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the enormous room by e e cummings

The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings


New York : Liveright Publishing, 1950. Hardcover. 271 pages ; 22 cm. $5.00 dust jacket with minimal wear. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.


Hailed by critics in TIME MAGAZINE as "the greatest innovator in modern poetry," E.E. Cummings turned to prose in THE ENORMOUS ROOM and created one of the few important novels which have survived since the end of World War One.

After leaving Harvard in 1915, Cummings volunteered to drive an ambulance in France. His friend Slater Brown attempted to phrase a letter to one "Charlie" which would pass the censors, and the masterful burlesque led to a double arrest on charges which were ridiculous.

Cummings was not an enemy; he was an American shoved into prison for those suspected of treason. THE ENORMOUS ROOM is a record of his impressions during the imprisonment: it is a bitter attack on injustices and degradations of war.

For E.E. Cummings the whole world was a cause of wonder. There is a great deal of the world in the book, but a great deal more of the man. His angry words pour out of the novel and strike us with his obstinate courage and integrity.

THE ENORMOUS ROOM is a realistic exposure of war's horrors: a cold realism which stabs like icicles. It reveals the indolence of the American officials, the stupidity and dishonesty and corruption of the French officials, the nauseating filth of prison-life. Yet Cummings never lost his sense of humor and the result is an affirmation of the aspirations of young men confronted by the reality of battle—a novel of spontaneous realism and extraordinary insight into the spirit of youth.


JOHN V. A. WEAVER: "The style is that of a literary master, brilliant yet informal, intellectual yet powerfully human. In the midst of these heartbreaking situations, flashes of genuine humor enliven every page. For Cummings' story is just as realistic in its exposure of war's horrors ... it is convincing, and, most important of all, it is full of the humor which the soldiers of all countries preserved, no matter what their plight.

"This is a startling book, a beautifully written book, and I even dare to say the most interesting book that the war has yet produced. I cannot, of course, answer for the veracity of Cummings' statements; but I can recommend it as a literary achievement of the highest order."

COL T. E. LAWRENCE: "You probably know Cummings' poetry—well, his verse practice has given atmosphere to his prose, and balance and rhythm to the construction of his book—while there is a surprising sense of character, and an almost terrifying actuality of imagination in his descriptions. I've remembered the book for years ... IT SEEMS TO ME SO MUCH THE BEST AMERICAN WAR-PERIOD BOOK."

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