|ee cummings- US poet and memoir-ist.|
The Enormous Room (1922)
by ee cummings
Liveright Press (1978 edition)
Is this a novel? A memoir? An autobiographical novel? Something like that. It's literature, to be sure. Basically, cummings, like many other to-be Artists, joined the French ambulance service early on in World War I. In 1917, he was arrested, and essentially held on suspicion of being "anti-French." He spent three months in jail, and he writes it up like he sees it, in a style that is kind of like early Beat prose, with interludes of untranslated French and various varieties of pidgin English. It is a confinement narrative at hear- you hear the routine, and then get character detail. The Enormous Room is light on actual incident, no escapes or vile torture to speak of, the worst that it gets is cummings being forced to spend time in solitary confinement, or at least his description.
You could call it Beat, you could call it Existentialist, or Kafka-esque or early Lost Generation, something like that.