volunteer ambulance driver, Cummings takes us through a series of mistakes that led to his being arrested for treason and sent to prison. Out of this episode Cummings produced a unique work—a story of oppression, injustice, and imprisonment presented in a high-spirited manner as if it were a lark, a work of new linguistic energy that celebrates the individual and opposes all structures that stifle him. This edition restores to the work much material that was deleted from the manuscript for the book's 1922 publication and is illustrated with drawings Cummings made while imprisoned in France.… (more)
We had succeeded, my friend B. and I, in dispensing with almost three of our six months' engagement as Conducteurs Volontaires, Section Sanitaire Vingt-et-Un, Ambulance Norton Harjes, Croix Rouge Americaine, and at the Moment which subsequent experience served to capitalise had just finished the unlovely job of cleaning and greasing (mettoyer is the proper word) the own private flivver of the chef de section, a gentleman by the convenient name of Mr A.
The tall, impossibly tall, incomparably tall, city shoulderingly upwards into hard sunlight leaned a little through the octaves of its parallel edges, leaningly strode upwards into firm, hard, snowy sunlight; the noises of America nearingly throbbed with smokes and hurrying dots which are men and which are women and which are things new and curious and hard and strange and vibrant and immense, lifting with a great ondulous stride firmly into immortal sunlight . . .