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The Enormous Room (The Cummings Typescript Editions) Paperback – January 17, 1994
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Top Customer Reviews
The Enormous Room is the story of Cumming's three month incarceration at La Ferte Mace, a squalid French prison camp. Cummings is locked up as accessory to exercise of free speech, his friend B. (William Brown) having written a letter with some pro German sentiments. What Cummings experienced in those three months and the stories of the men and women he met are, despite the straits of the polyglot texture of the book, never other than fascinating. At moments touching (the stories of the Surplice and The Wanderer's family), hilarious (the description of the Man In the Orange Cap is hysterical), and maddening (the smoking of the four les putains), this is a brilliant weft of memorable characters and not a little invective for the slipshod French goverment.
Something I noticed. Though the book claims as its primary influence Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, I noticed a similarity with Thoreau's Walden. In both books, there is the idea of self-abnegation breeding liberty and peace of mind. The idea is to shear away all luxuries, all privileges. But Thoreau had one very important luxury to his credit: Free will. Whereas Thoreau chose his isolated and straitened existence near Walden Pond, Cummings' was involuntary. So, if the touchstone of freedom both men share is valid, is not Cummings, by virtue of the unrequested nature of his imprisonment, the freer of the two men?
This is a fascinating, thought provoking, ribald and intelligent book. I only regret that the Fighting Sheeney was never given commupance...
Despite what may have been said by previous critics, this is not a book about or against war. It's not a guilty diatribe of anguish and violence. Although it takes place in a french concentration camp during WW1 where atrocities are committed daily, Cummings doesn't waste words complaining. The focus and subject of this tale is the things he learned, the people he knew, the beauty he finds recollecting his experience in that place.
I read _The Enormous Room_ in one sitting, and when I'd finished it I read it again. Slowly. It's gorgeous, it's funny, it's intelligent, and it's so damned big-hearted that it makes me feel like a gnat. A very happy gnat. And that's about the highest compliment I think I've ever paid a book.
'Nuff said. Read it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've read many books on World War I, and I always expect sadness. It was a horrible time, and I'm almost embarrassed to love this story because it's so very funny. E.E. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Theresa A. Loeffler
Cummings served as an ambulance driver during the war. In late August 1917 his friend and colleague, William Slater Brown (known in the book only as B. Read morePublished 2 months ago by John Hutchinson
Dated and boring. Love his poems, but this book was not for me.Published 12 months ago by literophile
Bias here. I love e.e. cummings so anything he does is wonderfulPublished 13 months ago by Jill Joiner
An interesting book. It's an arrogant man/boy's assessment of jail. In his own artistic way he describes his time in the "enormous room" with candor, humor, and angst. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Phoenix
This is a wonderfully imaginative, story. It's really magic. An incarceration in a filthy prison becomes the story of life. It was a delight to read this prose from a poet. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Patricia