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Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681376196
Pages: 288
Publication Date: July 26, 2022

The Enormous Room

by E.E. Cummings, introduction by Nicholas Delbanco

Paperback
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The August selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club

In 1917, after the entry of America into World War I, E. E. Cummings, a recent graduate of Harvard College, volunteered to serve on an ambulance corps in France. He arrived in Paris with a new friend, William Slater Brown, and they set about living it up in the big city before heading off to their assignment. Once in the field, they wrote irreverent letters about their experiences, which attracted the attention of the censors and ultimately led to their arrest. They were held for months in a military detention camp, sharing a single large room with a host of fellow detainees. It is this experience that Cummings relates in lightly fictionalized form in The Enormous Room, a book in which a tale of woe becomes an occasion of exuberant mischief. A free-spirited novel that displays the same formal swagger as his poems, a stinging denunciation of the stupidity of military authority, and a precursor to later books like Catch-22 and MASH, Cummings’s novel is an audacious, uninhibited, lyrical, and lasting contribution to American literature.

Praise

The Enormous Room is a good book, an unusual book, an exciting book.
—Robert Graves

I went through The Enormous Room again . . . and from it knew, more keenly than from my own senses, the tang of herded men, and their smell. The reading is as sharp as being in prison, for all but that crazed drumming against the door which comes of solitary confinement.
—T. E. Lawrence

The Enormous Room lives on, because those few who cause books to live have not been able to endure the thought of its mortality.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald