The Enormous Room
A high-energy romp, the poet's prose memoir recounts his military service in World War I, when a comedy of errors led to his unjust arrest and imprisonment for treason. This edition restores a significant amount of material deleted from the book's initial publication in 1922.
Edward Estlin Cummings (1894-1962) was an American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright. He wrote poetry daily from the age of 8 to 22. During World War I, when he was 23, he volunteered as ambulance driver in France. He went there with a frien ...more
I absolutely adore e.e.cummings poetry. But this memoir of his months in a French prison during WWI just does absolutely nothing for me. I was pushing myself to keep going, and kept pushing, but after getting about 60% of the way through, I give up.
I can see why this would work for other people, but it just didn't work for me. It comes off as a series of barely organized anecdotes, with a thin thread of only semi-chronological narrative winding through. Sure, ...more
I actually haven't read anything by cummings before so I had no idea what to expect in terms of style or content. In fact, I knew very little to nothing about cummings beyond his name and reputation. I didn't even know his gender bef ...more
Cummings became famous for his poetry, but before that he wrote a now obscure novel-cum-memoir about his temporary imprisonment during World War I, The Enormous Room. Modeled loosely after Bunyan's magnum opus, Pilgrim's Progress, Cummings gives us the arrest and detention (for he is never sent to prison, only detained awaiting the word of the Commission on whether he is to be imprisoned or freed) of a friend of his and himself. The friend is ch ...more
THE ENORMOUS ROOM is an eclectic jumble of many things. On the one hand, it is a war story. It takes place over the three months of autum ...more
Though he's devastatingly clever and does his fair share of attacking the madness and incompetence of the French government and the modern world in general, what's really striking about this book is the voice of the speaker. He's full of amusement and wonder, despite the awful things going on around him, and choosing to focus on the memorable characters ...more
volunteered in WWI with the ambulance service in France. He was patriotic but a pacifist not willing to kill. Once in France, he had a month's stay in Paris where he learned to speak French and love the French way. When he and his friend joined their unit, they spent a lot of time with the French which infuriated his supervisor who said they were there ...more
As it's memoirs, there isn't any plot, and the story is loosely structured around major events and important (to Cummings) people, rather than a strict timeline. Cummings admits as much within the text. ...more
He would be an artist.
But if he were an artist there would he deeper wounds
Which he could not describe."
--from "Silence" by Edgar Lee Masters
I discovered that poem when I was younger, and those lines at the end of a stanza about a former solider who's unable to talk about what WWI was like for him have stuck with me. Every time I opened this book, I couldn't help them running through my head.
e.e. cummings is one of my favorite poets, but until earlier this year ...more
The boo ...more
Cummings was himself placed in a French prison during WWI, along with a friend, and takes great care to describe fellow captives, his captors and a unique perspective on the never (or far less) advertised repercussions of war. He both embraces and criticizes his predicament, while d ...more
The Enormous Room begins with Cummings announ ...more
He received his BA in 1915 and his MA in 1916, both from Harvard University. His studies there introduced him to the poetry of avant-garde writers, such as Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound.
In 1917, Cummings published a ...more