Hard Cover. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922. First Edition. Very Good.
First edition, first state with “shit” present on p. 219. Association copy, signed and inscribed by Cummings to editor Malcolm Cowley on front free endpaper: “To Malcolm Cowley / (qui?) / E. E. Cummings.” Publisher's mustard yellow cloth, lettered in black. Very good book with light toning to spine and pages, light rubbing to spine and tail edge of boards and text block, previous owner’s bookplate (book collector H. Bradley Martin) to front pastedown. Overall, an attractive copy with an excellent association. The Enormous Room is an autobiographical novel that details E.E. Cummings' time in a French prison during World War I. Serving as an ambulance driver, Cummings and his friend William Slater Brown, named "B" in the book, expressed anti-war sentiments while they were enlisted. Cummings himself proclaimed to have had no ill will towards the Germans they were fighting against. The pair also preferred the company of the French to their American peers; this behavior garnered negative attention and landed the two in prison under suspicion of espionage. The book describes their time imprisoned in an "enormous room" with thirty other people. The title refers to both the physical space Cummings was held captive in and the place in his mind where his memories of the event live. This copy is inscribed by E. E. Cummings to Malcolm Cowley, an important editor and literary critic; both men are strongly associated with the group of World War I-influenced American writers known as the Lost Generation. Cowley attended Harvard with Cummings in the 1910s, and they continued their relationship in Paris during the 1920s, frequenting the same expatriate literary circles. Cowley’s documentation of the Lost Generation, Exile’s Return: A Narrative of Ideas, has been called “an irreplaceable literary record of the most dramatic period in American literary history.” In his lengthy career, Cowley also helped resuscitate the popularity of William Faulkner with The Portable Faulkner, and he championed Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, and John Cheever early in their careers.