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The Enormous Room

E. E. Cummings

Description

In Great War–era France, E. E. Cummings is lifted, along with his friend B., from his job as an ambulance driver with the Red Cross, and deposited in a jail in La Ferté Macé as a suspected spy. There his life consists of strolls in the cour, la soupe, and his mattress in The Enormous Room, the male prisoners’ communal cell. It’s these prisoners whom Cummings describes in lurid detail.

The Enormous Room is far from a straightforward autobiographical diary. Cummings’ descriptions, peppered liberally with colloquial French, avoid time and, for the most part, place, and instead focus on the personal aspects of his internment, especially in the almost metaphysical description of the most otherworldly of his compatriots: The Delectable Mountains.

During his imprisonment, Cummings’ father petitioned the U.S. and French authorities for his liberty. This, and his eventual return home, are described in the book’s introduction.

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