Elias Canetti

Infobox Writer
name = Elias Canetti

awards = awd|Nobel Prize in Literature|1981
birthdate = birth date|1905|07|25|df=y
birthplace = Rousse, Bulgaria
deathdate = death date and age|1994|08|14|1905|07|25|df=y
deathplace = Zürich, Switzerland
occupation = Novelist

Elias Canetti (25 July 1905, Rousse, Bulgaria14 August 1994, Zurich, Switzerland) was a Bulgarian-born novelist of Sephardi Jewish ancestry who wrote in German and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981.


Elias Canetti was the eldest son in a Jewish merchant family in Rustchuk (present-day Rousse). His ancestors were Sephardi Jews who had been expelled from Spain in 1492. The original family name was "Cañete", named after a village in Spain. Elias spent his childhood years, from 1905 to 1911, in Rustchuk until the family moved to England. In 1912 his father died suddenly, and his mother moved with their children to Vienna in the same year.

They lived in Vienna from the time Canetti was aged seven onwards. His mother insisted that he speak German, and taught it to him. By this time Canetti already spoke Ladino (his mother tongue), Bulgarian, English and some French (he studied the latter two in the one year in England). Subsequently the family moved first (from 1916 to 1921) to Zurich and then (until 1924) to Germany, where Canetti graduated from high school.

Canetti went back to Vienna in 1924 in order to study chemistry. However, his primary interests during his years in Vienna became philosophy and literature. Introduced into the literary circles of first-republic-Vienna, he started writing. Politically leaning towards the left, he participated in the July Revolt of 1927. He gained a degree in chemistry from the University of Vienna in 1929, but never worked as a chemist. In 1938, after the Anschluss of Austria to greater Germany, Canetti moved to London where he became closely involved with the painter Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, who was to remain a close companion for many years to come. His name has also been linked with that of the author Iris Murdoch (see John Bayley's "Iris, A Memoir of Iris Murdoch", where there are several references to an author, referred to as "the Dichter", who was a Nobel Laureate and whose works included "Die Blendung").

Despite being a German writer, Canetti settled and stayed in England until the 1970s, receiving British citizenship in 1952. For his last 20 years, Canetti mostly lived in Zurich.

In 1981, Canetti won the Nobel Prize in Literature "for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power". He is known chiefly for "Crowds and Power," a study of crowd behavior as it manifests itself in human activities ranging from mob violence to religious congregations.

One of the best studies on Canetti's life and work was done by the French psychoanalyst Dr. Roger Gentis [http://amigos-de-borges.net/site/english/friends/honoris_causa.php] , "La folie Canetti", published by Maurice Nadeau (Paris, 1993).


* "Komödie der Eitelkeit" 1934 ("The Comedy of Vanity")
* "Die Blendung" 1935 ("Auto-da-Fé", novel, tr.1946)
* "Die Befristeten" 1956 (1956 premiere of the play in Oxford) ("Their Days are Numbered")
* "Masse und Macht" 1960 ("Crowds and Power", study, tr. 1962, published in Hamburg)
* "Aufzeichnungen 1942-48" 1965 ("Sketches")
* "Die Stimmen von Marrakesch" 1968 published by Hanser in Munich ("The Voices of Marrakesh", travelogue, tr. 1978)
* "Der andere Prozess" 1969 Kafkas Briefe an Felice ("Kafka's Other Trial", tr. 1974).
* "Hitler nach Speer" (Essay)
* "Die Provinz des Menschen" Aufzeichnungen 1942-1972 ("The Human Province", tr. 1978)
* "Der Ohrenzeuge. Fünfzig Charaktere" 1974 ("Ear Witness: Fifty Characters", tr. 1979).
* "Das Gewissen der Worte" 1975. Essays ("The Conscience of Words")
* "Die Gerettete Zunge" 1977 ("The Tongue Set Free", memoir, tr. 1979)
* "Die Fackel im Ohr" 1980 Lebensgeschichte 1921-1931 ("The Torch in My Ear", memoir, tr. 1982)
* "Das Augenspiel" 1985 Lebensgeschichte 1931-1937 ("The Play of the Eyes", memoir, tr. 1990)
* "Das Geheimherz der Uhr: Aufzeichnungen" 1987 ("The Secret Heart of the Clock", tr. 1989)
* "Die Fliegenpein" ("The Agony of Flies", 1992)
* "Nachträge aus Hampstead" ("Notes from Hampstead", 1994)
* "The Voices of Marrakesh" (published posthumously, [http://www.arionpress.com Arion Press] 2001, with photographs by Karl Bissinger and etchings by William T. Wiley )
* "Party im Blitz; Die englischen Jahre" 2003 ("Party in the Blitz", memoir, published posthumously, tr. 2005)
* "Aufzeichnungen für Marie-Louise (written 1942, compiled and published posthumously, 2005)


* Canetti Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named for Elias Canetti.

ee also

* Crowd psychology
* List of Jews
* List of South-East European Jews
* List of British Jews
* List of Sephardic Jews
* List of Austrian writers
* List of Austrian Jews


*Lesley Brill, " [http://www.mtds.wayne.edu/research/LesBrill.htm Terrorism, "Crowds and Power", and the Dogs of War] ," "Anthropological Quarterly" 76(1), Winter 2003: 87-94.
*William Collins Donahue, "The End of Modernism: Elias Canetti’s Auto-da-Fé" (University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
*William Collins Donahue and Julian Preece (eds), "The Worlds of Elias Canetti: Centenary Essays" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007).

External links

* [http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/1981/index.html Nobel Prize mini-site]
* [http://www.ibiblio.org/uncpress/chapters/donahue_end.html Preface to Donahue, "The End of Modernism"]

NAME = Canetti, Elias
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Bulgarian-born novelist
DATE OF BIRTH = 25 July 1905
PLACE OF BIRTH = Rousse, Bulgaria
DATE OF DEATH = 14 August 1994
PLACE OF DEATH = Zurich, Switzerland

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