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E.E. Cummings : the creative artist in "The Enormous Room" 1970

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E. E. CUMMINGS: THE ORBATIYE ARTIST, IN "THE ENORMOUS ROOM" by PATRICIA MARY.. MURRAY: B.A., University of British Columbia, 1968 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF. THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of English "We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1970 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r a n a d v a n c e d d e g r e e a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e a n d s t u d y . I f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by t h e H e a d o f my D e p a r t m e n t o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l n o t be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . D e p a r t m e n t of StvfflMi. T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a V a n c o u v e r 8, C a n a d a D a t e ABSTRACT' The Enormous Room is an autobiographical novel organ- ized around the journey in The Pilgrim*s Progress. The links between the two works, however, do not end with the organization: both the novel and the allegory are based on prison experiences; both contain autobiographical and didactic elements. Furthermore, both novelist and allegor- i s t use the journey as an image for the l i f e , of the s p i r i t . Neither the path of Christian's journey nor that of Oum- mings1 is the way of the world. While Oummings does carry more than one of his themes by accommodating The Pilgrim"s Progress, he ironically in- verts Bunyan''s ideas for the same purpose. The Puritan cleanliness ethic, for example, is inverted, placing clean- liness next to ungodliness in The Enormous Roonu Whereas this inversion has given rise to great dis- pute, the individual character studies in the hovel remain indisputably one of i t s greatest achievements. To a certain extent characterization in The Enormous Room depends upon animal imagery in The Pilgrim"s Progress; but where Bun- yan's imagery is concentrated, Oummings* is diffused; where Bunyan's animals evoke fear and horror, C^^I__ings, are humor- ous or merely picturesque. i f I t i s i n the area of setting that Oummings and Bunyan are perhaps farthest apart. Bunyan's pilgrimage begins i n the City of Destruction and extends across the earth, t e r - minating i n the C e l e s t i a l C i t y . Oummings' journey, on the other hand, i s s t r i c t l y circumscribed geographically, but within the geographical l i m i t s he creates a changing, set- ti n g through precise descriptions of the prisoners at La Ferte. The comparison and contrast between the two works con- cludes with an examination of the excremental v i s i o n i n the novel. Norman 0. Brown's l i n k between excrement and death i n L i f e Against Death: A Psychoanalytical Meaning of History i s reapplied to i l l u s t r a t e the f i n a l connection between Bunyan"s allegory and Oummings1 novel. The topic of characterization examined i n the f i r s t chapter appears f o r re-examination i n Chapter I I . There characterization i s related to the humour i n the novel and the role of games; both are then linked to the roles assumed by three of the main characters: Count Bragard, Jean l e Negre, and Surplice. In the t h i r d chapter the humorous situations of the novel, examined i n Chapter I I , are shown to be bal- anced by tense episodes. Just as the dramatic situations i n the novel are balanced so too are the emotions of the narrator, f l u c t u a t i n g between anguish at the inhumane i i i treatment in the prison and delight i n the Delectable Mountains and the sight of New York upon his return to America. The sense of unity and mystery associated with the sight of New York is expanded in Chapter V;, "The Fusion . of Subject and Object i n The Enormous Room." There the "mysterious" relationship between the individual perceiver and the external world i s examined and an attempt is made to answer two fundamental questions deriving from this re- lationship: how can an external and material object be transmuted into the interior and immaterial self and how can this transmutation be expressed in words. Finally in Chapter V the partial visions of the f i r s t four chapters are related to the whole novel: the artist's vision is studied i n terms of form and content, character and situation. We return to a genre study, claiming the term "novel" for Cummings, work and themat- i c a l l y linking i t with the contemporary war nonrels. In form another claim i s made for this novel - the claim to be like poetry, painting, and photography. For each of the five chapters an introductory remark or series of them have been selected to present in a mean- ingful way the issues expressed in the particular chapters The aim of presenting these remarks is twofold: to show . precedents and antecedents for the ideas and their expres- sion and to link the concerns of the novelist with those of other creative a r t i s t s . Such a presentation is i n keeping with a central concept i n Oummings1 a r t i s t i c vision, that of unity. TABLE OF'CONTENTS Chapter INTRODUCTION Background Material ( 1 ) ; Approach ( 5 ) 1. "THE ENORMOUS ROOM" AND "THE PILGRIM'S PRO- GRESS" I. C r i t i c a l Remarks Linking the Two Works « Oummings" Use of Source Material in the : Novel ( 1 0 ) ; In the Poetry ((11)}; Evaluation of David E. Smith's Crit- i c a l Remarks ( 1 2 ) I I . A Cbmparisoh and Contrast:: General Remarks and Methods of Characteriz- ation ••••••.••<»• General Statements ( 1 5 ) ; Oummings' Inversion of Values ( 1 6 ) ; Use of Animal Imagery (17); The Search for Identity ( 2 3 ) ; . Minor Charact- ers ( 2 5 ) III. A Comparison and Contrast: The Set- ting and the Concept of the Journey •• General Remarks ( 2 7 ) ; The Changing Landscape.of "The Enormous Room" (28); The Divided Universe; ( 3 0 ) ; Oummings' Use of Source in the Setting ( 3 2 ) ; Journeys' End ( 3 4 ) ; Compared with "Narcissus and Gold- mund" ( 3 5 ) ; "Sons and Lovers" ( 3 5 ) ; "The: Rainbow" ( 3 6 ) V I r Chapter Page IV. The Excremental Vision in "The Enor- mous Room" : A Review of Criticism and Concluding Statements .... 38 Criticism of the Excremental Vision (38); Zola's Defense (39); David E». Smith's Psychoanalytical Study (4l); Related to Bunyan and Cum- mings (43); Concluding State- ments (45) 2.. CHARACTERIZATION1 IF "THE ENORMOUS ROOM" I* Characterization and Comedy in the Novel: The Source of the Comedy and Revelation of Character Through Hands and Eyes ••••• 46 The Narrator's Position in the Comedy (46); Comic Scenes (47); Comic Roles (51); Cummings' Use of Hands Compared with Rilke's (52); Cum- mings and Lachaisei (54) II, Game Playing and Its Function i n "The Enormous Room": Count Bragard, Jean, Surplice and Their Roles <•••• 56 The A r t i f i c i a l i t y of Bragard (56); Jean"s Games (59); Compared with "Homo Ludens" (59); Ambiguity of Games (61); Surplice the Scape- goat (62) 3., THE ACHIEVEMENT OP BALANCE IN "THE ENORMOUS ROOM" I. The Dramatic Balance in the Novel 64 The "Revolver Scene" (64); The Inter- views (65); The Prison at Gre (67); The Enormous Room (69); Camera Tech- nique in the Room (70); Compared with James Reaney"s "Colours i n the Dark (71); The Pinal Vision (72) itf i i ' Chapter Page 11 in The Emotional Balance in the Narrators • Anguish and Delight . •• 74 World of Emotions (74); Anguish (75); Hayakawa and Harvey on the Tough Guy (75); Delight (76); The Parisienne World (78); New York (79) 4. THE FUSION OF SUBJECT AND OBJECT IN "THE ENORMOUS ROOM" .81. Transmutations (82); June E. Downey's Remarks (84): "The Secrets of the-Zoo Exposed" (86); Personification, Sim- i l e , Metaphor (87); Synaesthesia (88); Links with Rilke's "Primal Sound" (89); Ctammings' Language (90) 5» THE UNIFIED VISION IN "THE ENORMOUS ROOM" I* The Artist's Vision in Terms of Form and Content 93 The Mystery of Art (93); Interrel- ation of Details (96); "The Enormous Room" as a Novel (97) II., The Artist"s Unified Vision i n Terms of Character and Situation 100 Mystery of the Characters (101); Inter- relation of Characters (102); Of Sit- uations (103); Concluding Remarks (104) CONCLUSION .. 106 SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY^ 11 1 "Art - defined by an unknown playwright of the 20th century as "a question of being a l i v e " ( n o t "a matter of being born ) - i s the one question which only matters." 1 E.E. Cummings, "A Eairy Tale," A Miscellany Revised ed. George J . Firmage (New York: October House Inc.* 1967),, p. 250o. I INTRODUCTION: Background Material and Approach "A r e a l novel," according to the c r i t i c Albert Thibaudet, " i s l i k e an autobiography of what might have been p o s s i b l e , " 2 A r e a l novel, E,E, Cummings could well reply, i s the i l l u m i n a t i o n , through a nar- r a t i v e , of the v i s i o n of l i f e whose formation i s the writer's autobiography, E,E, Cummings1 The Enormous Room i s such a novel, Written at the request of his father, Dr.- Edward Cummings, the novel recounts the experiences of the writer and his f r i e n d , William Slater Brown, during the f i n a l four months of 1917* Shortly a f t e r being assigned' to Section Sanitairer Vingt-et-Uh, Ambulance Nbrton-Harjes,. Croix Rouge? Americaine, the two men were arrested and removed to Camp de Triage de l a Eerte Mace, because; Brown had written supposedly subversive l e t t e r s to friends i n America, This action gave r i s e to voluminous cor- respondence between the writer's father and, among others,, Richard Norton, head of the; Norton-Harjes Albert Thibaudet, Reflexions sur l e Roman, I (Paris: Gallimard, 1938), p, 12* 2 Ambulance: corps, an unnamed major on the s t a f f of the; Judge Advocate; General, A..E,F», i n Paris, and President Woodrow Wilson, This correspondence secured Gummings, release from La Ferte andi he returned to Hew York on board the Espagne i n December,. Two months l a t e r Brown was released from the prison at Precigne and joined Cummings i n America,. The o f f i c i a l and personal, correspondences as- sembled i n Charles Norman's biography of Cummings,^ some of which are: included i n the Ebreward' to The Enormous Room, present an outsider's view of the im- prisonment, E.E, Cummings;with Brown''s assistance ? provides us with the:view from within the; Enormous Room i n the form of the novel i t s e l f . In a l e t t e r dated October 6, 1920 and addressed to Stewart M i t c h e l l , the: managing editor of The D i a l . Cummings describes the procedure involved i n writing The Enormous Room:: Here I've been working (as work- ed the sons of Egypt to b u i l d the: pyramids., you understand - i n other words l i k e E.) upon a l i t t l e h i s t o r - i c a l t r e a t i s e of vast import to my Family and Nobody i n General - com- p r i s i n g my experiences i n France* or more accurately en prison. Hon- es t l y to say, I haven l !t done naw- thing else. Strenuous i s no name reefed . » •^Charles Norman, E.E,, Cummings: A Biography piew y York:; E,P, Dutton & Company, Inc., 1967), PP.62-89, therefor - 3 pages a day, since; . my family l e f t , on an average 2 hours to the page* ID EST, a six hour day, splendid for the good of humanity, and i f so, and so forth,: 4 Two interesting points are: made i n this letter. The f i r s t i s that Oummings seems not to expect a spectac- ular reception for his f i r s t novel, and according to the late; c r i t i c and scholar Ben Ray Redman,, the book was a "Pot-Boiler with Ideas" and a commercial f a i l - ure*5 But more significant i s Oummings' emphasis on the-agony of the a r t i s t , a theme which he i s to de- velop five years later in an article for Vanity Fair, In a letter which he wrote to Malcolm Cowley dated April 30, 1951,, Oummings comments i n retrospect on the writing of The Enormous Room: TheER; wrote i t s e l f as a(n however microscopic gesture of thankfulness toward my father; who, despite^every effort of Norton Harjes &. l^armee francaise, boosted not only me but Bout of h e l l , BJ _ I were together at the writing, which sans his mem- ory of events would have proved im- possible* And he can probably t e l l you when this happened ... perhaps, & here's hoping, I [as an artist] Just Growed < ^Quoted i n Charles Norman, p, 92*. ;; V 5NYTBR. June 15, 1958, p, .4. ^Cf, "Most people merely accept this agony of the Artist, as they accept evolution," i n "The Agony of the Artist (with a capital A)," A Miscellany Revised,, pp. 189-193* Prom this comment, couched i n an organic metaphor, we learn l i t t l e about Cummings as a creative a r t i s t or about the creative process i n the novel* It could be argued that the writer i s here being modest or perhaps just secretive. And yet, even i f we granted that Cum- mings is the most illuminating commentator on his own art, his desire for secret!veness or aversion to anal- ysis Inevitably blur his comments on creative art. This particular view is supported i n the Introduction to The Enormous Room, whose organizing principle i s a dialogue between Cummings as a r t i s t and a c r i t i c - i n - terviewer; When this book wrote i t s e l f , I was observing a negligible portion of something incredibly more distant than any sun; something more unim- aginably huge than the most pro- digious of a l l universes - Namely? Q The individual.. ° The organic metaphor recurs, revealing no more than i t did in the Cowley letter. It i s not that Cummings f a i l s to grasp the difference between criticism and apprecia- tion; rather i t i s that he chooses to disregard the •Norman, pp. 96-7• 8E»E. Cummings, Introduction to The Enormous Room (New York: Random House, Inc.,, 1934)* p. viii© A l l future references to this novel w i l l be taken from the above edition; page numbers w i l l appear with the cited passages. one and overemphasize the other. Perhaps, as he sta- ted i n the letter to Cowley, the "gesture of thankful- ness" played a significant role?, yet we are urged beyond the writer's statements to an examination of the ar t i s - t i c process and f i n a l l y to a judgment of the creative a r t i s t . In short, we w i l l be examining Oummings' con- tro l and manipulation of language as a medium and anal- yzing his other organizational principles in order to explain how he f u l f i l s the d i f f i c u l t task of fusing con- tent with form to produce and sustain a r t i s t i c v i t a l i t y in The Enormous Room. This analysis should also allow for an assessment of the novel i n relation to Oummings,; later works The method employed in Chapter I of the thesis is that of comparison and contrast: the chapter begins with an evaluation of the c r i t i c a l comments linking The Enormous Room with The Pilgrim's Progress. It then pro- ceeds to a discussion and explanation of their similar- i t i e s i n terms of characterization and setting.. It also examines the excremental vision of the novel i n some de- t a i l , presenting that vision from the perspective of Norman 0.. Brown's psychoanalytical study, Life Against Death. Chapter II returns to the matter of character- ization, this time examining i t i n relation to both the ^This topic has been pursued i n depth from the point of view of "theme and symbol, only secondarily of style by James P. Dougherty, DA, XXIII (1962), p. 1.363. humour i n the novel and the role of games as exempli- fied in the work of anthropologist, Johan Huizinga* 1 0 Chapter III, dealing with the concept of balance, builds on the previous two chapters, expands their subject matter, and anticipates the f i n a l two chapters. Chapter IV; treats in detail the fusion of subject and object; here Cta-mings' later works, particularly the poetry, are used to demonstrate this principle. The f i n a l chapter i s an examination of Cummings *' vision i n the novel; the t i t l e "The Unified Vision in The Enor- mous Room" has been chosen to emphasize the culmina- tion of the thesis, linking form and content as well as character and situation* The specific development of each chapter depends, of course, upon i t s subject and the kind of presentation best suited to i t . For each of the five chapters an in - troductory remark or series of them have been selected to present i n a meaningful way the issues expressed i n the particular chapters. The aim of presenting these remarks is twofold: to show precedents and antecedents for the ideas and their expression and to link the con- cerns of the novelist with those of other creative art- i s t s . Such a presentation i s in keeping with a central concept i n Cummings1 a r t i s t i c vision, that of: unity. 1 S p e c i f i c a l l y Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play- Element i n Culture. Boston: Beacon Press, 196*6. 7 The claim for a unified vision in The Enormous Room is made with an awareness of the observations of some early c r i t i c s , who stated that "the form of the novel [was] not brought to completion" 1 1 and that the book's "exquisite finesse i n portraiture" 1 2 stands in marked contrast with i t s "brutal inchoate raving [spiralling^into a maze of meaningless sounds," 15 These c r i t i c s ' observations would be indisputably cor- rect i f we accepted The Enormous Room as a war novel in the tradition of John Dos Passos1 Three Soldiers or Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, If, on the other hand, we insist on considering Oummings' novel as a new form - an experiment, and a significant one i n the writ- er's development as an a r t i s t , then we cannot overlook the c r i t e r i a for such lite r a r y criticism, Henry James' reminder in The Art of Fiction seems most appropriate i n this connection: Art lives upon discussion, upon ex- periment, upon curiosity, upon var- iety of attempt, upon the exchange 1 1 John Peale Bishop, "Incorrect English^" Vanity Fair. July 1922, p, 20, 1 2Quoted i n David E. Smith, "The Enormous Room and The Pilgrim's Progress^" TOL. II TJuly 1965), 67. 1 5 I b i d . 8 of views and the comparison of standpoints; and there i s a presumption that those times when no one has anything par- ticular to say about i t , and has no reason to give for prac- tice or preference, though they may be times of honour, are not times of development - are times, possibly even, a l i t t l e of dulness. 1^ Henry James1 statement is well worth keeping i n mind for the f i n a l section of this thesis when we consider E.E. Cummings as a novelist, particularly as author of one of the three most noted American novels based on ¥orld War One. '̂ "Henry James, "The Art of Fiction," The Major Crit i c s . Holmes, Fussell, Frazer eds. t^ew York: A l - fred A. Knopf, 1965), p. 2 6 7 o 1 "THE ENORMOUS ROOM" AND "THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS" I* C r i t i c a l Remarks Linking the Two Works: An Eval- uation of That C r i t i c i s m "When at the f i r s t I took my pen i n hand Thus f o r to write, I.did not understand That I at a l l should make a l i t t l e book In such a mode ..." 15 "Here I have seen things rare and p r o f i t a b l e ; Things pleasant, dreadful, things to make me stable In what I have begun to take i n hand; Then l e t me- think on them, and understand Wherefore they showed me was, and l e t meTje Thankful, 0 good Interpreter, to thee," '6 "Never has any great work been accomplish- ed by human creatures, i n which i n s t i n c t was not the p r i n c i p a l mental agent, or i n which the methods of design could be defined by rule, or apprehended by reason. I t i s therefore that agency through mechanism destroys the powers of a r t , and sentiments of r e l i g i o n , together." 17 1 5 J o h n Bunyan, "The Author's Apology For His Book," The Pilgrim's Progress. Introduction Louis L. Martz (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962), p. 2. l 6 I b i d . , p. 38. 17 Reflections from Ruskln. s e l . & arrang. R. Dimsdale Stocker (London:. Gay &, Hancock, Ltd., 1908), p e 18. 10 Of the interpretations of The Enormous Room i n recent years David E. Smith 1 ^ and Kingsley Widmer 1 9 (iand i n former years John Peale Bishop 2 0 ) have iden- t i f i e d The Pilgrim's Progress as a source and key to an understanding of Cummings' novel. The seventeenth- century allegory i s the point of departure f o r Crummings, and when properly collated with The Enormous Room can lead to some valuable insights into the method of char- a c t e r i z a t i o n and the nature of the journey i n that no- v e l . By way of introducing t h i s p a r t i c u l a r source study we might mention that Cummings' biographer, Charles Nor- man, and Sheridan Baker 2 1 have both commented on the value of Cummings,! use of source material as a way to understanding the early poetry. Norman remarks,, f o r example, that a reading of Keats' l e t t e r to Benjamin op Bailey dated July 18, 1818,, concerning the Proserpine myth as i t appears i n Paradise Lost, s t r i k e s to the heart of what Cummings i s stating i n "Chansons Innocentes l o C f . TCL. II (1962), 67-75. l 9"Tlmeless Prose," TCL. IT (1958), 3-8, 2 0 V a n l t y Pair., (July 1922), 20, 21 Sheridan Baker, "Cummings and Catullus." MLN, 74 (March 1959), 231-4. V 22 „ Quoted i n Norman, p. 38, I l l " of the Tulips and .Chimneys collection. The pas- sage from Paradise Lost.reads as follows: Not that f a i r f i e l d Of Enna, where Proserpine gathering flowers, Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis Was gathered which cost Ceres a l l that pain To seek her through the world ... 23 Milton's account of the myth bears a marked resem- blance to Oummings''"Chanson Innocente" as the f o l - lowing lines reveal: Tumbling-hair picker of buttercups violets dandelions And the big bullying daisies through the f i e l d won- derful With eyes a l i t t l e sorry Another comes also picking flowers 4 Because Norman has undertaken to write a comprehensive biography he frequently cannot elaborate upon his state- ments, this comparison being one such example. It would seem though, that the differences between the two accounts are quite as marked as the similarities. Left unexplained are the arrangement of lines, the choice of the particular flowers and the: use, of "bul- lying" to qualify "daisies." Perhaps Norman may be ex- cused on the basis that his intention as stated in the 2 3Paradlse Lost. Book IV, 11, 268-72 i n Merritt Y; Hughes, ed, John Milton:: Complete Poems and Major Prose (New York: The Odyssey Press, 1957), p. 284. Preface to E..E, Gummings: A Biography was not to write a c r i t i c a l biography,: In contrast, David E. Smith, who does for The Enormous Room what Norman and Baker do for the poetry,, takes care to point out both the similarities and the differences between the novel and i t s source, The P i l - grim's Progress, Professor Smith i s generally correct i n claiming that E..E* Cummings probably used Bun- yan' s Pilgrim's Progress as an organizing principle of The Enor- mous Room because he suspected that for most people i n his generation i t s spiritual power and moral les- sons were either forgotten or mis- understood, 2 5 But we must go even further than this statement i f we wish to understand (Jummlngs'' intention i n the novel. Looking ahead for a moment to Anthropos t or the Future of Art, a parable published eight years after The Enor- mous Room, we find Cummings attacking didacticism in art. And yet we cannot deny, even i n the light of this later work, that Cummings' intention i n The Enormous Room - as Professor Smith has suggested - i s i n part* 2^"Ghansons Innocentes I l i 5 " E.E. Cummings: Poems  1923-1954 (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., T 9 5 4 ) , p. 23. 2 5Smith, p. 67. i f not exclusively, to instruct. That work is a fusion of the two ways of writing: writing to instruct and writing to delight. In his a r t i c l e Professor Smith goes on to demon- strate that the influence of The Pilgrim's Progress on The Enormous Room extends beyond the obvious structural and thematic similarities to touch on similarities be- tween the methods of characterization and setting. Professor Smith's findings, valuables although not exhaust- ive, w i l l act as a springboard for my own closer anal- ysis of themes, characterization, and setting i n the works of Bunyan and Cummings, II. A Comparison and Contrast: General Remarks and Methods of Characterization "They [poetsi untie writing and then tie i t up again differently," 2 b "Now l e t us try to understand the zoo as a concatenation of di f - ferently functioning': and variously labelled mirrors, a l l of which are alive. These li v i n g mirrors, mis- takenly called "animals," are for the most part grouped i n systems or "houses," like the "birdhouse" or the "monkey house," and each house or system furnishes us with some particular verdict upon pur- selves. In passing from house to house, from one system of mirrors to another system of mirrors, we discover totally unsuspetedfsicl- aspects of our own existence." ' To begin with, l e t us make a -few general state- ments about The Enormous Room and The Pilgrim's Pro- gress. John Bunyan began composing The Pilgrim !'s Progress i n 1675 during a six-month imprisonment i n the bridge-house at Bedford, England. E.E, Gnmmings began composing The Enormous Room i n New Hampshire 2 &Jbhn Cocteau, quoted i n "Jean Cocteau as a Graphic Artist^". A Miscellany Revised., p. 102. 2?E.E. Cummings, "The Secrets of the Zoo Exposed3". A Miscellany Revised, p. 175. 15 two years after his release from a French detention camp i n 1920. Both works contain autobiographical and didactic elements. Another general point: both Bunyan and Oummings use the pilgrimage from hell to heaven as an image for the l i f e of the s p i r i t . The traveller i n Part I of The Pilgrim 1s Progress is Christian; i n The Enormous Room i t i s Cummings-as-narrator. The travellers i n Part II of The Pilgrimf's. Progress are Christian's fam- i l y , Christiana and her children; their pilgrimage is paralleled i n Chapter VIII of The Enormous Room by the Wanderer's wife and three children* A related point is implicit i n both works: neither Oummings' way nor Christian's is the way of the world. The last general point, stated on the t i t l e page of Bunyan's allegory i s perhaps the most important: the Pilgrim journeys "From This World To That Which / Is To Come." 2® Oummings makes ironic use of Bunyan's movement toward the extramundane:: the American writer's new world is not outside time and space as is Bunyan"s, but on this earth, projected forward i n time: In the course of the next ten thou- sand years i t may be possible to Bunyan, p. x v l i . find Delectable Mountains without going to prison - captivity I mean, Monsieur Le: Surveillant - i t may be possible, I dare say, to en- counter Delectable Mountains who are not in prison , . » o (The Enor- mous Room., p, 307. )*. Cummings carries more than one of his themes by both accommodating and at the same time Ironically revers- ing Bunyan's Puritan values, Cummings, for example, dwells on the outward appearance of both the protagon- i s t - prisoners and the antagonist - o f f i c i a l s . What he i s doing, in effect, is presenting the authoritarian man to the inferiorly-dressed prisoners. And this dis- tinction in dress i s at the heart of the dissension a- rising between Ctammings and the prison o f f i c i a l s . . But Cummings does not stop there. Once he equates an unkempt outward appearance with positive values, he reverses Bunyan"s scheme by negating personal cleanliness* Pro- fessor Smith remarks tel l i n g l y on Cummings1 inversion of values: Cleanliness i s next to ungodliness in Cummings1 ludicrously inverted scheme of things. The only physical- ly clean beings are the non-prison- ers. The "very definite fiend," Apollyon, who i s the director of the prison, i s an impeccable dresser, a terrifying l i t t l e monster whose most disgusting feature i s his inhuman fetish for personal cleanliness ... It i s a perfectly obvious irony • 17 that, behind his puppet-like f a - cade of cleanliness, Apollyon i s re- sponsible f o r the f i l t h i e s t of p r i s - ons. 2 9 Oummings1 adaption of Bunyan takes us further to the thematic centre of The Enormous Room. According to Bunyan, Apollyon i s a monster and a fiend; Oummings1 Apollyon, the Directeur at La Perte Mace, i s likewise monstrous and f i e n d i s h . The c o n f l i c t a r i s i n g between Oummings and the Directeur, central to the themer.of The Enormous Room, finds expression i n the novelist's re- a p p l i c a t i o n of Bunyan"s animal Imagery: So he [ChrlstianJ went on, and Apol- lyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales l i k e a f i s h (and they are his pride), he had wings l i k e a dragon, feet l i k e a. bear, and out of his b e l l y came f i r e and smoke, and his mouth was as the mouth of a l i o n . When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a d i s d a i n f u l countenance, and thus began to question with him.. 30 On the surface these d e t a i l s of description are not p a r t i c u l a r l y s i g n i f i c a n t , but i n the l i g h t of The Enor- mous Room's special use of animal imagery, Bunyan's apparently straight-^?orward description of Apollyon be- comes highly s i g n i f i c a n t . Smith,, p. 69» 3°Bunyan, p. 58 18 The most s t r i k i n g images i n Bunyan's description of Apollyon center on animals, nearly a l l of which are unpleasant and even f i e r c e , such as the monster, the dragon, the bear, and the l i o n . Through these Images the sense of fear and horror i s reinforced. Where Bun- yan has centered t h i s animal imagery on Apollyon though, Cummings has diffused i t : the Zulu i s described as "the f l o a t i n g f i s h of his slimness hal f a b i r d " (p. 2 5 2 ) ; the Wanderer walks "kindly l i k e a bear" (p, 225)j; Jo- Jo becomes the Lion-Paced Boy, Not only has Cummings diffused Bunyan's concen- trated imagery, but he has also tempered the sense of fear and horror aroused by Bunyan's animals: where Bun- yan''s l i o n had been ferocious, Cummings * i s merely p i c - turesque; where stood the preponderant bear of The P i l - grim ''s Progress, now stands the kind and awkward animal o f The Enormous Room; and the f i s h , once proud, i s now only streamlined, A p a r t i c u l a r use of animal imagery i s made i n the case of M,. l e Directeur and the high-ranking among his o f f i c i a l s . Their pride i s established by associating them with the most recurrent of a l l symbols of pride and defiance - the rooster. The clearest instance of thi s association occurs i n the description of the Sur- 19 veillant: ••• teetering a l i t t l e slowly back and forth, and his lean hands joined ^ehind him and twitching regularly, a kepi t i l t e d forward on his cadaverous head so that i t s visor almost hid the weak eyes sunkenly peering from under droopy eyebrows, his pompous rooster-like body immaculately attired i n a shiny uniform ... (p. 9 2 ) • Once again though, Oummings*1 method is not to concentrate the imagery of pride on one character. The rooster im- age, only slightly varied but greatly amplified, had been used to describe the Interrogator at Vingt-et-Un: His neck was exactly like a hen's: I f e l t sure that when he drank he must t i l t his head back as hens do in order that the liquid may run down their throats. But his meth- od of keeping himself upright, to- gether with certain spasmodic con- tractions of his fingers and the nervous 'uh-ah, uh-ah,' which pun- ctuated his insecure phrases like uncertain commas, combined to of- fer the suggestion of a roosterj a rather moth-eaten rooster, which took i t s e l f tremendously seriously and was showing-off to an imaginary group of admiring hens situated somewhere i n the background of his consciousness (pp. 5 6 - 7 ) . Shortly, this o f f i c i a l comes to be known as the rooster (p. 5 7 ) ; i n much the same way as the liberty-loving, hairy-chested farmer; becomes simply The Bear; and'the bulbous-lipped, weak-eyed Gestionnaire, 'the Hippopotamus. 20 The rooster image recurs in the description of Monsieur Petairs, although i n this instance i t i s con- fined to the external appearance of the man and does not intimate pride as i t had i n the case? of the govern- ment officials:. His Adam's-apple, at such moments, jumped about in a longish, slack, wrinkled, skinny neck which was like the neck of a turkey, Eb this turkey the approach of Thanks- giving inspired dread. Prom time to time M, Petairs looked about him sidewise as i f he expected to see a hatchet. His hands were claws, kind, awkward and nervous (p. 100), The image of the cock, used descriptively and sym- bolicc^Ly, i s naturally incorporated into the colloquial expressions i n the novel: Muskowitz, i n terms reminiscent of the Surveillant, i s a Cock-eyed Millionaire and the Young Pole after the Sunday morning fight i s "as cocky as ever the next morning', (p, 233), Cummings extends his use of barnyard imagery to include the pig and the cow. Using the technique pre- viously applied to the Interrogator at Yingt-et-Un, Cum- mings names one of the Surveillant 1s permanent plantons "the beefy one" (p, 82) and then refers to him various- ly as "the beefy bull" (p, 85) and "the beefy-necked" (p. 86). 21 While s t i l l i n Vingt-et-Un the narrator describes the very fat gendarme (v-f-g) as having "pig-like orbs" (p. 28), Later, he refers to M. le Gestionnaire*s "neat pig-like face" (p. 104); later s t i l l , . o u r attention is drawn to the Butcher's "buried pig's eyes" (p. 261)» Each time the narrator focuses on a different feature of these*pig-like men: i n the manner of a movie camera he f i r s t presents a general appearance of the eyes; then he moves back for a shot of the face as a whole* Finally he returns for a close-up of the eyes embedded in the mounds of flesh. From the innocuous barnyard animals the imagery expands to include predatory animals of ferocious natures, though seen only from the aspect of their physical appear- ance* Such an animal i s M, le Gestionnaire: A contented animal, a bulbous animal; the only l i v i n g hippopotamus i n cap- t i v i t y , fresh from the Nile ••.My hay-coloured head perhaps pleased him,, as a hippopotamus. He would perhaps eat me. He grunted, expos- ing tobacco-yellow tusks, and his tiny eyes twittered (p. 105K Characterized by the same tiny eyes but possessing much keener vision i s the vulture, the f i r s t i n a series of bird images which descend i n size and ferocity. Upon his arrival i n the Enormous Room, Oummings i s approached 22 by a "vulture-like silhouette" (p. 62)r later described as having ••• a demoralized broom clenched i n one claw or f i s t : i t had lean legs cased in shabby trousers, muscular shoulders covered with a rough shirt open at the neck, knotted arms, and a coarse, insane face crammed beneath the visor of a cap. The face consist- ed of a rapid nose, drooping moustache, ferocious watery small eyes, a pug- nacious chin, and sunken cheeks hid- eously smiling (p. 67)* • The professeur de dance, a vain effeminate lad of eight- een who makes a brief appearance i n the Enormous Room, is an "absurd peacock" (p0 124)e Upon his removal, the Room is described as a "dung-heap minus a butterfly" (p. 125). The third main pattern of animal imagery in the novel centers on the spider. Singled out for particular treatment are i t s movement, shape, and guile. The Dir- ecteur, for instance, i s described i n Cummings' last interview at La P.erte Mace as ...Apollyon Himself merely cuddled together, depressing his hairy body between i t s limbs as a"spider sometimes does in the presence of danger (p. 2 9 9 ) . This image is foreshadowed earlier i n the novel when the narrator i s being escorted to the office of M. le Gestion- 23 naire: I obligingly ascendedO&nother f l i g h t of stairsj; thinking of the Survelllant as a spider, e l - egantly poised in the centre of his nefarious web, waiting for a f l y to make too many struggles .... (p. 103). The image here reflects the predatory nature of the Sur- velllant as Oummings thinks of him - the human spider and his f l y . If Bunyan seems to have impressed on Oummings the effectiveness of using animal imagery i n developing char acter, he also appears to have provided Oummings with a method of establishing identity. As regards the two chief characters, Christian and Oummings, identity i s established f i r s t i n general terms and proceeds from there to the particular. Following his escape from the Slough of Despond, Christian is no longer just "a man" or "he",, but "Christ ian," no longer an Indefinite quantity lacking depth, but a man with a name.. So, by means of struggle and sorrow, the man frees himself from anonymity. CummingS'' search for an identity is more complex than Christian's, and proceeds beyond mere naming. Like Christian though, Oummings i s defined f i r s t by "I." The definition i s enlarged to include an "ambulance driver," an "American, 24 and f i n a l l y he arrives at a name, "Cummings [[the f i r s t and last time that my name was correctly pronounced by a Frenchman]" (p, 6J,? 1 The name i s then presented i n f u l l along with i t s spelling and genealogy in a humorous scene with M» le Ministre. Cummings proceeds to define himself i n terms of past pursuits, mentioning that he had been both a student and a painter (p. 15), the l a t - ter being a reputation which he s t i l l enjoys* During his confinement i n the Enormous Room the inmates refer to him as "l'americain" or "Johnny;" to the o f f i c i a l s he is "KEW-MANGS" or "KEW-MANGZ", "le nouveau" or " l * autre americain." It i s only when he i s about to leave the Enormous Room that Cummings, the man with so many names, f i n a l l y becomes an individual: • • • I turned into Edward E*: Cummings,. I turned into what was dead and i s now alive, I turned into a city, I turned into a dream - I am standing i n The Enormous Room for the last time, I am saying good- bye. Wo, i t i s not I who am saying good-bye. It i s i n fact somebody else, possibly myself (p, 325 )o In contrast to the development of the narrator i n The Enormous Room, the development of the minor char- acters proceeds from individual to general, "B5", for example, acts as a supplier of information when Cum- Cummings, brackets*. 2 5 mings f i r s t arrives at La Eerte. 3 2 "B" t e l l s him that he i s at Mace , not Marseilles, and further: "Oummings, I t e l l you this i s the finest place on earth" (p. 64).. As a supplier of information "S-" is associated with the Interpreter in The Pilgrim's Progress. In his role of welcoming Oummings to the Enormous Room and introducing him to the inhabitants, "Bi" i s also associated with Bun- yan's Faithful* 33 Similarly, Count Bragard i s a l l i e d with Bunyan"s Formalism, Hypocrisy, and particularly Mr. Worldly Wiseman, who "look (s) like a gentleman" ( P i l - grim "s Progress, p., 2 1 ) , but acts contrariwise., Bunyan's technique of characterization i n The Pilgrim"s Progress depends on the writer''s need to per- sonify the many dimensions of human l i f e in several char- acters: Faithful i s Christian, as are Greed and Hopeful. Oummings' technique i s here similar to Bunyan"s.. The qualities personified i n Bunyan"s secondary characters i . ' , are combined i n Oummings' portrayal of both the French government o f f i c i a l s and the Inhabitants of the Enormous Room. It seems then - to sum up this discussion - that for at least two methods of characterization Oummings is indebted to Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress - the use of animal imagery and the search for identity. > Yet while Of. Smith, p. 70*. "^Bunyan, p. 77. 26 Cummings has used Bunyan's methods, he has both modi- fied and amplified them, thus achieving markedly di f f e r - ent results* I l l * A Comparison and Contrast: The Setting and The Concept of the Journey ' One might be rash enough to conclude that a man has to be at home in some kind of j a i l i n order to become a poet." 34 "Every artist's s t r i c t l y illimitable country i s himself*" 35 The world in which Cummings makes his journey i n The Enormous Room, unlike Christian's world i n The P i l - grim 's Progress, i s s t r i c t l y circumscribed geographical- l y . Cummings' entire novel takes place in a village outside Noyon called Ham, in Gre,. i n Paris, i n a p r i - son at Orne - one hundred miles west of Paris, and con- cludes in New York. But within these geographical lim- i t s Cummings creates a changing setting, and describes i t - as Bunyan does i n The Pilgrim's Progress - with minute precision. For instance, l e t us take a detail from The Enormous Room which at f i r s t seems i n s i g n i f i - cant. Upon arriving at Noyon, the narrator notices a building which resembles "a feudal dungeon" (p, 9)». J Thomas Mann, Tonio Kroger, trans.. H»T. Lowe-Porter. Middlesex: Penguin Books, 196b), p. 155. . ^ E . . E . Cummings, "Re Ezra Pound: II," A Miscellany Revised, p. 313. "" 28 Later that same day, Cummings i s confined to a "prison" (p, 22) i n the nearby town of Gre, where he studies the wall drawings of former French and German prisoners. Later s t i l l , i n the city of Pretend, which he later learns is Mace, Cummings remarks that the building i n the distance i s "either ,,. a church or a tomb" (p» 5 5 ) * ' Approaching the building 5he realizes that i t i s neither,, but a gendarmerie. Each time the narrator draws our attention to another aspect of his place of confinement, carefully introducing f i r s t the dungeon, then the pris- on, then the church or tomb, Cummings comments on each of these buildings and each becomes part of his world. If we group these descriptions together we see that they give us a picture? of change. Despite the narrator's confinement to the Enormous "Room early in the novel, the landscape continues to change - not as a result of the movement from mountain to valley as in The Pilgrim's Progress, but as a result of his focus on the different individuals within the Room,. These inhabitants, like Chaucer's pilgrims,, are revealed through static portraits as well as through the kinds of stories which they t e l l about themselves. Un- like Chaucer though, Cummings dwells on the inner qual- i t i e s of his characters rather than concentrating on their external appearance. 29 Entering the unfamiliar world of the Enormous Room,, Cummings discovers his friend Brown among the inhabitants. Prom the familiar Cummings moves outward to make the ac- quaintance of the two Hollanders - Harree and John o' the Bathhouse, the two Belgians - Emile and Pompom,, M» Auguste - a Russian, and Eritz - a Norwegian., .Minutely and with infi n i t e patience, Cummings describes each of the char- acters and allows them to present accounts of their lives.. Gradually the Enormous Room comes to resemble an inter- national portrait gallery of "authentic individuals. The same holds true for the Delectable Mountains por- trayed i n the latter half of the hovel*. During his three-and-one-half-month residence in the Enormous Room, Cummings notices significant changes in the human landscape: four nouveaux arrive; Brown, Pete~ the Hollander, the Sheeneys, and Rockyfeller are trans- ferred to the prison at Precigne; and perhaps most not- able i s the change which overcomes the narrator himself. He comes to focus solely upon the present and to take stock of what exists within himself.. What he finds there is a timeless world whose spatial dimensions increase according to the influence of his fellow inmates.. Cummings creates the world of the Enormous Room E..E. Cummings, i : i six nonlectures (New Xork: Ath-eneum, 1966), p. 31 30 with the utmost precision so that i t might f u l f i l a spe- c i f i c function not only in this novel but also in his second novel, Eimi. 37 _ s w _ t h i n the changing frame- work of the Enormous Room that the pattern of Oummings1 experiences is set up and i t i s the very nature of this world that gives his experiences significance. The nar- rator's l i f e i s bound up i n every way with this change; i t furnishes the very substance of his experiences and guarantees their authenticity.. Consisting of uninter- rupted contact with; people who are continually changing, Oummings' l i f e from September 1917 u n t i l January 1918 is correctly conceived of as a journey toward spiritual knowledge of the world. The starting-point of Oummings' journey is his con- ception of things as he sees them at Noyon. The hier- archies and values of l i f e : i n Noyon foreshadow the val- ues of Orne and divide Oummings*' universe in two: social- l y , i t i s divided into those who "know" and those who "do not know," that i s , the group to which the o f f i c i a l s and gendarmes belong and the group to which Oummings and most of the volunteers and prisoners belong; moral- ly, i t is divided into feelings that are noble and those which are blameworthy; aesthetically, into the beautiful -"Of. Introduction to The Enormous Room, p. v i i and Kenneth Burke, "A Decade of American Fiction*/' The Bookman. LXIX (August 1929)* 565-6. 5 8Of. Smith, p. 68. 3:1 and the ugly. Similarly, C h r i s t i a n ^ world i s divided in two: in religious terms, i t i s divided into those who follow the tenets-of Christianity and those who do not, that i s , Christian, Christiana, and their children on the one hand, and Pliable, Ignorance, Atheist, and Mr. Worldly Wiseman on the other; morally, i t i s divided into noble and blameworthy feelings; e t h i c a l l y , into v i r - tues and vices; intellectually, into falsehood and truth. The concept of the divided world i s buttressed in both The Pilgrimf's Progress and The Enormous Room by confronting Christian and Gummings with at least two different paths of action at each significant point in their 3>.ourneys. At the beginning of The Pilgrim' s Pro- , gress. for example, one path leads through the Slough of Despond and forward, the other leads back to the City of Destruction. Christian chooses the former path; Pliable, the latter. Later in the same work, two paths lead around the H i l l Difficulty; one leads over i t . Christian chooses the direct and more d i f f i c u l t route; Formalism and Hypocrisy, the circumambulatory route. Which is not to say that Christian's journey i s undev- iatingly traced along the one true path. On the con- trary, he i s often led astray, once by Mr.. Worldly Wise- man and again by Vain-confidence. 32 Like Christian, Cummings i s confronted by two paths. He may either denounce Brown as a traitor and free himself from suspicion or else remain true to Brown and risk detention for complicity,. At La Ferte' he must choose whether to oppose the o f f i c i a l s or to yield in subservience to them and f a c i l i t a t e his stay, Cummings1 decisions, like Christian's, are made i n favour of truth,, virtue, and noble feelings. From the time of Cummings' entrance into the Enormous Room we notice several interesting parallels between the setting of this novel and i t s source,. The Interpreter i n Bunyan's allegory, for example, leads Christian into a "private room" (The Pilgrim"s Progress, p. 29) in his house where hangs the portrait of a grave person. Later in Book II. Christiana i s led into the same Significant 39 Rooms, which ...Christian, Christiana's husband, had seen sometime before. Here therefore — they saw the man i n the cage, the man and his dream, the man that cut his way through his enemies, and the picture of the biggest of them a l l , together with the rest of those things that were then so profitable to Christian (p„ 2 0 8 ) , Bunyan's Significant Rooms and the pictures therein are reflected with modifications in Cummings' Enormous Room and his l i v i n g portraits. One of the f i r s t rooms viewed > ^y"Conveying particular meaning" according to Louis Martz's notes. 33 by Christiana and her company houses a man holding a muck-rake, whose glance is perpetually cast downward, Oummings* Surplice i s strongly reminiscent of this figure. And yet Oummings has ironically portrayed Surplice as a Chilist figure, even the "muck" takes on positive conno- tations. From this point they are conducted to "the very best room in the house (a very brave room i t was)" (p. 209),- No portrait i s to be found here but on the wall i s poised a huge spider. Christiana learns from this room that even the most venomous of creatures, i f they have faith, may dwell i n the finest rooms of the ' ' *' Heavenly Palace, Oummings' treatment of this particular scene is ironically inverted. The spider i s personified by the Survelllant, who although faithless, remains "elegantly poised in the center of his nefarious web, waiting for a f l y ..." (The Enormous Room, p,: 103)© Furthermore, "the very best room" in La Ferte i s the office of M. le Gestionnaire, Before entering the room* the planton knocks twice, as had both Christian and Christiana before they had entered the House of the Interpreter, In M. le Gestionnaire*s office Clummings does not find enlightenment as had Christian and his wife in the "very best room" of the Interpreter's house. Instead ? he finds a witless, insensate administrator, whose neg- 34 ative qualities are exaggerated for comic effect. En- lightenment is not to be found i n this office but i n what is undoubtedly the very worst room in the house, what Oummings fondly labels the Enormous Room. What Cummings learns in the Enormous Room i s car- ried with him when he leaves for New York. What Christ- ian learns on the journey from the City of Destruction he carries with him into the Celestial City. Christian ends his quest i n affirmation. Behind him stretches a road on which no step has been f u t i l e , which no longer seems to have meandered aimlessly for i t has led him to a definite and desirable destination. For Bunyan the pilgrimage of the f i r s t section has ended. Cummings' pilgrimage, on the other hand, ends in a qualified affirmation. Paradise i s neither gained nor regained in this novel. The narrator's mood"most nearly approximates optimism when he writes: "In the course of the next ten thousand years i t may be possible to find Delectable Mountains without going to prison ..." (p.- 307 .For Cummings the journey has not ended; the experience in this novel is to be repeatedly related i n his subse- quent works. 35 The main narrative of The Enormous Room, like that of The Pilgrim's Progress and even of Hesse's Narcissus and Goldmund. is formed by the journey. Hesse's work of- fers a further parallel with Cummings' in that the jour- neys of the main characters i n both novels begin and end at the same place. For Goldmund that place i s Mariabronn where he had formerly been a student. For Cummings the place is America, where he too had been a student. The conclusion of the narrator's journey i n The Enormous Room reflects Cummings' striking accord with the works of another of his contemporaries, D.H. Lawrence, many of whose novels have the elements of a quest* For instance, Cummings' attraction to the light of the city after the darkness of the Enormous Room recalls Paul Morel's similar attraction after his mother's death in Sons and Lovers; Turning sharply, he walked towards the city's gold phosphorescence. His f i s t s were shut, his mouth set fast.. He would not take that dir- ection, to the darkness, to follow her. He walked towards the faint- ly humming, glowing town, quiekly. 4-0 Another passage, noteworthy because of the protagonist's fascination with both light and the city after having 4UD.,H* Lawrence, Sons and Lovers (New York: The Viking Press, 1966} p7~^2DT 36 recently undergone a grueling experience, appears i n LVH.. Lawrence's The Rainbow, published seven years i n advance of The Enormous Ro Steadily the colour gathered,, mysterious- ly, from nowhere, i t took presence upon i t - self, there was a faint vast rainbow. The arc bended and strengthened i t s e l f t i l l i t arched indomitable, making great architecture of light and colour>and the space of heaven, i t s pedestals luminous in the corruption of new houses on the low i h i l l , i t s arch the top of, heaven • «.. She {Ursula] s a w *"n " t l i e rainbow the earth's new architecture, the old, ̂ r i t t l e corrupt- ion of houses and factories swept' away,, the world built up i n a l i v i n g fabric of . Truth, f i t t i n g to the over-arching heaven. 4 1 "Whereas Lawrence's vision i s more optimistic^,and far- reaching than Cummings', both their quests emphasize the journey more than the ar r i v a l . They offer a contrast with Bunyan's quest i n which both the journey and the ar- r i v a l are of equal importance. Cummings'.journey without end finds a precedent i n Montaigne's Essais. where he states that i t ,is the journey and not (the arrival,that matters: I do not portray being, I portray, passing. Not the passing from one " age to another, or, as the people say, from seven years to seven years, but from day to day, from minute to minute ... If my mind could gain a D.H, Lawrence, The Rainbow (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1961), pp. 495̂ [6J7 37 firm footing, I would not make essays, I would make decisions; but i t i s always in.apprentice- ship and on t r i a l . . 4 2 Montaigne's statement here echoes Chanmings,! narrative technique in The Enormous Rooms ^"Qf Kepentance.3" Book III, The Complete: Works of Montaigne, trans. Donald M. Frame? (London:: Hamish Ham- ilton,, n.d,), pp.a 1585-88. r IV/* The Excremental Vision in The Enormous Room: A Review of Criticism and Concluding Statements "Did you ever share an otherwise; pal- a t i a l dungheap with much too many . other vividly stinking human beings?" 4 3 "As for my feeble mind, that I w i l l leave behind me, for that I: shall have?no need of that i n the place whither I go. Nor i s i t worth bestowing upon the poorest p i l - grim; wherefore when I am gone, I desire that you, Mr* Valiant ; < h would bury i t in a dunghill," 4 4 To bring the comparison betweien The Pilgrim"s Progress and The Enormous Room to an end we_ may per- haps ask i f there are any general considerations which have been overlooked or insufficiently treated. There i s certainly one and that is Oummings1 fascination with excrement i n the novel. This fascination was the focus of much criticism following the publication of the novel in 1922* Yst, despite the attention directed toward i t , c r i t i c a l treatment of this particular feature has sel- dom been satisfactory, Numerous early c r i t i c s , among them D.K. Lamb and an anonymous reviewer i n the Boston ^E.E, Gummings, "Exit the Boob3" A Miscellany Re- vised, p. 287. " 4 4Bunyan, p. 325. 39 Transcript. 45 have voiced their disapproval of Oum- mings1 excessive concern with excrement* 4 ^ _ n another early but favourable review of The Enormous Room John Peale Bishop alludes to Havelock E l l i s ' essay on Zola where a defense can be found for Oummings' use of words and themes unpopular in print at the time. Some of E l l i s * defenses i n that essay can be as readily applied to Rabelais or Swift as they can to E.E. Gumming s. One such statement concerns the content of a work of art: The chief service which Zola has ren- dered to his fellow-artists and suc- cessors, the reason of the immense stimulus he supplies, seems to l i e in the proofs he has brought of the l a - tent a r t i s t i c use of the rough, ne- glected details of l i f e . The Rougon- Macquart series has been to his weak- er bretheren like that great sheet knit at the four corners, l e t down from Heaven f u l l of foul-fopted beasts and creeping things and fowls of the air, and bearing in i t the demonstra- tion that to the a r t i s t as to the mor- a l i s t nothing can be called common or unclean. It has henceforth become possible for other novelists to find inspiration where before they could never have turned, to touch l i f e with a vigour and audacity of phrase which, without Zola's example, they would have trembled to use, while they s t i l l re- main free to bring to their work the sim- p l i c i t y , precision, and inner experience which he never possessed* 4 ' 4^17 May, 1922* Rudolph von Abele draws attention to Oummings' sa t i r i c use of excrement in the poetry in "Only to Grow Change in the Poetry of E.E. Oummings." PMLA. 70 (Dec- ember 1955), 913-933. 4 0 In a correlative statement E l l i s defends Zola's use of coarse language. Again the defense i s applicable to The Enormous Room: Zola has used slang - the argot of the populace - copiously ..• A con- siderable part of the power of L'Assomoir ••• l i e s i n the s k i l l i n which he uses the language of the people he i s dealing with; the reader i s bathed throughout i n an atmosphere of picturesque, vigorous, often coarse argot.. There i s , no doubt, a lack of c r i t i c a l sobriety in the profusion and reiteration of vulgarisms, of coarse oaths, of the .varied' common synonyms for common things. But they achieve the end . that Zola sought, and so justify themselves. 4 ° Like Zola, Cummings uses the language, of the people with whom he is dealing - the prisoners and the o f f i c i a l s - and in the case of the prisoners the language i s a l - ways picturesque and often vulgar. The comment that Cfummings' style invites i s not that the novelist i s given to babbling and crudity but rather that he tries,, gropingly at times* to find vigorous expressions to 47 Havelock E l l i s , "Zola.'" Affirmations (London: Con- stable & Company Ltd.* 1926J* p. 143. 4 8Ibid.,. p. 145. 41 match the characters and the experiences of the Enor- mous Room.4^ E l l i s concludes that "we look at hisjzola's]work, : not as great art but as an important moment in the evo- lution of the novel ..." ̂ ° Such would seem to be the position of The: Enormous Room i n the development .of the American novel*! Havelock E l l i s * essay insofar as i t concerns the use of rough details and coarse language i s more poten- t i a l than definitive and i t i s with an awareness of i t s limitations that Bishop>cites i t . Likewise, David: E, Smith's 1962 article has great potential, particularly in the footnote where he points out the: similarities between the anal character of Oummings' Apollyon <:.:•  r and Luther's devil as the- character of the latter i s developed in Norman 0,: Brown's Life. Against Death: The. Psychoanalytical Meaning of History, 51 _ n that work Norman 0> Brown makes an̂  interesting even i r r e s i s t i b l e connection between excrement and death, A re*-examination of the excremental vision i n The Enormous Room in terms exception i s to be found in The Enormous Room, p, 279, The use: of asterisks there indicates not tim- , id i t y but an aversion on the part of the reading audience to the use of certain words i n print, 5°Ellis, p.i 144. - 5 1Smith, p.: 75* of the relationship established by Brown tends to sup- port, amplify, and deepen Cummings1, vision. Explicating Freud's position i n Civilization and Its Discontents. Norman 0, Brown writes: In his Q?reud's] view, sublimation i s a defense of a higher form of l i f e against residual animality. But the irony i s that sublimation activates the-morbid animality (anality), and the higher form of l i f e , c i v i l i z a t i o n , reveals the lower form of l i f e , the Yahoo, To r i s e above the body i s to equate the body with excrement,,' 52 And further Brown maintains that ••• as long as humanity prefers a dead l i f e to a li v i n g , so long i s humanity committed to treating as excrement not only i t s own body but the surrounding world of objects, reducing a l l to dead matter and inorganic magnitudes,. Our much prized "objectivity toward our own bodies, other persons, and the universe, a l l our calculating "rational- ity,," i s , from the psychoanalytical point of view, an ambivalent mixture of love and hate, an attitude appropriate only toward excrement, and appropriate to excrement only i n an animal that has lost his own body and life,? 53 ^Brown, p,; 295 5 3Ibid.' 4 3 * n Tne Enormous Room Surplice i s the character most closely associated* with the d>ea<$ l i f e of the body.. It i s he who f a i t h f u l l y and lovingly rids the Room of excrement:: ..Wevery morning he takes the pail of sol- id excrement down, without anyone's sug- gesting that he take i t ; takes i t as i f i t were his, empties i t in the sewer just beyond the cour des femmes. or pours a l i t t l e (just a l i t t l e ) very delicately on the garden where Monsieur le Llrecteur i s growing a flower" for his daughter — he has, in fact, an unobstreperous a f f i n i t y for excrement; he lives in i t ; he i s shaggy and spotted and blotched with i t ; he sleeps in i t ; he puts i t i n his pipe and says i t i s delicious • ••• (p. 257). Appropriately, Surplice i s portrayed as a Christ-like figure:: his intense devotion and his fascination with excrement combine to make him a natural scapegoat. Furthermore, his departure; from the Enormous Room i s de- scribed i n imagery reminiscent of the Last Supper. As a Christ figure Surplice removes the dead waste from the midst of l i f e and maintains the delicate balance between l i f e and death in the Enormous Room. As well as elucidating the character of Surplice in Cummings1! novel, Norman 0 . Brown's theory also serves as a valuable means of penetrating to the core of Mr. Feeble-mind's burial In The Pilgrim's Progress. Summoned 4 4 to the Celestial City, Mr, Feeble-mind requests that Mr, Valiant bury the useless mind in a dunghill: As for my feeble mind, that I w i l l leave behind me, for that I shall have no need of that in the place whither I go,; Ubr i s i t worth bestowing upon the poorest p i l - grim; wherefore when I am gone, I desire that you, Mr, Valiant, would bury i t i n a dunghill (p., 325 )• This statement echoes Old Mi*. Honest's remark i n The Second Part of The Pilgrim*'s Progress that Christian carried a Slough of Despond in his mindr Well, after he (Christian)had l a i n at the Slough of Despond a great while, as I have told you, one sunshine morning, I do not know how, he ventured, and so got over; but when he was over, he would scarce believe i t . He had, I think, a Slough of Despond i n his mind; a slough that he carried every- where with him, or else he could never have been as he was (p^ 262),- Hot only has the body been equated with excrement, in Brown's terms, but so has the mind. The connection between the mind and the dead l i f e of the body would be readily acceptable to Oummings, In fact, he has used i t often in the 1926 collection of poems, i s . _ , particularly the. piece entitled "POEM, OR BEAUTY HURTS MR. VINAL." 4 5 The Freudian reading of these particular passages in The Pilgrim's Progress may appear conjectural and ex- aggerated, but they establish an important link between the dead mind-body and excrement in the works of Bunyan and Cummings. Moreover, the Freudian interpretation i s justified i n terms set forth by Lionel T r i l l i n g i n "Freud and Literature:" The Freudian psychology i s the only systematic account of the human mind which, in point of subtlety and com- plexity, of interest and tragic power, deserves to stand beside the chaotic mass of psychological insights which literature has accumulated through the centuries., 54 In summary then, I find myself in agreement with David E* Smith, Kingsley Widmer, and John Peale Bishop that there i s no one-to-one correspondence between Cum- mings' The Enormous Room and Bunyan's The Pilgrim"s Pro- gress. And whereas I do not insi s t on a Freudian read- . ing of the excremental vision in the novel, although such a reading does reveal certain insights into both the novel and the allegory,,! do insist on those links already developed in some detail: the use of the p i l - grimage, the development of character in terms of an- imal imagery, the search for identity, and the duplication of landscapes. 5 4 L i o n e l T r i l l i n g , "Freud and Literature^". The Lib- eral Imagination (Hew York:- Doubleday & Company, Inc.-, 1953J5P. 3 2 . 2 CHARACTERIZATION IN THE ENORMOUS ROOM. I* Characterization and Comedy in the Novel; The Source of the Comedy and Revelation of Character Through Hands and Eyes "Antique perspective presented us with geometrical concepts of objects - as they could be seen only by an ideal eye. Our perspective- shows us objects as we see them with both eyes - gropingly*. We no longer construct the visual world with an acute angle converging on the horizon.. We: open up this angle:, pulling represen- tation against us, upon us, towards: us «... We take part in this world. That is why we are not afraid to use close-ups i n films:: to portray a man as he sometimes seems to us, out of natural proportions, suddenly f i f t y centimetres away from us; -. we. are: not afraid'to use metaphors, that leap from the lines of a poem, or to a l - - low the piercing sound of a trombone to swoop out of the orchestra, aggressively 6" The characters i n the 'Enormous Room act out plays with one another which are sometimes gentle, and some- times brutal, but most often humorous. This humour per- vades the novel,, illuminating a l l the characters and the narrator as well; yet i t does not emanate directly from a l l of them. Only the narrator in the novel i s suf- f i c i e n t l y detached from the spectacle of his own l i f e i n prison to look at himself and the world around him with the perspective necessary for humour. And i t is through 55Rene Guillere, quoted in Serge Eisenstein, "Syn- chronization of Senses," The Film Sense (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1968), p. 81. 4 7 what Cummings sees, hears, and reports, apparently with- out reservation, that the events and impressions are re- lated to the reader. It i s never easy for the reader to overlook the ironic atmosphere in which so many of the scenes of the novel are bathed because Cummings1' humour qualifies and humanizes the relationships between the characters in the Enormous Room, It i s perhaps because his attitude i s one of af- fection that the narrator sees so clearly, in actions . . . . that are slightly absurd and therefore i n f i n i t e l y moving, the childishness of Jean le Negre: There was another game; - a'pure child's game- which Jean played. It was the name game. He amused himself for hours toget- her by lying on his paillasse, t i l t i n g his head back, rol l i n g up his eyes, and crying in a high quavering voice: - 'JAW- neeeeeee.1 After a repetition or two of his own name in English, he would demand sharply 'Qui m'appelle? Mexique? Est-ce que""tu m1 appelle". Mexique?' and i f Mexique~happened to be asleep, Jean would rush over and cry i n his ear shaking ;him thor- oughly - 'Est-ce tu m'appellle, tol?' Or i t might be BarbuT or Pete the Hollander, or B, or myself, of which he sternly asked the question - which was always followed by quan- t i t i e s of laughter on Jean's part. He was never perfectly happy unless exercising his inexhaustible imagin- ation (pp. 279-80). ;' The same affectionate humour envelops Cummings when he notices The Wanderer's wife bathing their child i n 48 the yard: One fine day, perhaps the finest day, I looked from a window of The. Enormous Room and saw (in the same spot that Lena had enjoyed her half- hour promenade during confinement i n the cabinot. as related) the wife of the Wanderer, 'nee Peliska,.' giving his baby a bath i n a p a i l , while the. Wanderer sat in the sun smoking. About the pa i l an absorh«d group of •pu tains stood. Several plan tons (abandoning for one instant their plantonic demeanour) leaned upon their guns and watched. Some even smiled a l i t t l e . And the mother, holding the brownish, naked, crowing child tenderly, was swimming i t quietly to etnd fro, to the delight of Celina in particular. To Cellna i t waved i t s arms greetingly. She stooped and spoke to i t . The mother smiled. The Wanderer, looking from time to time at his wife, smoked and pondered by himself in the sunlight (p.. 226). The scene in which Oummings i s introduced to M. le Gestionnaire i s likewise purely comic. The planton"s behaviour preceding Oummings' interview with M... le Gestion- naire prepares us for a dreadful character. Instead, we are confronted by ... a very fat personage with a black skull-cap perched upon i t s head. Its face was possessed of an enormous nose, on which pince- nez precariously roosted; other- wise said face was large, whisker- ed, very German and had three chins. • Extraordinary creature. Its belly, as i t sat, was slightly dented by the table-top, on which table-top 49 rested several enormous tomes sim- i l a r to those employed by the re- cording angel on the Day of Judg- ment, and ink-stand or two, i n - numerable pens and pencils, and some positively fatal-looking papers (p. 104). The religious imagery, which i s woven throughout the scene leading up to the introduction, i s applied iron- i c a l l y : St. Peter becomes a bulbous hippopotamus-like o f f i c i a l in a librarian's smock, who is puzzled to learn of Cummings1 place of origin and has great dif- f i c u l t y i n spelling the prisoner's name. Cummings' humour here as i n the previous two examples centers on the incongruity between two aspects of a given situation, i t s aspect as f e l t subjectively, and as i t appears object- ively. The narrator himself associates his actions and words with his feelings. Seen from the outside, these actions appear to an observer slightly absurd and unreal. And i t is the body which Cummings inhabits and through which he must approach others which imposes absurd l i m i t - ations upon emotions: Jean's inexhaustible imagination operating in a prison room, the sentimental bathing scene with the pu tains and the plantons, the scene with M.. le Gestionnaire and the planton - such i s the essence of Cummings' humour. 50 Comedy of the same kind is manifested by the planton in the last scene. It i s he who has prepared the prisoner for a merciless authoritarian. During the i n - terview, however, M. le Gestionnaire reveals a frank admiration for the American prisoner and treats him genially. The planton i s angered by this response and expresses his annoyance by rasping his boot on the threshold of the door while Oummings i s being questioned. The translator, who had been standing inconspicuously in the corner during the f i r s t moments of the interview, is also impressed by Oummings' command of the language.. In fact, the anglicized spelling of My le Gestionnaire's speech combined with the sickly look of the translator probably indicate that Oummings spoke French as well as, i f not better than, either of them. The lives of both the plantons and M«< le Gestion- naire are acted out on several levels. In reality, l i f e acts through these characters and betrays them a l l too easily in the body which i s visible to a l l except them- selves. The face of M. le Gestionnaire, the would-be: saint, draws the narrator's attention: Such a round, fat, red, pleasant, beer-drinking face as reminded me only and immediateLy of huge 51 > meerschaum pipes, Deutsche Verein mottos, sudsy seidels of Wurtz- burger, and Jacob f i r t h 1 s (once upon a time) brachwurst. Such pin-like pink merry eyes as made me think of Kris Kringle himself (p. 105). This discordance between the body and the avowed per- sonality betrays the comic role which M. le Gestion- naire is playing: the real person is revealed beneath the doll-like surface. The unmasking is done again with Count de Bragard. That character i s described at the outset as ... a perfect type: the apotheosis of injured nobility, the humiliated victim of perfectly unfortunate c i r - cumstances, the utterly respectable gentleman who has seen better days. There was about him,, moreover, some- thing irretrievably English, nay e- ven pathetically Victorian - i t was as i f a page of Dickens was shaking my friend's hand (pp.. 7 1 - 2 ) . As the novel progresses, however, we learn that the Count i s a hypocrite and a thief. It i s the face, the eyes particularly, that betray the actor in the i n - dividual: Bragard's "grey tired eyes" (p. 204), M. le Gestionnaire's "frank and stupid eyes" (p. 105), and the "razor-keen eyes" (p. 127) of the Surveillant, Almost a l l Oummings1 characters are betrayed either by their eyes or their hands: Bragard has "tired looking hands" (p. 205), Zulu "sensitive fingers" (p. 243), Mme* Demestre "slender golden hands" (p. 219), the Spy "treacherous hands" (p. 199), and the School- master a "weak bony hand" (p. 118). Oummings' focus on hands is characteristic not only of The Enormous Room but also of the poetry from the early Tulips and Chimneys (1923) to the later Xaipe (1950). Oummings' keen eye for detail, manifest in his descriptions of hands, which not only possess a l i f e of their own but also participate in the l i f e of the body, is reminiscent of Rilke's descriptions of hands in his Sonnets to Orpheus, New Poems, and especially in "The Rodin-Hook" where he comments on that sculptor's work: The ar t i s t has the right to make one thing out of many and a world out of the smallest part of a thing. Rodin has made hands, independent, small hands which, without forming part of a body, are yet alive. Hands rising upright, angry and irr i t a t e d , hands whose five, bristling fingers seem to bark like the five throats of a Cer- berus. Hands in motion, sleeping hands and hands in the act of awaking; criminal hands wlthfed by heredity, hands that are tired and have lost a l l desire, lying like some sick beast crouched in a corner, Knowing none 53 can help them. But,hands are a comp- licated organism, a delta in which much l i f e from distant sources flows together and is poured into the great stream of action. Hands have a history of their own., they have, indeed, their own c i v i l i z a t i o n , their special beauty; we concede to them the right to have their own development, their own wish- es, feelings, moods and favourite oc- cupations. Both Cummings and Rilke focus their attention on the Shape of hands, their gestures, and above a l l , on their contact. For both artists the contact resembles a spir- i t u a l penetration, the illumination of one person by an- other. But where Rilke's particular concern is the shap warmth, and tenderness of hands, Cummings1 i s more exten siye; i t Includes the movement of individual fingers and further attributes the characteristically human fea- tures to the suh, the moon, the wind, and the rain. 7̂ While Cummings may be in Rilke's debt either con- sciously or unconsciously, he may also owe something to another of Ms contemporaries and for a time his com- patriot, Gaston Lachaise. The two artists were well acquainted: CJummings wrote a review for The Dial in 1920 praising Lachaise; Lachaise sculptured a bust- portrait of Cummings four years later. Rainer Maria Rilke, "The Rodin-Book: Part One," Selected Works, trans. G. Craig Houston (Norfold: New Directions, 1960), I, 110-11* One of the most striking features of Lachaise's sculpture is the a r t i s t i c completeness and wholeness of the actual fragments:: notably the torso poses - in part icular the "Torso With Arms Raised" and the "Torso of El evation," in addition to the work consisting solely of a pair of bent knees (entitled "Knees"), and the "Hand of Richard Buhlig." It i s this completeness, of the fragment that links Oummings and Lachaise. The former is s k i l f u l in depicting character by means of a few gestures, the features of the hands, or the movements of the eyes; the latter, a dramatist in sculpture, evokes a sense of l i f e in the whole through the parts. Praising the sculpture of Lachaise in a well-known art- i c l e for The Dial. Oummings writes: There is one thing which Lachaise would rather do than anything else, and that i s to experience the big- nesses and whitenesses and silences, of the polar regions. His l i v e l y interest in Esquimaux drawings and customs stems from this absolutely inherent desire - to negate the myr- iad with the single, to annihilate the complicatedness and prettinesses and t r i v i a l i t i e s of Southern c i v i l - izations with the enormous, the soir : , itary, the fundamental. ->o Of. Tulips (1923), J_ad (1925), is (1926), and 58 Quoted in A Miscellany Revised, pp. 15-16. This statement applies rather well to Cummings' own method in The Enormous Room for he too is concerned with the "bignesses" and the "silences" of a barren region. In such an environment Cummings too concen- trates on the "single," the "enormous, the solitary, the fundamental." II* Game Playing and Its Function in The Enormous Room: Count Bragard, Jean, Surplice and Their Roles " A l l the world's a stage, And a l l the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts." 59 If there i s anything particularly ter- rifying about prisons, or at least im- itations of prisons such as La Ferte', i t is possibly the utter obviousness with which (quite unknown to themselves) the prisoners demonstrate w i l l y - n i l l y cer- tain fundamental psychological laws. °° Having established the importance of roles i n The Enormous Room, we now proceed to a closer examination of the roles assumed by some of the main characters.. The Count de Bragard, more than any other person in the Enor- mous Room,, is an a r t i f i c i a l character. He is the antag- onist of a drama of disguises, misunderstandings, and exposures. Bragard stands apart from the other occupants of the Room because of his personality, his occupation, and his background. The Count's dress i s more elaborate than that of the other characters because he is trying to build-up 5 9 , 1 As You Like It,," II, v i i i . The Pictorial Edition of the Works of Shakespeare, ed. Charles Knight (New York: F.P. Collier, n.d.); II, 220. ^°The Enormous Room, p. 264. i 57 a f i c t i t i o u s character and at the same time to commun- icate something more than this character conveys. He makes a muoh more concentrated effort toward establish- ing friendships than do any of the others. His attempts both to conceal and to reveal what he i s constantly con- tradict each other. Despite Bragard"s uniqueness, he does embody a l l the prejudices of one i n his position. Supposedly an aristocrat, he has pride in his birth r i t e as well as an insolent scorn for the coarse low l i f e characters with whom he i s confined. He i s set apart from other aristocrats because of his claim to be a r t i s t i c a l l y gifted. His chief weapon of defense i s his articulate- ness, which may take on a savage, insolent, or pathetic tone. His aristocratic t i t l e , his a r t i s t i c inclinations, and his cosmopolitan background make him a solitary character in the Enormous Room, both contemptible and contemptuous, Cummings sees this character at the outset as a caricature: "a perfect type," 'the victim of "perfectly unfortunate circumstances," "utterly respectable," "irretrievably English," and possessing the "accents of indisputable culture" (pp. 71-2), A l i t t l e later Cummings makes an interesting com- merit on Count Bragard: 58 I have already noted the fact that Count Bragard 1s fondness for this roly-poly individual, whose belly - as he lay upon his back of a morning in bed - rose up with the sheets, blankets and quilts as much as two feet above the level of his small stupid head studded with chins, I have said that this admiration on the part of the ad- mirable Count and R,A, for a per- sonage of the Spanish Whoremaster's profession somewhat interested me (P. 203). And so the narrator's f i r s t impression of the Count is considerably altered: the Dickensian gentleman how seems to realize the advantages of cultivating a re- lationship with a whoremaster. Acting as a contrast to the Cummings-Bragard re- lationship i s the friendship of Cummings and Jean le Negre, The f i r s t contact i s made through Jean's spon- taneous outburst: Entered a beautiful p i l l a r of black strutting muscle topped with a tremen- dous display of the whitest teeth on earth. The muscle bowed politely in our direction, the grin remarked mus- ic a l l y ; 'Bjo'jour. tou' 1' monde': then came a cascade of laughter. Its effect on the spectators was instant- aneous: they roared and danced with joy (p, 270). 59 Afterwards, Jean amuses himself with a game, one of many which Oummings reports. Standing by himself in the cour, Jean i s intently studying a copy of the Lon- don Daily Mail upside-down: 'Est-ce vrail V'la. le ro i d' Angleterre est maiade. Quelque chose! - « Comment? La relne aussi? Bon Pieut Qu1est-ce que c'est? - Mon  pWre est mort!"" Merde 1 - Eh, b'en 1 La guerre est finiTsic). Bon (p, 271)• Jean further occupies himself with practical jokes, songs, imaginary telephone conversations, rhym- ing games, and the name game- previously mentioned i n conjunction with the humour of the novel. . The name games and the rhyme games bring to mind some of Johan Huizinga's remarks on the nature of play in Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. A few brief and general comments concerning Mr. Huizinga's theories would help establish a framework for discussing Jean's particular fascination with games. In his book Mr„ Huizinga offers three characteristics of play: i t i s a leisure-time activity; i t i s marked by an element of make-believe; and i t i s conducted within spatial and temporal limitations. A l l three characteristics apply from Oummings' point of view to Jean's play situations 60 as well as to the other games carried on within the con- fines of the novel: the procuring of water, the attempts to communicate with the women, the many linguistic games, and the war game i n the background. An important di f - ference does exist, however, between Jean!s games and those of the others. That difference may be explained in terms of one of Huizinga's statements: When a certain form of religion ac- cepts a sacred identity between two things of a different order, say a human being and an animal, this re- lationship is not adequately expres- sed by calling i t a "symbolic cor- respondence" as we conceive this. The identity, the essential oneness of the two goes far deeper than the correspondence between a substance and i t s symbolic image. It i s a mystic unity. The one has become the other. In his magic dance, the savage i s a kangaroo. 0 1 This passage, slightly altered, strikes to the core of Jean's performance in the games. Jean's games are not r i t u a l i s t i c nor is his correspondence with an animal anything but allusive. Jean, however, does resemble the savage, the primitive mind with i t s total immersion in the present, i t s relative freedom from future desires and past memories. And whereas he does not identify with animals, he does assume the identity of other people to Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play- Element i n Culture (Boston: Beacon Press,, 1966), p 9 25, 61 f the point of actually becoming them - the Lord of the Admiralty, son of the Lord Mayor of London by the Queen, the conveyor of news, the game supervisor during dominoes, the fighter, and the martyr. Jean's brief but interest- ing performances on the stage of the Enormous Room are for the most part comic and yet we can never be quite sure what part Jean i s playing in what drama or even what i s the nature and extent of his disguise. Count de Bragard's game i s in keeping with this ambiguity. Prom the beginning this man lays claims to nobility and a r t i s t i c talent. During the course of Cum- mings' and "Bi's confinement Count Bragard's cordiality wanes. Cummings recognizes that the Count, who claims an acquaintance with clzanne, is unable to provide a de- scription of the a r t i s t . Furthermore, every conversation dealing with art culminates in the avowed impossibility of producing art in the intolerable environment of La Ferte. Cummings i s aware rather early in the game that Bragard i s a fraud, consequently , when Bragard leaves La Ferte, Cummings and "B" refuse him the money which he requests. By refusing to play Cummings and "B" commit the unpardonable act in the world of games. 62 Surplice's section of the novel discloses another game in which a l l occupants of the Enormous Room partic- ipate, the game of scapegoating, which begins as soon as personalities become involved. Surplice i s introduced as a totally ignorant yet exceedingly religious man: .,, every Friday he w i l l be found sitting on a l i t t l e kind of stool by his paillasse, reading his pray- er-book upside down; turning with enormous delicacy the thin d i f f i c u l t leaves, smiling to himself as he , sees and does not read (p, 257), Such a blatant demonstration of both his ignorance and religiousness makes Surplice an ideal scapegoat. Given the miserable environment of the Enormous Room and sub- jected to the often degrading treatment by the o f f i c i a l s , the prisoners select one of their weaker members for cruel treatment and ridicule. In the Enormous Room Sur- plice i s the victim: In the case of Surplice, to be the butt of everyone's ridicule could not be called precisely suffering; inasmuch as Surplice, being unspeakably lonely, enjoyed any and a l l insults for the simple reason that they constituted or at least implied a recognition of his existence. To be made a fool of was, to this otherwise completely neglected individual, a mark of dis- tinction; something to take pleasure 63 in; to be proud of. The inhabitants of The Enormous Room had given to Sur- plice a small but essential part in the drama of La Mlse^e: he would play that part to the utmost of his a b i l i t y ; the cap-and-bells should not grace a head unworthy of their high significance (p». 262). We then see Surplice, submissive and ignorant, being taunted by his fellow inmates. Here Surplice, or "Syph'lis" as the men c a l l him, i s experiencing gen- uine cruelty and yet the jeering and taunting is trans- muted into positive feelings. Following the name-calling scene Surplice can be found "smiling and even chuckling ... very happy ... as only an actor Is happy whose ef- forts have been greeted with universal applause.... (p. 264). Surplice maintains his role through the Last Sup- per preceding his transfer to the concentration camp at Precigne - s t i l l subservient and slightly ridiculous. But i t i s the rule in Cummings' Enormous Room that the ridiculous and the absurd character towers above the people among whom he moves. Surplice earns his place as a Delectable Mountain. Each of the Delectable Mountains is the central character in a series of plays for which his l i f e in the Enormous Room provides the stage and on which other char- acters appear only in supporting roles. 3 THE ACHIEVEMENT, OF BALANCE IN. "THE ENORMOUS ROOM" I. The Dramatic Balance in the Novel "...I do not purpose to i n f l i c t upon the reader a diary of my alternative alive- ness and non-existence at La Perte I shall (on the contrary) l i f t from their grey box at random certain (to me) more or less astonishing toys; which may or may not please the reader, but whose colours and shapes and tex- tures are a part of that actual Present- without future or past-whereof they a- lone are cognizant who, so to speak, have submitted to an amputation of the world." 62 One of the most impressive structural principles in The Enormous Room is Oummings' use of dramatic s i t - uations to produce and sustain a balanced atmosphere. At the opening of Chapter I we have several incidents which ill u s t r a t e this balancer. The episode of the lost hat is a tense scene i n which Oummings underestimates the gravity of his situation. There the "tin-derby" re- sponds to Oummings1 overenthusiastic attempt to retrieve the driver's hat by drawing a revolver and aiming i t at the unwary prisoner. Using mechanical imagery to explain 62 The Enormous Room, p* 114. 6 5 the effect of this action, Cummings states: My mind f e l t as i f i t had been thrown suddenly from fourth i n - to reverse. I pondered and said nothing (p. 8). On f i r s t reading the scene appears melodramatic but when reviewed in light of what we learn about the nar- rator i t i s most effective. This tense and threatening incident i s immediateLy followed by the conversation in English between Cummings and the American F.I.A.X. driver. The humour of this situation inheres i n the "tin-derby's" i n a b i l i t y to understand English. The re- laxed, at times jocular, tone underlies Cummings' meal at Noyon, his introduction to the marraine, and his i n - terview with M. le Ministre. The atmosphere in a l l three of these scenes i s more relaxed than i t i s in the earlier revolver scene. We are well aware though that the atmosphere of the interview with M. le Ministre would not be so relaxed were the Frenchman not so of- ficious and sober and were Cummings himself not so non- chalant. Here as throughout the novel the disinterested pose of the narrator creates humour through i t s con- trast with the serious attitudes of the o f f i c i a l s and the gravity of the situations. The interview with M» le Ministre i n Chapter I prepares us for the inter- views with "the rooster" in Chapter III, M. le Gestion- naire in Chapter 17/, a n d M» l e Directeur in Chapter XIII. 66 The humour inherent in the second interview with the "rooster" consists of describing the o f f i c i a l i n animal- like terms and having him mispronounce Oummings's name© In the third interview the humour inheres in the i n - congruity between the o f f i c i a l whom Oummings anticipates on the basis of the planton 1s behaviour and the actual o f f i c i a l revealed i n the course of the interview. The most striking feature of the f i n a l interview and the one responsible for the humour i s the Directeur 1s ina b i l i t y to cope with Oummings' evasiveness by hurling insults and accusations and by shouting. It i s noteworthy that each of the interviews i s preceded and followed by scenes markedly different in tone from the interviews themselves. The interview with "the rooster" in Chapter III, for example, is preceded by the mystical passages dealing with the wooden man and the City of Pretend; i t i s followed by his confine- ment to the Enormous Room. In Chapter IV, descriptions of the occupants of the Enormous Room precede, the inter- view and Oummings' closer acquaintance: with them follows i t . The f i n a l interview is immediately preceded and fol- lowed by two scenes of calm:: Oummings' union with the landscape and his farewell to the remaining prisoners. The arrangement of these interviews illustrates Oummings use of contrast to balance the tone of The Enormous Room 67 Another such arrangement occurs in Chapter III when Cummings views two children playing near his p r i - son window at Gre: As I lay on my back luxuriously I saw through the bars of my twice padlocked door a boy and a g i r l a- bout then years old. I saw them climb on the wall and play together, obliviously and exquisitely, in the darkening a i r . I watched them for many minutes; t i l l the last moment of light failed; 1 t i l l they and the wall i t s e l f dissolved i n a common mystery, leaving only the bored s i l - houette of the soldier moving imper- ceptibly and wearily against a s t i l l more gloomy piece of autumn sky (pp. 37-38).. Contrast is used in this passage to emphasize Cummings' confinement and isolation. While the children romp freely on the wall outside Cummings watches them from behind a doubly-padlocked doox. rAs the light fades so do both the children and the wall, revealing a direct visual Connection between soldier and prisoner. Ac- companying the disappearance of the children are the changes in landscape and mood. Exuberance i s replaced by boredom; child by soldier; youth by age. Shatter- ing the silence and lethargy of the latter part of this scene is Cummings' clamour for water: "Quelque chose )i boire, s ' i l vous p l a i t i " (p. 38). The silence in Cum- mings' c e l l at Gre contrasts vividly with the later up- roars in the Enormous Room:: the pandemonium resulting 6 6 from The Fighting Sheeney's would-be boxing match, B i l l the Hollander's attack on The Young Pole, and Jean's fight with Sheeney. A third example from The Enormous Room wi l l con- clude my illustrations of this aspect of style. The bal- ance of the entire novel i s displayed in the continual movement from confinement to freedom. Until the arrival -s of Oummings and the gendarmes in Paris, the action focus- es on the prison c e l l s . The f i r s t c e l l at Noyon i s "a room, about sixteen feet short and four feet narrow* with a heap of straw in the further end" (p© 22), From there he journeys with a l l his trappings to the p r i - son at Gre: " A l l around, two-story wooden barracks. L i t t l e crude staircases led up to doors heavily chained and immensely padlocked" (p. 35)<• During a brief rest at Gre Oummings is rudely awakened by six men who hover over him in circular formation. On the train to Paris he is accompanied by two gendarmes, one guarding either side of the compartment door. Even when both the gen- darmes have fallen asleep at their posts, one of them maintains his hold on the door, lest their prisoner escape. Dirty and weary, the three f i n a l l y arrive in Paris: A great shout came up from every insane drowsy brain that had travel-led with us - a fierce and beautiful 69 cry, which went the length of the train • ••• Paris where one forgets, Paris which i s Pleasure, Paris in whom our souls l i v e , Paris the beautiful, Paris enfin" (p. 42), After the brief respite in Paris, Cummings i s taken to Mace, Again he i s confined to prison and again he finds reason to comment on the size of the padlocks. Entering the prison c e l l i n the dark, the narrator i s unable to determine either the size or the content of the room. Shortly, however, hitherto empty and minute room be- came suddenly enormous: weird cries, oaths, laughter, pulling i t sideways and backward, extending i t to incon- ceivable depth and width, telescoping i t to frightful nearness. Prom a l l directions, by at least thirty voices in eleven languages (I counted as I lay Dutch, Belgian, Spanish, Turkish, Arabian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, German, French - and English) at dis- tances varying from seventy feet to a few inches, for twenty minutes I was ferociously bombarded (p, 60). Although Cummings comes to appreciate the dimensions of inner space in this Enormous Room, he also becomes a- ware of a further confinement and isolation associated with disobeying the laws of the Room in particular and La Ferte in general, Cabinot. the label given to the punishment for disobedience, consists of confinement i n a dar*<, damp stone closet-sized building. During his three-and-one-half-month residence in the Enormous 70 Room Oummings hears rumours of those who have suffered confinement and he actually witnesses Lena's sixteen-day cabinot. Oummings' technique of expression during the period of his confinement in the Enormous Room is particularly well suited to his exploration of inner space and his ac- ceptance of external limitations of the Room. He sums up his technique in a statement made in Chapter ¥: ... I do not purpose to i n f l i c t upon the reader a diary of my alternative , aliveness and non-existence at La Ferte - not because such a diary would unut- terably bore him, but because the diary or time method is a technique which can- not possibly do justice to timelessness. I shall (on the contrary) l i f t from their grey box at random certain (to me) more or less astonishing toys; which may or may not. please the reader, but whose colours and shapes and textures, are a part of that actual Present-without future and past - whereof they alone are cognizant who, so to speak, have sub- mitted to an amputation of the world (p.- 114). Such is Oummings' technique:- he allows the eye to wan- der u n t i l an object of interest demands i t s attention. He then circles the object, describes i t and redescribes i t ; some few times he penetrates i t . And so on to the next object, producing the effect of a collage whose framework i s supplied by the Enormous Room i t s e l f 71 Cummings1 technique.is akin to Jean-Luc Godard's single viewpoint scenes i n which the camera makes the movie as in his latest film, Sympathy for the Devil. The technique in The Enormous Room also hears comparison with James Reaney's technique in his 1967 drama, Colours i n the Dark. In the original production notes to that drama Reaney states: Colours i n the Dark might best be called a play box. Why? I happen to have a play box and i t ' s f i l l e d with not only toys and school Irelics, but also deedboxes, ancestral coffin plates, in short a whole l i f e . When you sort through the play box you eventually see your whole l i f e - as well as a l l of l i f e - things like Sunday School albums which show Elijah being fed by ravens, St. Stephen being stoned. The theatrical ex- perience i n front of you now is designed to give you that mosaic -all-things-happening-at the-same-time-galaxy-higgledy-piggledy f e e l - ing that rummaging through a play box can give you ... For example, you can just s i t back and watch the sequence of - colours i n the play: from a white section, to red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple sections, f i n a l l y to black and then out to white again. Watch the colours and images the way you'd watch the peacock's feather. Myriads of characters and situations bubble up. A play box should contain lots of plays - and this one has a new play before you every two minutes, 63james Reaney, Colours i n the Dark (Vancouver: Talonplays, 1969), p. V5\ • C t f e - Heinrich Boll, Absent Without Leave, trans. Leila Vennewitz (Hew York:; McGraw- H i l l Book Company, 1965), p. 11 * "I wish to present this work, not only as far as I am concerned but- also in regard to a l l other persons appearing i n i t , less as a completed record than as one of those coloring books with which we are familiar from our happy-childhood days ..." 72 Although Reaney's statements are strongly reminiscent of Oummings1 in Chapter V of The Enormous Room, they differ in at least one important respect, Oummings' characters are chosen from the play box of the "actual Present"(The Enormous Room, p. 114),. Reaney, on the other hand, chooses to reach back into the past and examine the toys which he finds there. In so doing, the playwright comes to understand not only the past but the patterns of l i f e revealed in the present. Furthermore, where Reaney1s "characters and situations bubble up," Oummings' not only "bubble up" but also seek a delicate balance on the stage of the Enormous Room. When Oummings f i n a l l y bids farewell to his f e l - low prisoners, he displays signs of disorientation and emotional i n s t a b i l i t y . He has been born again and i s suffering the accompanying agony. En route to Paris that agony is manifest in the reconstruction of the world fragment by fragment: A wee, tiny, absurd whistle com- ing from nowhere, from outside of me. Two men opposite. Jolt. A few houses, a fence, a wall, a bit of neige float foolishly by and through § window (p. 237), The reconstruction continues even after Oummings' ar- r i v a l i n Paris, Thoughts are s t i l l fragmentary; ex- pression i s limited to simple diction, often monosyl- : 73 labic words, and the sentence structure remains; simple. It is only after Oummings arrives in America that his thoughts become more cohesive, his expression more com- plex. The f i n a l paragraph of The Enormous Room is a celebration of l i f e , a yeah-saying of the most ultimate kind: The t a l l , impossibly t a l l , incomparably t a l l , city shouldering upward into hard sunlight leaned a l i t t l e through the octaves of i t s parallel edges, leaning- ly strode upward into firm, hard, snowy sunlight; the noises of America near- ingly throbbed with smokes and hurry- ing dots which are men and which are women and which are things new and cur- ious and hard and strange and vibrant and immense, l i f t i n g with a great on- dulous stride firmly into immortal sun- light .... (pp. 3 3 1 - 3 2 ) . And this f i n a l vision not only offsets the absurdities and horrors of the Enormous Room, but i t also dramatizes the narrator's return to emotional s t a b i l i t y . II* The Emotional Balance in the Narrator: Anguish and Delight "After a l l , men in La Mlsere as well as anywhere else rightly demand a certain amount of amusement; amusement i s , i n - deed, peculiarly essential to suffering; in proportion as we are able to be^a- mused we are able to suffer ... " Within the circle of l i f e r i n the Enormous Room there i s an Infinitely varied world of emotions which are continually being created, destroyed, or modified by the narrator's relation with what he notices around him. The "tin-derby's" unexpected threat in the "re- volver scene,," for example, is sufficient to temporarily alter Cummings1 high s p i r i t s . Count Bragard's glowing image is modified by the opinions held by the various occupants of the Enormous Ro©m, particularly "B5" who mistrusts him.. And the favourable image of Pete the Hollander i s also modified by his taunting of Demestre's wife. The narrator's mind constantly grapples with the collisions and contradictions which he observes around him. These collisions and contradictions delight him because their relation subtly undermines the well-or dered hierarchy at La Perte. The Enormous Room, p. 262. 75 Although Oummings lives through his imagination, his l i f e is solidly anchored in the routine of the camp Imagination and routine are intermingled by the narrat- or i n an extraordinary set of portraits, which he des- cribes in chapters five through eleven. And these por- traits become richer and more extraordinary as a re- sult of the reminiscent mode of the novel. The narrator recalls the world of La Ferte Mace much as the prisoner must have experienced i t , through the medium of two emotional states, which are inter- posed between the world and himself, isolating certain events and moments of his l i f e . When these emotions become sufficiently intense, Oummings establishes new relationships with the world around him. The f i r s t of these emotions i s anguish. This an- guish is born of the inhumane treatment i n the prisons the smell and the food - and at the end the loneliness following " B " 1 " transfer to Precigne. In an attempt to cope with i t , Oummings adopts the pose of the tough guy S.I. Hayakawa in an early article and Roy Harvey Pearce i n The Continuity of American Poetry have both commented on Oummings1 tough-guy stance in the poetry. Although Professor Hayakawa's statement that Oummings explores "with unfeeling but l i v e l y curiosity a nether 76 world peopled by hideous automatons" i s directed to- ward Cummings' poetry, the statement might well be re- directed toward The Enormous Room Itself. Later in the same article Hayakawa points out that Cummings does re- turn to his former childlike vision but proceeds "with elaborate precautions lest he be caught acting like a softie." 6 6 Balancing the anguish underlying the "tough guy" pose in the novel i s the narrator's delight in the De- lectable Mountains, which sometimes culminates in moments of ecstasy. This delight is always accompanied by a particular intense sensation which occurs in the presence of either the spontaneous actions of one of these Mount- ains or else a quite natural phenomena: the sight of Paris, the snow seen through the bars at La Ferte, New York on the rearrival i n America, and on the other hand, Demestre and the Imp livin g together in the Room and Jean's name games. The delight which Cummings experiences causes him to make some exclamation or gesture himself. In the Zulu, Cummings finds an outlet for his own de- light . The figure makes such an Impression upon his mind that i t seems to c a l l out to him a message of delight, 65s.I. Hayakawa, "Is Indeed 5," Poetry. LKLII (1938), p. 286. 6 6 I b i d . , p. 289. 77 words surge up within him in response and he writes down a description of the Zulu so that their image i s trans- lated into a conscious literary expression: There are certain things in which one is unable to believe for the simple rea- son that he never ceases to feel them. Things of this sort - things which are always inside of us and in fact are us and which consequently w i l l not be push- ed off or away where we can begin think- ing about them - are no longer things; they, and the us which they are, equals A Verb; an IS (P. 2 3 1 ) . By this act the narrator creates a new relationship with his own emotions and their cause; he also cre- ates a new combination of words. The creation of these word combinations springs directly from his own sensibilities; i t i s an inner submission to an outer stimulation. Furthermore, i t i s accomplished by both anguish and delight and i t l i e s on the road to accomplishment, Oummings has not only experienced an emotion but he has also expressed i t . This process had previously occurred when the narrator had returned to Paris as a prisoner on his way to La Ferte Mace: ....Paris where one forgets, Paris which i s Pleasure, Paris in whom our souls l i v e , Paris the beautiful, Paris enfin (p. 42). The description continues: 78 I am in a new world - a world of chic femininity. My eyes devour the inimit- able details of costume, the inexpres- sible nuances of pose, the indescrib- able demarche of the midinette. They hold themselves differently. They have even a l i t t l e bold colour here and there on skirt or blouse or hat. They are not talking about l a guerre. Incredible. They appear very beautiful, these Parisiennes (p. 44). Cummings recognizes the very substance of Paris and realizes what makes Paris what i t i s , his own sheer joy i n being alive. Beyond the disillusionment of Noyon, the narrator has returned to his European starting-point and this return is defined as a joyous contact with reality. But Cummings has to conscious- l y recreate the magic in the light of reality. The vision of Paris proves that beyond the fluctuations of emotion and the maltreatment of both body and mind, there i s a level on which human existence is delight, a harmony established between the individual and his world. Beauty i s born of this harmony; i t i s neither in the individual, who is variable, nor In the objects them- selves, but i t comes when they are mutually present. In this harmony the world of Paris and certainly the 79 world of the Enormous Room later on flourishes. Without this harmony the world cannot be set within the closed sphere of art. The process of allowing expression to shape ex- perience occurs again in a notable passage at the con- clusion of the novel: The t a l l , impossibly t a l l , incomp- arably t a l l , .city .shouldering upward into hard sunlight leaned a . l i t t l e through the octaves of i t s parallel edges, leaningly strode upward into firm, hard,snowy sunlight; the noi- ses of America nearingly throbbed with smokes and hurrying dots which are men and which are women and which are things new and curious and hard and strange and vibrant and immense, l i f t i n g with a great ondulous stride firmly into immortal sunlight.... (PP. 3 3 1 - 3 2 ) . Here New York rises before Oummings1 eyes in an aura of poetry, moving in a miraculously clear light, alive with noises. The city comes to l i f e again in this way because, recalled by sensation, i t i s restored as a whole, with a l l the emotions which were once attached to i t . And the emotion that dominates a l l the others i s that of awe before the world as i t i s apprehended directly by a l l the senses. This wonder creates the inner ijioy that is inseparable from a sense of newness and mystery. New York thus recalled - i t s sights, 80 i t s sounds and i t s movement i s an embodiment of Cum- mings ' state of mind. The narrator in The Enormous Room, not unlike a child, is deeply impressed by the mystery implicit in the existence of people and things. His world, creat- ed largely by the powers of the imagination, i s merely his way of expressing that mystery. His "imaginary" world is an expression of the strong tie that binds him to l i f e i t s e l f , of the consciousness of a mystery so close to him that i t springs from the light and noise around him. In his ecstatic moments he feels himself not only a part of this movement and unity but also a part of the timeless world. ^ On the one hand^the narrator's delight extends time and space indefinitely, and comprises i n a l l i t s diversity the myriad varied mural of daily l i f e i n the Enormous Room; on the other hand, thq4.nguish in the novel condenses, unifies, and defines i t s own period of time; i t merges a series of days into one, organizing the events remembered as they might be organized in a play. ®Tk comprehensive treatment of time may be found in Kingsley Widmer's "Timeless Prose r" TGL, IV (1958), pp. 3-8. THE FUSION OF SUBJECT. AND OBJECT IN THE ENORMOUS ROOM nothing startles me beyond the Moment. The setting Sun wi l l always set me to rights - or i f a Sparrow come before my Window I take part in i t s existence and pick about the Gravel." 68 "You are so young, so before a l l beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear s i r , to be patient toward a l l that i s unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point i s , to livg geverything. Live the questions now." " "Mystery i s within us and around us. Of reality we can only get now and then the merest glimpse. Our senses are too gross. Between the invisible world and our own there i s doubtless an intimate concordance; but i t escapes us." 1o Central to Oummings1 art in both this novel and the poetry is the complex "mysterious" relationship be- tween the self and the external world. This relation- ship gives rise to two fundamental questions: how can John Keats i n a letter of November 22, 1817 reprint ed in English Romantic Poetry and Prose, ed. Russell Noye (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1956), p. 1211. 6 9 R a i n e r Maria Rilke, Letters To A Young Poet, trans. M.D. Herter Norton ((New YorZl W.-W* Norton & TJompany Inc. 1962), pp. 3^-35. 82 an external and material object be transmuted into the interior and immaterial self and how can this transmu- tation be expressed in words. To begin with, l e t us cite several examples of these transmutations as they occur in the novel. First, there is Cummings1 light-hearted treatment of the prison diet at Noyon: "I contemplate the bowl, which contemplates me. A glaze of greenish grease seals the mystery of i t s contents" (P. 26). S t i l l in the same prison Cummings again makes the connection between his interior and ex- terior environment: "I pass a l o t of time cursing my- self about the pencil, looking at my walls, my unique i n - terior" (p. 27). Finally, on the road to Mace, Cummings is confronted by the wooden man hanging in a grove of trees by the roadside: For perhaps a minute the almost obliter- ated face and mine eyed one another i n the silence of intolerable autumn. Who was this wooden man? Like a sharp, black, mechanical cry in the spongy organ- ism of gloom stood the coarse and sudden sculpture of his torment; the big mouth of night carefully spurted the angular ac- tual language of his martyred body. I had seen him before in the dream of some med- iaeval saint with a thief sagging at either side, surrounded with crisp angels. 70 . Maurice Maeterlinck, Introduction to Maeterlinck's Essays (New York: R.F. Fenno & Company,, n.d.;,. pp. v i i i -i x . To-night he was alone; save for myself, and the moon's minute flower pushing between slabs of fractured cloud (pp. 5 3 - 4 ) . These three examples ill u s t r a t e two points: the concordance between external world and interior self and the d i f f i c u l t y of expressing this concordance. The bowl of soup, the prison walls at Noyon, the wooden man y en route to Mace - a l l three objects are outside, a l l exist as things. And yet as the a r t i s t looks at these objects he seems to feel himself joined to them by a sensation transmitted through an "aether", not alto- gether unlike the universal aether whose existence was posited to explain the transmission of light pre- vious to the quantum theory. Despite this concordance, however, the sensation testifies more to the separate- ness of the object in i t s existence as object than i t does to the object as reality. Oummings1 awareness of this d i f f i c u l t y may help to explain his linguistic man- oeuverings to express a process which is essentially in- expressible. But because Oummings does attempt to express the process, he is confronted with the problem of how to pen- etrate the object or how to draw i t into the self when the only a f f i n i t y which the self seems to have with the ob- ject is a sensation. And yet that sensation i s sufficient to prompt the self to either project into the object or to incorporate the object into the self. June E. Downey in her empirical study of the cre- ative imagination i s also concerned with the "empathy" between subject and object: Prom one point of view we subjectify the object; from another point of view we objectify the self. We as- sume attitudes and emotions in obed- ience to demands of the outer world, then r e f i t the world with these pat- terns which have become intensified through intimate realization of their meaning. '' Miss Downey here touches upon some of Cummings1 prim- ary concerns:- the projection of a mood into the external environment and the rereading of that mood back into the self. She has also made explicit what Cummings has con- tinually implied in his art, the fact that every per- ception is an interpretation and furthermore,, a re-inter- pretation. Miss Downey goes on to discuss the relationship between self and art in terms of Muller-Preienfel' s three types of responses: those of the Esctatic, the Participator, and the Spectator. The Ecstatic, she ex- plains as the fusion of subject and object in a perfect ''June Downey, "A Pew Words on Empathy." The Creative Imagination (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd., 1929), PP. 176-77. 8 5 unity. In this connection she cites the ecstatic ex- periences of George E l i o t : There are hours when I go out from my- self and live i n a plant, when I feel myself as the grass, as bird, as tree- top, cloud - hours when I run, f l y , swim, when I unfold myself in the sun, when I sleep under leaves, when I float with the larks or creep with the l i z - ards, when I shine in the stars and f i r e - f l i e s , when, in short, I live in every object which affords an extension of my existence. ' 2 While Oummings does at times aspire to this state, more often than not he extends himself to human subjects 73 rather than animate objects. Oummings" response to the external world more closely approximates that of the Participator. This response involves the complete im- mersion in a role or a series of roles, for Oummings these roles vary from the tough guy to the advocate of ideal love. It is also worth recalling the roles played by Count Bragard, the Wanderer, and particularly Jean le Negre, who serves as an excellent example of the Participator's response. ^Quoted in Downey, p. 1 8 0 . ^ F o r this latter response see Keats' letter of Nov- ember 2 2 , 1 8 1 7 as quoted in Russell Noyes, p. 1 2 1 1 . y 86 Some few times Cummings or his narrator find them- ii selves in Muller-Freienfel's third category, that of the Spectator. The foremost example here would be the nar- rator in "anyone lived i n a pretty how town," who retains his personality while remaining detached from the action 74 of the poem. But l e t us return to Muller-Preienfel's f i r s t cat- egory and Cummings' unity with the outside world. The novelist's penetration of the object (and here object is defined as something or somebody other than the self) and the resulting transformation is effected in one of two ways. Either a conscious effort i s made within the self to imitate the appearance or movement of the object as is the case in the poetry: "my own, my beautiful/ my blossoming)" i s the narrator's invocation to his lady; the poet's father is described as "singing each 76 morning out of each night." Or else an equivalent of the object is discovered or created within the self as is the case when the planting, growing, and withering away of a tree is likened to human birth, growth, and death. Discovering the likeness between an object and- the self i s an important idea in "The Secrets of the Zoo Ex- 7 4 C f . "Voice" in Norman Friedman's The Art of E.E.. Cummings.. pp. 7 - 3 5 . 75"now a l l the fingers of this tree (darling) have" in Xaipe. 76"my father moved through dooms of love" in 5J3 Poems. 87 posed." In a semi-humorous vein, Oummings writes i n that piece: These two aspects, "human" and "animal," interact; with the result that the zoo, in comprising a mechanism for the exhib- it i o n of beasts, birds and reptiles, be- comes a compound instrument for the invest- igation of mysterious humanity. But what, precisely, do we mean by "in- teract"? We mean that the zoo's permanent inhabitants, the so-called animals, are kinds of "aliveness" which we ourselves, the temporary inhabitants of the zoo, ex- perience. To speak of "seeing the animals" i s to treat this phenomenon with a shame- f u l flippancy, with a clumsiness perfectly disgusting. Actually, such "creatures" as we see" create in us a variety of emotions, ranging a l l the way from terror and pity to happiness and despair. Why? Not be- cause the giraffe i s effete, or because the elephant is enormous, but because we ourselves appear ridiculous and terrible in these amazing mirrors. 77 It i s important to point out that the twofold re- lationship between subject and object in Oummings' work i s not static but changing and interchanging, that i s , either the external object is imitated within the self or else peculiarly human qualities may lie, projected into the external world. This latter relationship i s the bas- i s of personification, simile, and metaphor, and these f i g - ures of speech abound i n The Enormous Room. A notable combination of simile and personification occurs during the narrator's confinement at Noyon: "...the moon was like a mademoiselle, and I did not want to offend the 77 A Miscellany Revised, p-. 175. 88 moon. My friends: the silhouette and l a lune, not counting jCa Pue. whom I regarded almost as a part of me" (p. 28). When human qualities are projected into the ex- ternal object we witness personification: the moon "bat- tl i n g with clouds " (p. 53) as seen en route to Mace, the "drooling greenish walls" (p e 157) of La Perte Mace, the "great ponderous murdering clouds" (p. 170) of smoke emerging from the blazing cablnot. and the quivering creases of the Washing-Machine Man's trousers (p. 214) And what is more, once human qualities are projected into the external object, that object i s in turn made to react upon the self: again en route to Mace the sunlight "smacks" the prisoner's eye and cuffs his "sleepy mind with colour" (p. 49)• Shortly afterward in the same chapter the pinard reacts causing the prisoner to feel his "mind cuddled by a pleasant warmth" (p. 49)• Related to these figures of speech is the device of synaesthesia, which inheres in the transfer of sen- sations. This device, often used by Cummings in both the poetry and prose may well have been suggested by Rilke, although, as June Downey points out in her 1929 work, the device was in common literary use. Among i t s noted users were Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Blake, Keats , at-.;. 89 and Shelley.' 0 Rilke, however, seems the most l i k e l y to have open- ed up this area for Oummings1 exploration. We know, for example, that Oummings had been reading Rilke as early as 1918 and that Rilke's essay on "Primal Sound" appear- ed in 1919, at least one year after Oummings had been in - troduced to the works of the German poet. In that essay Rilke states that the ar t i s t should endeavour to appre- hend every object not only through the sense of sight but through a l l five of the senses.. Expressing an interest in Arabic poems, which, he maintains depend on an equal contribution from a l l the senses,. Rilke states: utors singly and in very varying de- gree, only one of them - sight over- laden with the seen world - seeming to dominate him constantly; how slight, by contrast, i s the contribution he receives from inattentive hearing, not to speak of the indifference of the other senses, which are active only on the periphery of conscious- ness and with many interruptions within the limited spheres of their practical activity.. 0 0 'Acquainted with the work of Miss Downey, Glenn 0' Malley published a book in 1964 examining in detail Shel- ley's use of synaesthesia entitled Shelley and Synaes- . . . i t struck me for the f i r s t time, that the modern European poet (and the Selected Works. I, 54. 90 In The Enormous Room alone examples of Oummings11 use of synaesthesia abound. Awaiting the train for Par- is in Chapter III.. Oummings sits near some Algerians:. "Their enormous faces, wads of v i t a l darkness, swooped with fatigue. Their vast gentle hands, lay noisily about their knees" (p. 41). Upon entering Paris later in the same chapter, his "eyes devour" (p. 44) the colourful world and he acknowledges the "crisp persons" (p. 44) around him. As le Nouveau on his way to the bath at La Perte, he notices one of the women's "crisp,vital headQsj' (p. 76) watching him. Again in Chapter VIII we find Mme. Demestre dressed in "crashing hues" (p. 2.19). Oummings' frequent use of synaesthesia is a demon- stration of his attempts to rework language to express i l - luminating and often mystical experiences.. Oummings him- self though, is among the f i r s t to admit the impossibility of succeeding at such an endeavour... In an attempt to de- scribe Zulu Oummings voices his frustration: He i s , of a l l the inde'scribables whom I have known, definitely the most completely or entirely Indescribable. Then (quoth my reader) you wi l l not attempt to describe him, I trust. - Alas, in the medium which I am now using a certain amount or at least quality of description i s disgustingly nec-essary. Were I free with a canvas and some colours ... but I am not free. And so I w i l l buck the impossible to the best of my ab i l i t y . Which, after a l l . is one way of wasting your time (p. 2317.. 91 The essence of the "description," well-known and often quoted by Cummings1 c r i t i c s , follows: There are certain things in which one is unable to believe for the simple reason that he never ceases to feel them. Things of this sort - things which are always inside of us and in fact are us and which consequently w i l l not be pushed off or away where we can begin thinking about them - are no longer things; they, and the us which they are, equals A Verbf; an IS (p. 231)9. In the case of Zulu i t is Cummings1 intention and desire to dissolve the boundaries between self and other / as foreshadowed in the trek to Mace when the bird f a i r - l y swooped into the prisoner !s face (p. 53)© The at- tempt to dissolve these boundaries is repeated in Chapter XI when Cummings, in language resembling incantation, yearns for a self-transcendence and a union with Jean le Negre: -Boy, Kid, Nigger with the strutting muscles - take me up into your mind once or twice before I die (you know why: just because the eyes of me and you w i l l be f u l l of dirt some day). Quickly take me up into the bright child of your mind, before we both go suddenly a l l loose and s i l l y (you know how i t w i l l feel).. Take me up (carefully; as i f I were a toy) and play carefully with me, once or twice, before I and you go suddenly a l l limp and foolish. Once or twice before you ?o into great Jack roses and ivory -once er-twice Boy, before we together go wonderfully down into the Big Dirt laughing, bumped with the last darkness) (p. 293). In his relationships with Jean and Zulu, Cummings comes closest to realizing the unity about which he writes. Not only is he able to project himself into these people, he is also able to simultaneously incorporate them into his self. And i t is during this two-way process that the ar t i s t is most aware of himself and paradoxically nearest to self-transcendence. 5 THE UNIFIED VISION IN THE ENORMOUS ROOM I, The Artist's Vision in Terms of Form and Content "As for the Story Of The Great War Seen From The Windows Of Nowhere, please don't expect a speedy conclusion or rather completion^ of this narrative (The Enormous Room]; for this reason: that in consenting ( i t almost amounted to that) to "do the thing up" I did not forego my prerogative as artist, to wit - the making of every paragraph a thing which seemed good to me, in the same way that a "crazy-quilt" is made so that every inch of i t seems good to me. And so that i f you put your hand over one inch, the other inches lose in force. And so that in every inch there i s a binding rhythm which inte- grates the whole thing and makes i t a single moving T h i n g l n l t s e l f - N o t that I am held up in my story, but simply that progress i s slow. I am sure the result w i l l say (eventually that is) that no other method was possible or to be considered. It i s not a question of cold facts per se - that i s merely a fabric: to put this fabric at the mercy of An Everlasting Rhythm is somethingelse." E.E. Oummings maintains as the one essential con- dition of any work of art that the a r t i s t must keep alive within himself a sense of the mystery implicit in a l l 0 1E.E. Oummings in a letter to his mother of November 25, 1919 reprinted in Selected Letters of E.E. Oummings. ed. F.W. Dupee and George Stade (New York:"" Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.,. 1969), PP. 63-64. 94 l i f e . The creative a r t i s t is by definition the man who has not allowed anything to intrude between himself and l i f e . The artist simply observes and translates. And the authenticity of this translation i s guaranteed only by the sincerity with which the art i s t has entered into contact with l i f e and has f e l t i t s mystery. An artist grasps not only the particular aspects of a landscape, an emotion, or a human being, but also perceives in them something more universal than most others see. The cre- ative process, as far as this a r t i s t i s concerned, ex- plains nothing. A work of art derives i t s value from the fact that i t persistently suggests the existence of a mysterious presence behind everything we perceive. This is especial- ly true of The Enormous Room, where a mysterious presence l i e s behind each person. Cummings does not explain the nature of the mysterious presence behind them, for the very explanation, i f such an explanation were possible, would destroy i t . The form as well as the content of a work of art points to the mysterious presence. For Cummings as for Walt Whitman before him the form of a work of art sug- gests that there exists a harmony between the l i f e of the individual man and that of a l l men. Unlike Whitman though, Cummings does, not go beyond this suggestion. 96 Like Whitman, however, a l y r i c vision pervades his work, orientates i t , and unifies i t . This l y r i c a l aura, closely related to the mysterious presence, distinguishes The Enormous Room from the r e a l i s t i c novels as well as from the works of psychological analysis being written at the time. Pew details in Cummings1 novel do not derive sig- nificance from their relationship to another aspect of the whole work. However precious Cummings' descriptions may appear to the reader, they are never gratuitous, nev- er included merely for decorative effect. Nor are they composed to create an appearance of reality. The view from the c e l l window at the beginning of Chapter III bears i n i t s wake the cycles of days and seasons, the Parisienne women's cojrfstumes and their posture, the var- ious languages and individual idioms which the narrator notes on his way to Mace and particularly those found in the Enormous Room itself.. The languages, the views from prison windows, the women - take as long a journey through the novel as does the prisoner himself. What do the lang- uages foreshadow i f not the f i n a l realization of the i n - adequacy of words to express deep and complex relation- ships? And who i s Cummings i f not a prisoner of words? Finally, what surrounds him but objects to prompt his ex pression: the view from the prison window, the women of 97 Paris, and later vthe women of La Ferte? A multitude of these examples can "be cited. But no?, study of Cummings' style can rise above the level of mere examination of details unless i t is related to the vision which organizes the whole novel. For Cummings the writer as well as for Cummings the painter, style is a question both of technique and of vision. His own v i s - ion is characterized by an a b i l i t y to unite the external and the internal world. It is no wonder, then, that in Cummings' novel i t i s often impossible to isolate the set- ting and characters; they are a l l interrelated, a l l mer- ged. However, a style of this sort does not necessarily make a novel, and there are moments when the interrelat- ions between characters and environment makes the reader lose the general outline of the work from which the con- nections originate. But when the relationships are lim- ited, for example, the equation between Section Sanitaire Vingt-et-tlh and the Slough of Despond, between the Del- ectable Mountains of The Pilgrim's Progress and the group of characters i n the Enormous Room - then the novel, as Cummings had planned, tends toward allegory.. But the work is primarily a novel, despite those c r i t i c s who maintain that the term "novel" in the 1932 - Introduction was simply a convenient generic term and not 98 y necessarily an expression of the author's original inten- tion. The narrator's work becomes possible only when he grasps the irony and the comedy of his experience. He recognizes that both are essential to the expression of his imprisonments; from this point of view he starts to work. His own l i f e , and that of those around him, appear to him in the form of a story which unfolds in the timeless world of the Enormous Room. The essential characteristic of the novel i s that i t t e l l s the story of one or several lives unfolding in time, but the nar- rator i s not only a novelist but also a poet, a painter, and a cameraman, dimmings' work meets the requirements for a novel because i t unfolds in time; the narrator him- self becomes a novelist because he wishes to reveal the mystery which li e s behind human experience. The narrator's d i f f i c u l t i e s are twofold: arising not only from his desire to find the meaning in his ex- periences but also in the desire to translate these ex- periences into a work of art. The two desires are f i n - a l l y integrally related for the experiences w i l l impose their own form upon the work and determine i t s content. Oummings te l l s the story df his search through art and not through l i f e . The search ends only with the realization of the enigmatic quality of experience and of an appre- ciation of the value of the search i t s e l f . The discov- eries themselves are not remarkable any more than are the • 99 author's observations on human beings or prison psychology, the latter being common knowledge. Much more interesting is Oummings' construction of his novel in relation to these observations and the link with the larger allegorical framework. In this respect i t i s not Oummings1 thought that i s extraordinary, but the i n - sights that i t allows into his novel. II.. The Artist"s Unified Vision in Terms of Character and Situation " i t is a l l I can do to gouch my thoughts in this airy medium.' "With nothing can one approach a work of art so l i t t l e as with c r i t i c a l words: they always come down to more or less happy misunderstandings. Things are not a l l so comprehensible and expres- sible as one would mostly have us be- lieve: most events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has entered, and more inexpressible than a l l else are. works of art, my- sterious existences, the l i f e of which, while ours passes away, endures." 83 "Our present dilemma i s as old as the hu- man race; i t has presided over every step of man's progress. Society is con- stantly evolving, and men have always had to struggle to understand current realities by means of a language that is outdated. We are prisoners of language and of the frozen metaphors i t sweeps along in i t s wake. It is inadequate language that gradually becomes con- tradig^ory; the realities never become 82«'0f practice," Book II, The Complete Works of Mon- taigne, p. 274. 83Letters To A Young Poet, p. 17. 8 4Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "Peace or War," A Sense of Life (New York: Punk & Wagnalls Company, Inc., 1965), p. 130. 101 The stature and the mystery of Oummings1' charact- ers derive largely from the manner in which he presents them and f i l l s them out in the course of the novel. Re- called from the narrator's memory of the Room at La Ferte Mace', most of the characters appear f i r s t of a l l as frag- ments. Then they advance into f u l l view, like Count de Bragard as his disguise is gradually revealed. Sometimes the characters are only sketched, sometimes minutely de- scribed, like Jean le Hegre and the Wanderer.. And each sketch or description has a certain meaning within the •framework of the novel. So great i s the force with which Oummings emphasizes his descriptions that he sometimes seems over^insistent to the reader. Zulu personifies the mystery of a l l individuals seen from the outside. Oount de Bragard is frankly the pretender, the master actor. The whole group of characters termed Delectable Mountains elude us just as they elude the narrator who tries to describe them. A l l characters appealing to Oum- mings himself, even i f they are secondary, are introduced to us in this way: ephemeral from the very moment of their appearance, they remain elusive, as does their future. Like the bluebird of Maeterlinck, they "change colour" every time they are on the point of being cap- tured. They appear in their own sections of the novel 102 and the narrator attempts to describe them, casting upon them the spotlight of his personal view. He sees them clearly from the inside so that their actions, their gestures, and their words are a l l f i l t e r e d through him. But while Cummings does see clearly he does not see a l l ; in addition to the spotlighted segments stretch vast areas of shadow. Each character has this dimension of the un- known into which he can escape. When we consider the unknown areas in each char- acter's l i f e in this novel, we realize that Cummings' work here f u l f i l s one of the essential functions of literature. For in these characters he reconstitutes one aspect of human l i f e , the anguish caused by the impenetrability of others and renders i t acceptable, a natural part of the human condition. No character in the Enormous Room i s isolated; each i s bound to other characters who surround him, and who allow him to reflect certain aspects of his personal- i t y . But these groupings of characters are as numerous for each individual as the aspects of his own character, so that no one character i s ever a type. A secondary character like the man in the Orange Cap, for example, takes his place with the Zulu in childish games; he i s one with Cummings in his sincerity; through his i s o l - ation he joins Surplice; through his tendency toward i n - 103 sanity he is one with Bathhouse John.. Most characters are thus doubled, tripled, by a series of secondary men in Orange Caps. Oummings himself reminds us of Count de; Bragard in his a r t i s t i c interest; in temperment, person- a l habits, likes and dislikes he resembles Brown. Each character has inf i n i t e p ossibilities; he remains enig- matic and complex by a l l the ties which link him with other characters. Oummings' vision i s determined here by his conviction that in every individual there exists a gen- uine "aliveness" which is greater than he, but of which he is a unique specimen. The situations in which the characters find them- selves are also reflected and reverberated through the novel, without ever being exactly duplicated: Oummings and Brown together at Ham, Oummings in j a i l at Noyon, at La ferte, Oummings and Brown together i n the Enormous Room; Oummings1 interrogation by M. le Ministre at Noyon, by M. le Gestionnaire at Mace, and by M> le Directeur on leaving La Ferte. In the detail of situations as well as the whole, there are configurations which recall each other, but which are in no case superimposed. The situations in the novel and the individuals i n the Enormous Room project rays from a l l sides similar to the beams of a searchlight; the beams begin as mere 104 s l i t s but broaden to enormous width. Cummings illuminates simultaneously the unique complexity of each human l i f e and situation and the numerous links between individual lives and situations. So that while each of the main characters has his own section in the novel, his i n f l u - ence and his presence are f e l t throughout the other sec- tions. Each Delectable Mountain and the situations in which he finds himself involved contribute toward the making of a more enormous room. In writing The Enormous Room Cummings used almost a l l the themes that had occupied contemporary writers of war novels: an aversion for the military hierarchy, a contempt for patriotic fervor, the decay of personality directly attributable to the inhumanity of war, and the inadequacy of language to deal with the experiences of war. But more important than his a f f i l i a t i o n with con- temporaries is the fact that he developed a new form for the "war" novel. The form of The Enormous Room breaks the linear story development. Cummings no longer assumes, as r e a l i s t i c writers theoretically did, that his a r t i s t i c creation is an imitation of reality. His theory claims for the novel the right to be instead like poetry or painting, and whether he knew i t or not, like photography*. The world of accepted reality in which time and place. 105 are defined, disintegrates and Cummings seems content to present the destruction of commonplace reality with- out feeling the need to erect in the ruins his own real- i s t i c edifice. CONCLUSION We may conclude now by summarizing the findings of our inquiry for some of the question to which this thesis i s directed: The Enormous Room is an autobiographical novel or- ganized around the -Journey in The Pilgrim"s Progress,. The links between the two works, however, do not end with the organization:: both the novel and the allegory are based on prison experiences; both contain autobiographical and didactic elements. Furthermore, both novelist and allegor- i s t use the -journey as an image for the l i f e of the s p i r i t . Neither the path of Christian's journey nor that of Oum- mings' i s the way of the world, Oummings' world i s divided in two: socially, i t i s divided into those who "know" and those who "do not know"; morally, i t is divided into noble and blameworthy feelings; aesthetically, into the beautiful and the ugly. Similarly, Christian's world i s divided i n two:: i n religious terms, i t is divided into those who follow the tenets of Christ- ianity and those who do not; morally, i t i s divided into 107 feelings that are noble and those that are blameworthy; ethically, into virtues and vices; intellectually, into falsehood and truth. The concept of the divided world i s buttressed in both works by confronting the main characters with at least two different paths of action at each sig- nificant point in their journeys. Cummings' decisions at the crossroads though, like Christian's, are made in fav- our of truth, virtue, and noble feelings. While Cummings does carry more than one of his themes by accommodating The Pilgrim's Progress, he ironically i n - verts Bunyan's ideas for the same purpose. Cummings' new world, for example, is not outside time and space as i s Bunyan's, but rather on this earth, projected forward in time. Again, the Puritan cleanliness ethic is inverted, placing cleanliness next to ungodliness in The Enormous Room. Whereas this inversion has given rise to great dis- pute, the individual character studies i n the novel remain indisputably one of the greatest achievements,!:: To a certain extent characterization in The Enormous Room depends upon animal Imagery in The Pilgrim's Progress; but where Bunyan's imagery i s concentrated, Cummings' is diffused; where Bunyan?s animals evoke fear and horror, Cummings' are humorous or merely picturesque. 108 It is in the area of setting that Oummings and Bunyan are perhaps farthest apart. Bunyan's pilgrimage begins in the City of Destruction, the spiritual equiv- alent of hell-on-earth: i t extends across the earth, f i n - a l l y terminating in the Celestial City. Oummings1 journey in The Enormous Room, on the other hand, is s t r i c t l y circumscribed geographically, the focal point being a city one hundred miles west of Paris called Mace. But within the geographical limits Oummings creates a changing setting through minutely precise descriptions of the characters i n the Room at La Ferte. These characters are sometimes reminiscent of the portraits i n the Significant Rooms, i n The Pilgrim's Progress. The comparison and contrast between The Pilgrim"s Progress and The Enormous Room concludes with an exam- ination of the excremental vision in the latter work. Norman 0 . Brown's link between excrement and death i n Life Against Death: A Psychoanalytical Meaning of History i s reapplied to illus t r a t e the f i n a l connection between , Bunyan1s allegory and Oummings' novel. The topic of characterization examined in the f i r s t chapter appears for re-examination in Chapter II. There characterization is related to the humour in the novel and the role of games; both are then linked to the roles 109 assumed by three of the main characters: Count Bragard, Jean le Negre, and Surplice. In the third chapter the humorous situations of the novel, examined i n Chapter II, are shown to be bal- anced by tense episodes: the "revolver scene" i n Chapter I, for example, is followed by the humorous conversation between Cummings and the American E.I.A.I, driver in the presence of the "tin-derby." As the dramatic situations in the novel are balanced so too are the emotions of the narrator, fluctuating between anguish at the inhumane treatment in the prison and delight in the Delectable Mountains and the sight of New York upon his return to America. The f i n a l paragraph of the novel where the reader sees New York through Cum- mings' eyes, is one of the best examples of an ecstatic moment in which the narrator feels himself not only an integral part of the movement of human l i f e but also a part of the timeless world. The sense of mystery and unity discussed in con- junction with the f i n a l paragraph of the novel is ex- panded in Chapter IV, "The Fusion of Subject and Object in The Enormous Room." There the "mysterious" relation- ship between the individual perceiver and the external perceived world i s examined and an attempt i s made to 110 answer two fundamental questions deriving from this re- lationship: how can an external and material object be transmuted into the interior and immaterial self and how can this transmutation be expressed in words. Finally in Chapter V/ the partial visions of the f i r s t four chapters are related to the whole novel: the artist's vision is studied in terms of form and content, character and situation. We return to a genre study, claiming the term "novel" for Oummings1 work and themat- i c a l l y linking i t with the contemporary war novels. In form another claim i s made for this novel - the claim to be like poetry, painting and photography. Henry James has f i t t i n g l y commented on the changing art and his com- ment redirected to The Enormous Room reads: Art lives upon discussion, upon exper- iment, upon curiosity, upon variety of attempt, upon the exchange of views and the comparison of standpoints; and there is a presumption that those times when no one has anything particular to say about i t , and has no reason to give for practice or preference, though they may be times of honour, are not times of development « are times, possibly even, of dulness. 8 5"The Art of Fiction," p. 267. i SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY! Primary Sources: Editions of Cummings' Works Cummings, E.E. A Selection of Poems. Introd. Horace Gregory. Harvest Books. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1965. o Eimi... New York: Grove Press Inc.* 1933. • $0 Poems. The Universal Library. New York: Grosset & Dunlop, 1940. . i : Six Nonlectures. New York:: Atheneum, 196T. 100 Selected Poems. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1959. . Poems: 1923-1954. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1954* a The Enormous Room. The Modern Library. New York: Random House, Inc.,, 1922.. . Three Plays and a B a l l e t e d . & Introd. George J.. Pirmage. New York: "October House Inc., 1967. Pirmage, George J.,. ed. E..E. Cummings: A Miscellany Re- vised. New York: October House Inc.* 1967. Selected Letters of E.E. Cummings. ed. F.W. Dupee and George Stade. Ne*w"York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1969. Secondary Sources: Longer Works of Biography and Criticism Friedman, Norman.. E.E. Cummings: The Art of His Poetry. Baltimore:- The"John Hopkins Press, i 9 6 0 . 112 Marks, Barry A., E.E. Cummings. New York:-. Grosset & Dunlop, 1964. Norman, Charles.. E.E. Cummings: A Biography. * New York: E.P. Dutton &Co7,. 1967. " Tucker, Robert Gi and David R., Clark eds. Freedom. Joy & Indignation:- Letters from E.E. Cummings. "The Massachusetts Review"s Tribute to E.E.. Cummings." The Massachusetts Review (Spring 1963)* pp. 497 - Wegner, Robert E.. The Poetry and Prose of E.E. Cummings. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc7,~"l9o*5. Shorter Works of Criticism Aldridge, John W. "America"s Young Novelists: Uneasy Inheritors of a Revolution." The Saturday Review of Literature (February 12,; 194~9T, 6 - 8, 36-37, 42. Baker, Sheridan. "Cummings and Catullus." MLN:. 74 (March 1959), 231-34. Bishop, John Peale.. "Incorrect English." Vanity Fair. July 1922, p. 20. Blackmur, R.P* "Notes on E.E. Cummings' Language." Form & Value in Modern Poetry. New York:; Doubleday &. Company, Inc., 1952. Burke, Kenneth. "A Decade of American Fiction." The Bookman. LXIX (August 1929), 565-66. Dos Passos, John. "Off The Shoals: The Enormous Room." The Shock of Recognition, ed. Edmund Wilson. New York: Farrar, Straus &. Cudahy, 1955» Dougherty, James Patrick. "E.E. Cummings' The Enormous Room and Its Relation to His Poetry." DA (XXIII), T363. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. "How To Waste Material: A Note on My Generation." The Bookman. LXIII (May 1926),, 264. Fraser, G.S. "The Asthete and the Sensationalist." Par- tisan Review. XXII (Spring 1955), 265-72. 113 Gaull, Marilyn. "Language and Identity: A Study of E.E. Oummings' The Enormous Room." A£, XIX (Winter 1967), 645-62. Hayakawa, S.I. "is Indeed 5." Poetry. LI-LII (1938), 284-92. Honig, Edwin. "Proud of His Scientific Attitude." Ken- Yon Review. XVII (Summer 1955), 484-91. L l t t e l l , Robert. "Garbage and Gold." New Republic. XXX (May 10, 1922), 320-21. Muggeridge, Malcolm. "Pilgrim's Progress: Radio, Home Service, 14 April 1954." Muggeridge through the Micro- phone . ed, Christoper Railing. Fontana Books, 1969. "Recent Books in Brief Review." The Bookman. LV (July 1922), 536. Redman, Ben Ray. "Man the Animal." The Nation, XIV (June 7, 1922),. 691-92. ;. "Pot-Boiler with Ideas." NYTBR. June 15„ 1958, p.. 4. Rosenfeld, Paul. "The Enormous Oummings." Twice A Year. (3-4) (Pall-Winter, 1939/ Spring-Summer, 1940)7 271- 280; reprinted in S.V.. Baum, pp. 72-80. Smith, David E. "The Enormous Room and The Pilgrim"s Pro- gress." TOL. i r T l 9 6 2 ) , 67-75. "[Strainings and Obscurities]." NTT, May 29, 1922, p. 10; reprinted in ESPI: e e c E.E. Oummings and the Oritics. ed. with an Introd.~by S.V... Baum. East Lansing: Mich- igan State Univ. Press, 1962. Von Abele, Rudolph. "Only To Grow: Change i n the Poetry of E.E. Oummings." PMLA,. 70 (December 1955), 913-33. Widmer, Kingsley. "Timeless Prose." TOL. IV (April-July 1958), 3-8. Wilson, Edmund* "Wallace Stevens and E.E. Oummings." The New Republic. XXXVIII (March 19, 1924)r 102-103. 114 Background Books: Primary Apollinaire; Selected Poems, trans, with an Introd. Oliver Bernard. Middlesex:- Penguin Books Ltd,.. 1965. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, Letters & Papers Prom Prison. Eontana Books, 1965. "~ Brown, Norman 0, Life Against Death: The Psychoanal- ytic a l Meaning of History.. Modern Library. New York: Random House, 1959, Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim"s Progress.. Introd. Louis L. Martz.. New York:. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962. Dos Passos, *John. The Best Times: An Informal Memoir. Toronto: The New American Library of Canada Ltd., 1968. Hesse, Hermann. Narcissus and Goldmund. trans. Ursule Molinaro.. New York: Parrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968. Jeffares, A. Norman, ed. W.B. Yeats: Selected Poetry. London: MacMillan, 19o"77 Lawrence, D.H., Sons and Lovers, Compass Books. New York: The Viking Press, 1966, , The Rainbow. Middlesex:: Penguin Books, 1961. Maeterlinck, Maurice. Maeterlinck's Essays. New York:. R.F.. Fenno & Company, n.d, Mann, Thomas, Tonio Kroger, trans. H.T. Lowe-Porter. Middlesex: Penguin Books in association with Seeker & Warburg, 1928. "Of Repentance." Book III. The Complete Works of Mon- taigne, trans. Donald M. Frame. London: Hamish Hamilton, n.d. Noyes, Russell, ed. English Romantic Poetry and Prose. New York: Oxford Uhiv. Press, 1956V Picasso Drawings, text by Jean Leymarie, trans. Stuart GTTberT. Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1967. 115 Reaney, James. Oolours in the Dark. Vancouver: Talon- plays with MacMillan of Canada, 1969. Rilke, Rainer Maria. Letters To A Young Poet, trans. M.D. Herter.Norton. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1954. : Selected Works, trans. G. Craig Houston. Vol.1 New York: New Directions, I960.. Shapiro, Karl, ed. "E.E. Oummings: introduction to Poems  1925-1954." Prose Keys to Modern Poetry. New York: Harper & Row" 1962. The Collected Essays of John Peale Bishop, ed. Edmund Wilson, ppl S">95; originally published in SoR. IV (Summer 1938), 173-186; reprinted i n S.V. Baum, PP. 99-109. The Selected Letters of John Keats, ed. with an Introd. by Lionel T r i l l i n g . New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc•, 1951• The Sculpture of Gaston Lachaise with an essay by Hilda Kramer and appreciations by Hart Crane, E.E. Oummings, Marsden Hartley, Lincoln Kirstein, A. Hyatt Mayor & Henry McBiride. New York: The Eakins Press, 1967. Weber, Brom, ed. The Letters of Hart Crane: 1916-1932. Berkeley and Los Angeles:- UMv.. of California Press, 1965. Zola, Emile. L'Assommolr. trans. Atwood H. Townsend. Signet Classic. New York: The New American Library, 1962. ; War Novels Bbll, Heinrich. Absent Without Leave and Enter and Exit, trans. Leila Vennewitz. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1965. Dos Passos, John... Three Soldiers. Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Company, 1949. Ford, Ford Maddox. A Man Could Stand UJp. London: Sphere Books Limited, 1^69. 116 . No More Parades. New York: Grosset & Dunlop, 1925. r » Some Do Not ... & No More Parades. New York: The New American Library, 1964T Heller, Joseph. Oatch-22. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 196T7 Hemingway, Ernest. A Parewell to Arms. New York: Char- les Scribner's Sons, 1957. Mailer, Norman. fi The Naked and the Dead. Signet Books. New York: The New American Library, 1948. Remarque, Erich Maria. A l l Quiet on the Western Front, trans. A.W. Wheen. .Boston: L i t t l e , Brown and Co., 1958. Background Books: Secondary Chase, Richard. The American Novel and Its Tradition. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1957* Olive, Geoffrey. The Romantic Enlightenment: Ambiguity and Paradox in the Western Mind ((1750-1920). New York: Meridian Books, Inc., 1960. Downey, June. The Creative Imagination. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner &- Co., Ltd., 1929* Eisenstein, Serge. The Film Sense, trans. &. ed. Jay Leyda. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1968. Frankenberg, Lloyd. "Cummings Times One." Pleasure Dome: On Reading Modern Poetry. Dolphin Books. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1949* Hoffman, Frederick J. The Twenties: American Writing in the Postwar Decade. New York: Collier Books, 1962. Huizinga, Johan, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-El- ement in Culture. Boston: Beacon Press, 1966. James, Henry. "The Art of Fiction." The Major Critics, eds. Holmes, Fussell, Frazer. -New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965. I Kazin, Alfred. On Native Grounds: An Interpretation of Modern American Prose Literature. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1942. 117 O'Malley, Glenn, Shelley and Synaesthesia, [Evans tori] : Northwestern Univ. Press, 1964, Padrta, J i r i . . Picasso: The Early Years, with a Preface by Jean Cocteau. London: Spring House, n,d, Pearce, Roy Harvey. The Continuity of American Poetry, Princeton Univ. PresFJ 1965. Thibaudet, Albert. Reflexions sur le Roman. Vol. I. Paris: Gallimard, 1938, T r i l l i n g , Lionel. The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society. Anchor Books • New York: Doubleday &: Company, Inc., 1950.


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