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The Enormous Room by E. E. Cummings

The Enormous Room (1922)

by e. e. cummings

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1,1332011,574 (3.76)81
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)



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English (19)  Dutch (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I liked this book a lot. What made it so special, I'm not sure. After all, the most part of it has a setting that is limited to a few rooms, in which a few main characters live in captivity during the last year of WWI.
It must have been the different voices of all that men, the well pronounced French, the every day struggles and troubles that are told.
One of the better 1001-books, at least to me. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Feb 22, 2020 |
Amazing and enjoyable glimpse into the rich internal world of e.e. cummings. ( )
  brakketh | Dec 1, 2018 |
Written when Cummings was very young, this records his experience of internment in France towards the end of WW1. It is very conciously stylised, both in the writing (perhaps not too surprising given he went on to make his name as a poet) and in his approach to his subject matter. His constant elegantly constructed jibes at the stupidity and brutish pettiness of the system and those running it complement an expressed positive delight in his circumstances in spite of their unpleasantness. This in turn underpins his appreciation of those he finds himself imprisoned with. His vignettes of these characters form the core of the book and he achieves what might be thought impossible: to express what seems to be a genuine admiration and respect of his fellow prisoners without hiding the many challenging aspects of their character and behaviour. The skill with which he pulls together all these varying elements is what makes this book. The challenge is to follow all the different characters under their various - and varying - apellations through Cummings' intricately constructed sentances. Quite hard work but ultimately rewarding for its positive affirmation of humanity and the skill of the writing. 3 October 2018. ( )
  alanca | Oct 3, 2018 |
I completed this work by the young e.e.cummings written at 18 about his time as a prisoner or detainee of the French Government for suspicion during WWI. The author my be better known for his poetry but this is a work of nonfiction/memoir and the prose is delightful. He paints a picture with his words. I read this as an audio and am now going through it to study it a bit. Not sure yet how I would rate it. But it is probably a great piece of literature.

Cummings and his friend B are really pacifist but go to Paris and volunteer as ambulance drivers. Because B writes letters home that are negative toward the French, they are detained in a war detention camp for several months. This book is about that experience. Cummings wrote it to satisfy his father who wanted to sue the French government for the imprisonment of his son. Cummings wrote it upon his father's word that he would not sue. The story follows the structure of The Pilgrim's Progress. It draws pictures of the characters through the written word. It is a journey for cummings in his early years. He wrote this when he was 18. ( )
  Kristelh | Aug 22, 2018 |
Challenging read due to Cummings' poetic prose and his interspersing of French dialogue. It is also not a very straightforward read, as he jumps from story to story and introduces characters in whatever order seemed to appeal to him. In the end, I did find it rather rewarding - both for the style and semi-fictional account of the time period. ( )
  thomnottom | Apr 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
cummings, e. e.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Graves, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harmer, JohnCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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