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1. Crowds and Power
2. Auto-da-Fé
3. The Torch in my Ear
4. The Conscience of Words
5. Structures of Disintegration:
6. The Memoirs of Elias Canetti:
7. "Dearest Georg": Love, Literature,
8. Elias Canetti's Counter-Image
9. Auto de fe (Contemporanea / Contemporary)
10. Party in the Blitz
11. Auto-Da-fe
12. Understanding Elias Canetti (Understanding
13. The End of Modernism: Elias Canetti's
14. Notes from Hampstead: The Writer's
15. The Voices of Marrakesh: A Record
16. Blind Reflections: Gender in Elias
17. The Worlds of Elias Canetti: Centenary
18. Die Blendung.
19. Zu Elias Canetti (LGW-Interpretationen)
20. Die Fackel im Ohr. Lebensgeschichte

1. Crowds and Power
by Elias Canetti
Paperback: 496 Pages (1984-04-01)
list price: US$19.00 -- used & new: US$10.65
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374518203
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Crowds and Power is a revolutionary work in which Elias Canetti finds a new way of looking at human history and psychology. Breathtaking in its range and erudition, it explores Shiite festivals and the English Civil war, the finger exercises of monkeys and the effects of inflation in Weimar Germany. In this study of the interplay of crowds, Canetti offers one of the most profound and startling portraits of the human condition.
Amazon.com Review
Elias Canetti's 1981 Nobel Prize was awarded mainly on thebasis of this, his masterwork of philosophical anthropology aboutla condition humaine on an overpopulated planet.

Ranging from soccer crowds and political rallies to Bushmen and thepilgrimage to Mecca, Canetti exhaustively reviews the way crowds form,develop, and dissolve, using this taxonomy of mass movement as a keyto the dynamics of social life. The style is abstract, erudite, andanecdotal, which makes Crowds and Power the sort of work thatawes some readers with its profundity while irritating others with itselusiveness.Canetti loves to say something brilliant butcounterintuitive, and then leave the reader to figure out both why hesaid it and whether it's really true. --Richard Farr ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars A profound yet accessible work about crowds and power
Over twenty years in the making, this book is a must read for anybody who's ever been disturbed by destructive crowd behavior or the horror of tyrannical rulers. Insights into crowd psychology and the pathology of power are supplied through a wealth of material from such diverse subjects as anthropology, psychology, biology, religion, and literature. However, what emerges is no mere dry academic treatise, but an absolutely fascinating journey through topics such as the rain dances of the Pueblo Indians, the finger exercises of monkeys, and the hallucinations of alcoholics.

Even if you find yourself disagreeing with some of the author's conclusions, you will still find yourself looking at the world in new ways. For example, I will never watch the public actions of an orchestra conductor without trying to glean insights into the nature of power.

In short, this is one of those rare books which makes old, dull things you've known for years suddenly stand up in a whole new dimension.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's a man eat man world out there...

Well, if I'd ever once been a cockeyed optimist or a believer in the inherent goodness of humanity, this book would certainly have knocked the foundations out from under me and brought all my idealism crashing down. Fortunately, I guess, I already stand in the after-world of shattered illusions and so Canetti's *Crowds and Power* didn't disturb my uninterruptedly black view of human nature with even the briefest flicker of light. It only gave me another way to look at a bleak landscape.

This book is a massive--and for the most part massively entertaining--indictment of the human being at virtually every level of its existence. Whether alone, in packs, or full-sized crowds, our goal is not just survival, but to be the last man standing beside a pile of corpses. No kidding. Crudely put, that's the bottom line, but its how Canetti adds up the facts to arrive at his thesis, or, perhaps more accurately, subtracts all the subterfuges we hide behind, that provides the real fascination of *Crowds and Power.*

Somewhat reminiscent at times of Frazer's *Golden Bough,* Canetti's masterpiece explores, in part, ancient as well as more recent, but still `primitive' native cultures to reveal the power principle that drives civilizations and those who rule them. At the same time, he shows how the same ruthless dynamic is at work in modern society and in practically all human relationships. Animal behavior, paranoid schizophrenics, the hidden symbolism in the act of standing up, it's all brought to bear. Canetti's dazzling insights and audacious intellectual leaps, some more convincing than others, are startling, shocking--and maybe even true. The teeth in their smooth rows as mankind's first inspiration for order, weapons, and eventually prisons? Is it possible? We laugh when someone trips and falls because it reminds us--in less `civilized' times--of the fatal stumble of prey. As Canetti succinctly puts it, "Laughter is our physical reaction to the escape of potential food."

Supporting ideas and examples for such unsettling observations come from the most unexpected places and yet somehow they all come together through the medium of Canetti's astounding intellect to provide a powerful and plausible view of life that you're going to have to put out of your mind the next time you find yourself at a party, in the office, or in a crowded theater--well, really anywhere you find yourself confronted with other people. You see, they all have one driving passion: to survive you.

There's a short cautionary epilogue to the book in which Canetti holds out some scant hope, but you get the sense that he really didn't feel it.

At times, *Crowds and Power* becomes mired in its own attempt at comprehensiveness; excerpts from source material, for instance, is either too long or repetitive or both and some of Canetti's theories seem more the result of poetic imagination than philosophical speculation. But these are small caveats beside a work of such monumental scholarship and scope--a courageous work that stares relentlessly at the darkest places in the human psyche and doesn't once squint. If you follow Canetti's lead, you'll surely come away changed by what you see.

4-0 out of 5 stars Canetti's Grim but Truthful World
Canetti's book is somewhat strange; it is also gripping and often uncannily accurate about the nature of power.At the same time it is full of conceptual nodes and holes that reflect the peculiarities of his own life and the times in which he lived (e.g., can the world's wide array of political arrangements be reduced to the narrow spectrum of paranoid rulers, their enablers, and the preponderanthuman majority of quasi-slaves that Canetti presents as typical throughout all of human history?) Taking into account his own early life as an "undesirable element" (a Jew) who wasnot fully welcome in the land of his birth (Bulgaria) and who was then cast out of the society of his adolescence and early manhood in Vienna (where he acquired his higher education and the language of his thought andwriting) his focus in Crowds and Power makes sense in a very personal way--had you led his life with all of its insults you too might have arrived at similar conclusions about the dismal nature of "power relationships" among people, especially if you came of age during the pan-European turmoils of the first half of twentieth century, a very bad time for the human race.

The work is "Nietzschean" in its construction and often in its tone (and, from the light shed on human thinking, there are shades of Kafka in the work as well -man as beset, mortified and made anxious by the social walls that surround him and metastasize in growth and shape in his mind.)As in Nietzsche, there are idiosyncratic topic groupings and unexpected leaps between groupings.Canetti illuminates his central point by setting intellectual bonfires in a circle around it.There are strikingly original chapters that deal with topics such as "transformation" (the key to understanding totemism), "the mask", and the blatant intrusiveness of asking any but the simplest question.The style is often aphoristic, and many of its aphorisms are slaps in the reader's face, prodding us gently with the message that it's time to wake up.

Unusual typologies and word-usages abound (e.g., "increase pack", "lamentation pack", "crowd crystals", "command stings", "paralytic sensibility", and, most importantly, his catholic terms "Crowd" and "Survivor", each of which embraces a wealth of pathologies.) These oddities are not a product of faulty translation, since Canetti knew Englishwell enough not to allow his key terms to be misrepresented by a lazy choice in that language.The workranges widely through history, cultural anthropology, psychology, and evolutionary theory asthese analytical frameworks were applied in his day to the explanation of specific behavior patterns in men, monkeys, and other animals, all within his general interpretation that discrete pieces of evidence from these disciplines fall under the heading of "the crowd phenomenon", either literally or metaphorically.

We are left with considering men to be either Survivors orSlaves.The only "free" man who avoids the "sting" built into every command and its acceptance or rejection is the man who altogether evadessituations in which commands are given and responded to.By avoiding the normal situation of playing a part in a social hierarchy he becomes free; such a man has to be, by definition, marginal, perhaps even a social isolate. (Canetti was well-known for his individualism and his prickliness, brutally self-illuminated in Partyin the Blitz - one wonders if he considered his behavior to be the tokens of such a hypothetical "free man"?)There is something in Canetti's typology that is akin to Raul Hilberg's Holocaust-studies classification of hundreds of millions of Europeans as either perpetrators, victims, or (not entirely innocent) bystanders - for Canetti seems to see human history as a sort of continuous political holocaust, a repetitive nightmare of power relations from which we cannot awake.

Canetti's Survivor runs the gamut from the winner of a duel or contest through the warrior (especially the warrior as a general or commander of troops) through the ordinary king to the most paranoid (and therefore bloodthirsty) absolute ruler --undoubtedly the unsavory careers of Hitler and Stalin were prompting him in this typological direction.The ultimate Survivor best differentiates himself from the Crowd by standing alone amid a pile of corpses his commands have created; yet he remains anxious that the vast majority of humanity (i.e., the dead) will still try to interfere in his life, control his thoughts, and suck him into their bleak vortex.Canetti lived long enough to entertain the cases of Mao or Pol Pot, and these could only strengthen his conviction about the correctness of his analysis of power and its recurring tendency to manifest itself in psychotic demi-godly rulers.

In spite of the level of Germanic abstraction and reification in the presentation of his ideas about power, much of the evidentiary material he draws upon is still useful in the analysis of contemporary social and ideological phenomena.Some of the material is surprisinglygermanetoday --who could have guessed the present temporal consequences ofthe basic outlook of Shiite Islam, which, sixty years ago, he characterized as a wounded and resentful cult of lamentation that could only be soothed and healed by a yearned-for apocalyptic ending of human history?Wounded beasts are dangerous, especially when new-found wealth is coupled to old resentments.

He summarizes his equations by his closing comments on the case of Daniel Paul Schreber. (On a parenthetical note, reading of Schreber's father's exploits-- inventing devices to physically restrain his own children --goes a long way toward explaining not only the substance of many of Schreber's delusions, but also the popularity in 19th century Germany of illustrated childhood discipline manuals, some of them presented in darkly comical form, e.g., Heinrich Hoffmann's Struwwelpeter. What dark roads this mania led to, hardly comical, is left to the reader's imagination.)Schreber became the demented sounding-board of Kraeplein, Bleuler, Freud and many other observors who wished to generalize about something (and even everything) important about all of us,based on minute examination of the delusions of this most famous, and most eloquent, late Victorian madman.The correct medical diagnosis of Schreber's condition was that he suffered from "paranoid schizophrenia" accompanied by florid delusions of grandeur.According to Canetti it is these attributes which also characterize history's great men, and what delusional power over man and the universe Schreber wielded inhis fantasies, those great men have wielded over our bodies and minds. It's a grim picture and may even be an accurate one.

The work concludes with a brief epilogue in which hope of escape from our almost biological thralldom to power might be based on our understanding the roots of our craven condition as they are diagnosed by the author.If the success of the "talking cure" in psychiatry is taken as our model, then we're still in for a long and gloomy night.

5-0 out of 5 stars MASTERPIECE
In this essay you will explore the turns and bends, ins and outs, of the mind of one of the most transcendental writers of the twentieth century. He will tell you -without sparing any concept, any idea, any word- his vision of the nature of human beings and their relations. It is a penetrating perspective. Very original. And harsh.
Read the book to its very last page. The way you appreciate the world, your world, will never, ever, be the same.

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent
It requires a deeply individual experience to understand 'Crowds and Power'. According to Canetti, The concept of crowd is ontologically prior to Man; a crowd is not just a bunch of people. In one of the most illuminating books ever written, Canetti takes one through two of the most important traits that have shaped Man's destiny on this planet - the formation of crowds and the facet of power. This is not a book about crowds. Its about Man. What emerges is no mere dry academic treatise, but an absolutely fascinating journey through topics such as the rain dances of the Pueblo Indians, the finger exercises of monkeys, and the hallucinations of alcoholics.

The kaliedoscopic journey for the reader includes a vast range of topics from Australian aborigines,pueblo indians, jivaro indians, etruscans to ants, monkeys, kangaroos to Islam, Christianity, Judaism. This is anthropology at its best. The study psychology of crowds in human history: crowd behaviour, crowd symbols, types of crowds, crowd mentalities; the individual vs the crowd, the crowd in contemporary history; there are anecdotes about everything from primitive tribal cultures, ancient African rulers, modern European history etc... For example, in describing the psychology of mass fear as it relates to its twin, the desire to out-survive others, he cites unexpected examples: burial customs in rural India in which a strenuous attempt is made to appease the spirit of the child if it dies a preventable death; the peculiar madness of Roman emperors; and the Viking warriors' tradition of piling up a mound of stones before going into battle.

Canetti defines crowd as a cumulation of small units into a large ensemble, causing it to become something entirely different from the units that make it up. He sees nature as the teacher that taught man to behave as a crowd, as a liquid. For example, for the Germans, it is the forest with its innumerable trees, standing vertically, that has inspired the German soul since time primordial in its aspiration to become a marching liquid. For the Arabs, it is the sand of the desert. For the Dutch, it is the threatening sea itself. For the Mongols, the horse. ... Read more

2. Auto-da-Fé
by Elias Canetti
Paperback: 468 Pages (1984-12-01)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$9.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374518793
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Auto-da-Fé, Elias Canetti's only work of fiction, is a staggering achievement that puts him squarely in the ranks of major European writers such as Robert Musil and Hermann Broch. It is the story of Peter Kien, a scholarly recluse who lives among and for his great library. The destruction of Kien through the instrument of the illiterate, brutish housekeeper he marries constitutes the plot of the book. The best writers of our time have been concerned with the horror of the modern world--one thinks of Kafka, to whom Canetti has often been compared. But Auto-de-Fé stands as a completely original, unforgettable treatment of the modern predicament.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars This world has to burn
Originally published in 1935, "Auto da Fe" is un unclassifiable book. It is the work of a lucid man about totally demented characters. That is, if you examine them from the point of view of our "normal" world. From their own perspective, however, all act in the most rational, coherent way. Maybe the only way to approach this book and enjoy it is with a very-dark-humor attitude, capable of digesting all of humanity's vices and weaknesses, exposed sordidly. The book admits a thousand interpretations, but possibly the most obvious ones are: humans' inability to communicate with each other; the construction of reality as a phenomenon elaborated and only occurring within every one's mind; and the will to self deception that dominates us.

The first part "A head without a world", tells us the life of Peter Kien "the greatest sinologist in the world", a 40 year old man, asexual, who lives cloistered in his apartment, wiht his 25 thousand-books library, totally isolated in his ivory tower, and alienated from people and the world around him. Trying to find symbolisms, he might represent the German intellectuals who chose not to see, in the 1930's. In fact, one's voluntary self-limitation of the visual field is the dominant theme of the book, and all the characters practice it. Self-deceived and worried about the fate of his library, Kien decides to marry his maid, Therese, who has been with him for eight years. Therese turns out to be ambitious, vulgar, also self-delusional, and above all, intrusive, which obviously makes the marriage a disaster. A tragicomic one which ends in Therese throwing Kien out of his apartment. As a satire of marriage, it's perfect.

The second part, "A world without a head", tells the crazed adventures of Kien through the unnamed Vienna. During one of his vagaries by the libraries, Kien enters a sordid brothel. There, the Quixotic Kien (tall and thin and all), finds a Sancho in the figure of the sinister criminal Fischerle, Jew, dwarf, crooked, thief, and pimp. Fischerle proceeds to manipulate and expoliate Kien, helped by a motley crew which includes a worker of the sewers, a falsely blind beggar, a peddler, and a dwarf female newspaper seller. Around the pawning shop, a crazy farce develops which ends with all the characters in the police quarters. Along the story appears another main character, the superintendent of Kien's building, Pfaff, a brutal ex cop obsessed with beating women, who has actually murdered his wife and daughter. He may be said to represent the up and coming Nazis, though Canetti never uses the word at all. The third part, "A World in the Head", wraps it all up in a crazy way.

This is a unique novel, surely appreciated only by a few people, as it is difficult to digest for people looking for a more conventional depiction of the world, or for faint-hearted or overly sensitive persons, not to speak of the politically correct, who will surely miss the point entirely, as it is a humanistic work protective of universal values and tolerance (from a paradoxical point of view). It is, at the same time, a universal work, full of brilliant, profound and provocative sentences, and a work representative of the craziest century in history: the XXth. A work of genius.

5-0 out of 5 stars Way to post a spoiler review Amazon
Does Amazon really have to post a review that's just a summary of the entire plot of this amazing novel? One of the joys/horrors of reading it is to find out what happens in the next chapter - just like one does with trashy bestsellers, but on a much, much, MUCH higher level.

Read all the other 5 star reviews, and avoid any that mark it lower.

1-0 out of 5 stars blah
Dont buy this book.I am very disappointed.It is a waste of time and money, what is more important?

4-0 out of 5 stars A Nightmare
The first part of the book reminded me of some familiar dark comedy, maybe an early Nabokov or the neglected American author Russell Greenan. In the second part, our protagonist leaves his bookish sanctuary for a series of delusional misadventures, accompanied by a differently delusional dwarf, who almost seemed to be a parody of Sancho Panza. The third part introduces the protagonist's brother, a seemingly rational pychoanalyst with much more functional delusions of gradeur.

No one should expect a happy ending from this dark comedy. If anything, it makes the point stunningly that each of us is trapped in his or her own absurd states of misinterpretation of the world and the others we encounter and that cruelty and disregard of humanity seems to be unavoidable.

This book, for some reason, gave me a few nightmares, so I guess it must have been worth the time to read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very pleased
I received this book in a timely manner and in very good condition. ... Read more

3. The Torch in my Ear
by Elias Canetti
Paperback: 384 Pages (2009-05-01)
list price: US$29.00 -- used & new: US$20.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374518041
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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The Torch in My Ear is the account of Canetti's young manhood, of his arrival in Vienna in the early 1920s, of his schooling, and of the beginning of his life as a writer.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars BEST OUT OF THREE
Of Canetti's three volumes of memoirs, this is the most useful and widely appealing. The first volume is strictly about his family--well written but of narrow interest. This second volume covers the artistic ferment of 1920s Vienna and Berlin. Everything is fresh and beautifully rendered, but the finest section concerns his time in Berlin in 1928. At that point Canetti was a humble unpublished writer lucky enough to meet everybody. His profiles of Brecht, Grosz, and Isaac Babel are extraordinary, particularly because there is so much action and dialogue to supplement his acute judgments. But in the third volume, "Play of the Eyes," he is now an ambitious writer and completely full of himself. The tone becomes sour and self-referential and his portraits of other writers like Broch and Joyce say little and do so patronizingly. If you want anything beyond Canetti himself, the third volume is worthless. For best results, concentrate on the Berlin section of this second volume: a really tasty slice of life in that time and place.

4-0 out of 5 stars on the trail of the Noblists
Very good writing.Intellectually stimulating.Great deal of philosophy and study of human nature.Just a bit too much of literary rambling but in 85% keept my attention properly.I liked the insider scoop on the 1920s art scene of Berlin and Vienna.I don't like tha he doesn't hint the outcome of his only true romance in this book ( in real life he marries her).
Even with his fascination with the "crowd" one feels that deep down he never belonged to any.And good for him...:) ... Read more

4. The Conscience of Words
by Elias Canetti
 Paperback: 246 Pages (1984-12)
list price: US$8.95
Isbn: 0374518815
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beyond Words
These essays are, in simple terms, beautiful.Carefully crafted,
precise, an astounding work from a literary genius.In these essays, Canetti explores much of his philosophic world both in shorter form (than say his memoirs) and through focusing his energy and craft on singular issuesThe essays delve into matters ranging from the aftermath of hiroshima to the mind of Speer (Hitler's architect), while also exploring major life topics for Canetti such as the role of crowds in the human psyche and the rule of power.

The collection of essays, Das Gewissen der Woerter, is a great place to enter the world of Elias Canetti.Each essay is a gem that once you set your eyes on you can not let go of until having digested it in entirety.When I first began this book it was 10 minutes before I was to meet a friend for lunch.After reading the first paragraph, I was hooked.I ended up missing my lunch date and it was worth it. ... Read more

5. Structures of Disintegration: Narrative Strategies in Elias Canetti's Die Blendung (Studies in Austrian Literature, Culture, and Thought)
by David Darby
 Hardcover: 236 Pages (1992-01)
list price: US$33.00 -- used & new: US$33.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0929497503
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6. The Memoirs of Elias Canetti: The Tongue Set Free, The Torch in My Ear, The Play of the Eyes
by Elias Canetti
Paperback: 840 Pages (2000-04-26)
list price: US$20.00
Isbn: 0374527148
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A compelling account of the development of a great artist, and a portrait of the tragic character of an entire era

The uncompromising achievement of Elias Canetti has been matched by few writers this century. Canetti worked brilliantly in many forms, but the three volumes that comprise his autobiography are where his genius is perhaps most evident. The first volume, The Tongue Set Free, presents the events, personalities, and intellectual forces that fed Canetti's early creative development. The Torch in My Ear explores his admiration for the first great mentor of his adulthood, Karl Krauss, and also describes his first marriage. The final volume, The Play of the Eyes, is set in Vienna between 1931 and 1937, with the European catastrophe imminent; here he vividly portrays relationships with Hermann Broch and Robert Musil, among others.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars The intellectual development of Elias Canetti; or, "The Tongue Starts Wagging"
Published in three parts--"The Tongue Set Free," "The Torch in My Ear," "The Play of the Eyes"--the memoirs of Elias Canetti are variable in their quality and interest. (A fourth volume, "Party in the Blitz," was cobbled together posthumously from fragments.) The first volume's opening sections lovingly describe the Sephardic community where he was raised (in what is now Bulgaria), childhood exploits (including his attempt to take an axe to his cousin and her retribution when she pushed him into a pot of scalding water and nearly killed him), the competing maternal and paternal dynasties, his family's flight to England, and the curse of his grandfather on Canetti's father. Yet, after the death of his father, Canetti seemed locked in an emotional struggle with his mother; their hot-and-cold warfare takes up much of the first two volumes. (For a writer whose disdain for Freud is nearly always palpable, he certainly--and unintentionally--offers himself as a case study.)

The trilogy follows Canetti only through the mid-1930s, when he finally published his first book (and only novel), "Auto-da-Fe"--which I've come to regard as a singular masterpiece. If you've read the novel, there are numerous passages that explain its background, genesis, and meaning, and these, I feel, are among the most valuable sections of the memoir. More generally, Canetti details his intellectual development and the many people, living and dead, who influenced him. A consummate name-dropper, the author recalls his meetings and friendships with numerous contemporary writers, artists, and musical celebrities in Berlin and in Vienna: Kark Kraus (with whom he became somewhat obsessed), Brecht, Broch, Babel, Berg, Grosz, Musil, and many others.

Sadly, if in the first volume, Canetti's tongue is "set free"; by the second and third volumes it is forever wagging; many of these profiles are gossipy and surprisingly lifeless. More often than not, Canetti treats these celebrities as reflections of (or impediments to) his own intellectual aspirations--how so-and-so inspired, mocked, or repulsed him, or how he aggravated them, either intentionally or inadvertently. Canetti's portrait of Brecht, for example, is frustratingly vague; the older writer is often described in terms that would just as equally describe Canetti himself: "The things I said to [Brecht], and that annoyed him, weighed less than a thread. . . . He did not much care for people, but he put up with them; he respected those who were persistently useful to him; he noticed others only to the extent that they corroborated his somewhat monotonous view of the world."

There is even a single encounter with James Joyce, who came to the first reading of Canetti's play "The Comedy of Vanity" and who made during the intermission what was probably a quip about shaving "with a straight razor and no mirror" (there is a reference in the play about shaving in front of mirrors). Canetti bizarrely inflates this sentence--the only thing Joyce said to him--into a criticism, "a declaration of war." (I've read the section three times and I'm still unable to understand the source of the umbrage.) The most powerful portrait, not ironically, is the least threatening: Canetti befriends Thomas Marek, a philosophy student who is completely paralyzed from the neck down, and the resulting chapters are both touching and lively.

In all, there is much in these three volumes about Canetti's growth as an artist and about the heady renaissance in Berlin and Vienna, as well as the portentous rise of the Nazis (who banned Canetti's novel). Taken in small doses, the prose is alternately beautiful or biting; used as a reference, the account serves as a guide to a vibrant artistic scene. But there is also too much: too much abstraction, too much navel-gazing, too many self-aggrandizing encounters with lesser dignitaries who, more often than not, rankled the young, would-be author. For the scholar willing to sift through the muck, there's the stuff of a great biography here, but not a great memoir.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great for the Specialist, Good for the Casual Reader
Canetti, a Nobel Prize winner in Literature (1981), is little known but his works and ideas remain for the interested reader.This autobiography is a long read but worth it for those interested in early 20th century Europe and in the German literature of that period.

The highlights of the book are the fluid, likable prose and the rich characterization offered.Canetti draws some very memorable characters, some of which went on to people his writings.The most valuable aspect of the book will be to those with a passion for German literature because Canetti offers his personal impressions and insights about many of his era's great writers, especially Bloch and Musil.He also charts the inspiration and development of his own great works.

Reading some of the other reviews I think is misleading.Nice a read as this book is, I hardly found it to be the masterpiece that so many others claim it to be.It is a major investment of reading time and should be taken only by those with particular interest in the subject matter.Pound for pound, I think Canetti's most famous writings (Crowds and Power, Auto-Da-Fe) are a much better introduction to this thinker.The insights he offers in his long autobiography are relatively sparse.And, as warm and personal as the style of the autobiography is, I would hardly class it `candid.'He doesn't get racy in any way; one would assume his love affairs were all about literary conversations.And the impressions he gives are usually reserved and non-confrontational.One reads about his mother's incredibly controlling behavior but never does he rail against the irrationality of it and express what are surely his true feelings about her.I expected a lot more about the burgeoning Fascism and atmosphere of horror that was rapidly closing in on Europe in the 1930s.Instead, all of this is represented in inchoate concerns about the future.I would have greatly appreciated hearing about his own flight from the Nazis and his feelings about that whole nightmare.He stopped the autobiography well before WWII leaving it as nothing but a looming specter.

But, all in all, it is a nicely done autobiography.His respect for his mentor, Dr. Sonne, speaks volumes about the missing father in his life.His sum-up of Dr. Sonne's agenda gives a wonderful design for the book as a whole:

"What a man touched upon, he should take with him.If he forgot it, he should be reminded.What gives a man worth is that he incorporates everything he has experienced.This includes the countries where he has lived, the people whose voices he has heard.It also takes in his origins, if he can find out something about them.By this he [Sonne] meant not only one's private experience but everything concerning the time and place of one's beginnings.The words of a language one may have spoken and heard only as a child imply the literature in which it flowered.The story of a banishment must include everything that happened before it as well as the rights subsequently claimed by the victims.Others had fallen before and in different ways; they too are part of the story.It is hard to evaluate the justice of such a claim to history.To Sonne's mind history was eminently the area of guilt.We should know not only what happened to our fellow men in the past but also what they were capable of.We should know what we ourselves are capable of.For that, much knowledge is needed; from whatever direction, at whatever distance knowledge offers itself, one should reach out for it, keep it fresh, water it and fertilize it with new knowledge."

5-0 out of 5 stars I don't know anything better.
I have never known better literature. I myself am not a good writer so I'll just say is this: Canetti heightend my sensitivity towards life - fundamentally. His autobiography showed me how complex and interesting life can be, if you see it through a mind like Canetti's who is able to describe his perception in a more profound yet boad way than anybody and who chose a corresponding path of life. I'm glad I read him while still in college, because otherwise I had not known how narrowminded I really was before I met Canetti.
My favorite book.

(PS. English is not my first language so please excuse whatever you don't like about my writing.)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Genius Way Ahead of his Time
I first read Auto-da-Fe on the recommendation of my German teacher at school. Even then, I was astounded by Canetti's humour and intelligence. I was delighted to come across a rather shabby hardbound copy of The Torch in my Ear on sale for £1.00 outside Surrey County Council Library recently.

I settled down to reacquaint myself with Canetti and, like a reunion with an old friend, I was overjoyed to rediscover his warmth, his wit, and his searing intellect. For such a clever man, though, Canetti is still aware he has a reading public eager to hear tales of the famous names, with whom he rubbed shoulders during his very brief time in Berlin. To learn that the great George Grosz was indeed a misogynist and Brecht a slave to fashion gave me that wry smile that I remembered from reading Canetti before.

For anyone wanting to gain a really deep insight into Central Europe in the 1920's and 30's, this is the book to read and not the titillating, ever-so-British accounts of Christopher Isherwood.

5-0 out of 5 stars a perfect piece of literary fiction
what a book, what a writer! having read plenty of literary autobiographies, i am still stunned at the depth and insight of these three volumes. the first, tongue set free, is the most lyrical; the other twofocus more on young canetti's developement as a writer and thinker. such iscanetti's art that only after reading the books several times the readernotices all the things he is not told...although this autobiography is agreat source of enjoyment to everyone who is interested in literature, itshould be read with a bit of caution: never to forget that this is, despiteeverything, literary fiction. i am not implying that canetti is lying (heis not), but he has more purpose than just presenting his times and lifes,and some scenes (like the describtion of café museum) seem to be justdescribtions while they are full or literary quotes etc. i think it is thisthat sets canetti's work apart from other writers of the era. ... Read more

7. "Dearest Georg": Love, Literature, and Power in Dark Times: The Letters of Elias, Veza, and Georges Canetti, 1933-1948
by Karen Lauer, Veza & Elias Canetti
Kindle Edition: 448 Pages (2010-01-28)
list price: US$19.99
Asin: B00362XLG4
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In 1934, Veza Taubner and Elias Canetti were married in Vienna. Elias describesthe arrangement to his brother Georges as a “functional” marriage. Meanwhile, anintense intellectual love affair develops between Veza and Georges, a young doctorsuffering fromtuberculosis.Four years later, Veza and Elias flee Nazi-ruled Viennato London, where they lead an impoverished and extremely complicated marital lifein exile.
Spanning the major part of Elias’s struggle for literary recognition,from 1933, before the publication of his novel, Auto-da-Fé, to 1959, when he finishedhis monumental Crowds and Power, the Canetti letters provide an intimate look atthese formative years through the prism of a veritable love triangle: the newly marriedElias has a string of lovers; his wife, Veza, is hopelessly in love with an idealizedimage of his youngest brother, Georges; and Georges is drawn to good looking menas well as to his motherly sister-in-law. Independently and often secretly, the couplecommunicates with Georges, who lives in Paris: Veza tells of Elias’s amorous escapadesand bouts of madness, Elias complains about Veza’s poor nerves and depression.Eachof them worries about Georges’s health–if she could, Veza would kiss away the germs.Georges is an infrequent correspondent, but he diligently stores away the lettersfrom his brother and sister-in-law.In 2003, long after his death, they were accidentallydiscovered in a Paris basement and comprise not only a moving and insightful document,but real literature.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

8. Elias Canetti's Counter-Image of Society: Crowds, Power, Transformation
Hardcover: 174 Pages

Isbn: 1571131604
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9. Auto de fe (Contemporanea / Contemporary) (Spanish Edition)
by Elias Canetti
Paperback: 624 Pages (2005-06-22)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$17.09
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Asin: 8497936787
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A traves de la historia de Peter Kien, un especialista en China internacionalmente conocido, propietario de una biblioteca de 25.000 volumenes de la que se ocupa el mismo, Canetti habla de los peligros de considerar que un intelectualismo rigido y dogmatico, encerrado en si mismo, pueda prevalecer sobre el mal, el caos y la destruccion. Asi, el protagonista de Auto de fe, despues de sonar que sus libros eran quemados, se casa con su asistenta, Teresa, una mujer iletrada y embrutecida, que habra de ayudarle en la tarea de preservar su biblioteca. Pero Teresa le echa de su casa y Kien, convertido en un mendigo, vaga por el submundo de la ciudad, con su espiritu fluctuando entre horribles alucinaciones y una realidad inenarrable. Su desintegracion final le llevara, en una accion que cierra el ciclo de su sueno premonitorio, a quemar su biblioteca y esperar alli la muerte, en medio del incendio. Con Auto de fe continuamos con la edicion de la obra completa de Canetti, dirigida por Juan Jose del Solar. «Salvaje, sutil, hermosamente misteriosa. Una de las pocas grandes novelas del siglo.» IRIS MURDOCH ... Read more

10. Party in the Blitz
by Elias Canetti
Paperback: 256 Pages (2010-02-25)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$8.02
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Asin: 0811218309
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Nobel Prize winner Elias Canetti’s sensational memoir: a frank, acerbic, and cranky way his years of British exile.Elias Canetti originally intended Party in the Blitz to capture an image of his time in post-war London. Well known throughout Europe, Canetti scorned British intellectuals who weren’t familiar with his work. By force of will alone he accumulated English followers, but not before being christened “the godmonster of Hampstead.” Canetti’s memories of various people in his social circle are brief and scathing brimstone sketches. T.S. Eliot, Iris Murdoch, Wittgenstein, Herbert Read, Bertrand Russell–Canetti rakes them all over the coals. To Canetti, T.S. Eliot was nothing more than an American emigrant trying desperately to act British, and Canetti’s portrayal of Iris Murdoch, with whom he had an affair, is nothing short of brutal. Michael Hofmann’s translation pulls no punches, delivering the goods on Canetti’s searing injection: “when you write down your life, every page should contain something no one has ever heard about.” ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Canetti on Canetti
I worship the late Elias Canetti.If nobody's heard of him, it's because we live in a culture that is fundamentally ignorant and under-educated.CROWDS AND POWER should be required reading in every school in this nation.Canetti's cycle of memoirs collectively comprises some of the best intellectual history of the twentieth century.PARTY IN THE BLITZ is the great man's last piss-blast in the face of a world he saw as hostile, stupid, and bent on destruction.The price of this book is justified alone by what Canetti says about T.S. Elliot.Elliot was one of the biggest anti-semites of all time, a cold prude who hated Jews, wrote bad pretentious poetry so arcane it needed footnotes (which he himself supplied), and desperately wanted to be an Englishman when in fact he was from St. Louis, Missouri.Canetti recognized what a sham Elliot was, and doesn't hesitate to let us know what Elliot was really like, through the eyes of an objective observer and not some fawning Catholic biographer.

It's true that Canetti rips just about everyone to shreds in this book, but he has some amazingly kind things to say, too.He remembers, for instance, a mere street sweeper, who he talked to just in passing for many years, and whom he considered one of the most intelligent men he ever met.Canetti was a man who refused to suffer fools; he despised airs and pretentiousness.He was probably one of the most intelligent men of his age, which was almost certainly his great curse.He saw through the masks people wear, the illusions they use to disguise their flaws and insecurities, with ease.It was this great lucidity of his, this ability to perceive and understand things as they really are, that made him impatient, and ultimately, incredibly bitter.

3-0 out of 5 stars Party of One
I would wager that this is a Nobel Prize winning author most Americans (including me, prior to reading this book) have not heard of, let alone read. And from this memoir of that part of his life while living in England-- mostly during World War II--, it will probably stay that way.

Elias Canetti comes off as an arrogant, dour, and self-centered intellectual with brutal views of some women and fellow authors and no discernable concern that-- apparently-- he made no meaningful contribution to the war effort of that good country which hosted and protected him during a time of extreme trials.

He seems to me an example of the type of high intellectual who thinks nothing of being utterly cruel toward individuals in print, then wonders why countries so stupidly go to war.

From this patched together book, one can appreciate the essence of Mr.Canetti's fine writing skills without being brought to liking this now deceased author.

The useful afterword by Jeremy Adler is very good in that it puts both the book and the author into some context for the non-expert reader.

... Read more

11. Auto-Da-fe
by Elias Canetti
 Mass Market Paperback: 464 Pages (1969)

Asin: B000N47K4W
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12. Understanding Elias Canetti (Understanding Modern European and Latin American Literature)
by Richard H. Lawson
 Hardcover: 123 Pages (1991-09)
list price: US$29.95
Isbn: 0872497682
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13. The End of Modernism: Elias Canetti's Auto-da-FÈ
by William Donahue
Paperback: 304 Pages (2001-10-29)
list price: US$70.00 -- used & new: US$64.69
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Asin: 0807881244
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Nobel laureate Elias Canetti wrote his novel Auto-da-Fé(Die Blendung) when he and the twentieth century were still quite young. Rooted in the cultural crises of the Weimar period, Auto-da-Fé first received critical acclaim abroad--in England, France, and the United States--where it continues to fascinate readers of subsequent generations. Critical reactions have abounded, but never has a comprehensive study placed this work in its cultural and philosophical contexts. The End of Modernism seeks to do just that, situating the novel not only in relation to Canetti's considerable body of social thought, but also within larger debates on Freud and Freudianism, misogyny and modernism's "fragmented subject," racial anti-Semitism and the failure of humanism, contemporary philosophy and philosophical fads, and traditionalist notions of literature and escapist conceptions of history. The End of Modernism portrays Auto-da-Fé as an exemplum of "analytic modernism," and in this sense a crucial endpoint in the progression of postwar conceptions of literary modernism. ... Read more

14. Notes from Hampstead: The Writer's Notes: 1954-1971
by Elias Canetti
Paperback: 228 Pages (2005-12-01)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$14.28
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Asin: 0374530599
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com Review
Nobel Prize winner Elias Canetti kept this writer's journalfrom 1954 to 1971 while he was living in London and writing, amongother things, Crowdsand Power. It's a deliberately unstructured list of ideas andpossibilities from which his thematic obsessions emerge onlygradually.

Most entries are just a sentence or two in length, varying in qualityfrom the obvious to the profound. Many take the tantalizing form of afictional premise not followed through ("A country where everyonewalks backwards, to keep an eye on themselves. A country where allturn their backs on one another: fear of eyes.") But the overalltone, as with his other writings, is more gnomically philosophical. Atypical stand-alone entry reads, "There is something sickeningabout all advocacy: only pure admiration is real." --RichardFarr ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Canetti was a first-rate fragmentist
Call it gebrauchlit. Canetti's fragments are far more useful than all of the artsy-fartsy fiction that's prioritized for some dumb reason. I bitterly resent the fact that literature is fic-centric.

Canetti: "The French: they sit down for dinner as if for life everlasting."

But there's one thing I detest about Canetti: his pious admiration for Chinese writers. Which strikes me as a crock of phony-baloney fake-piety. The Chinese are so shallow, they couldn't even come up with a practical alphabet.

Canetti: "How often one is quick to revive grudges against those one has injured. Sensing the injustice of what one is doing, one justifies it with a dormant grievance from the past."

There's a running hatred-of-death in Canett's stuff. Obviously because he's not altogether convinced of the existence of a heavenly afterlife: "I know that everything is changing, and because I feel the ineluctable coming of the new, I turn to the old wherever I can find it. It might be that I just want to save and preserve it because I can't bear the passing of anything. But it could also be that I am testing it, to use against death, still unbeaten."

Canetti hates the possibility of reincarnation and so do I: "Wouldn't recurrence be even sadder than disappearance?"

Saul Bellow (whom I otherwise detest) used to speak possessively of the dead. To Saul they were "my dead". And I couldn't help but notice that Canetti indulged in the same shtick: "P. revolted me when he spoke of his spiritualist seances; he is convinced of an afterlife and wants to offer me these experiences and introduce me into his circle. But to me, my dead are sacred; I don't wish to find them again in a circle of strangers."

Here's a hilarious Canetti line that's straight from Beckettland: "I was nothing but a will; now I am a sound."

5-0 out of 5 stars collection of genius
I bought this book after reading only one notebook entry, browsing in the bookstore aisle.I have never regreted the decision.

It's a most fascinating and eclectic collection of thoughts and profound observations. I have never put the book down with the same vision as I picked it up. ... Read more

15. The Voices of Marrakesh: A Record of a Visit
by Elias Canetti
Paperback: 104 Pages (2002-09-01)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$6.63
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Asin: 0714525804
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize for Literature, Elias Canetti uncovers the secret life hidden beneath Marrakesh’s bewildering array of voices, gestures and faces. In a series of sharply etched scenes, he portrays the languages and cultures of the people who fill its bazaars, cafes, and streets. The book presents vivid images of daily life: the storytellers in the Djema el Fna, the armies of beggars ready to set upon the unwary, and the rituals of Moroccan family life. This is Marrakesh -described by one of Europe’s major literary intellects in an account lauded as "cosmopolitan in the tradition of Goethe" by the New York Times. "A unique travel book," according to John Bayley of the London Review of Books.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars Voyeur's Tenderness
This is, not surprisingly perhaps, yet another voyeur/flaneur version of exoticism. Canetti in this small book observes, intrudes, comments, walks, speaks French, gets frequently, guiltily and somewhat embarassingly excited by all the women he sees... and employs the gestures of a sympathetic, lonely walker who is trying to behave properly in a foreign country. He is sensitive when it comes to animals; when it comes to people, he sympathises with the paralysed, the crippled, the weak in the head. Somehow, through all this poeticised tenderness - and Canetti's writing (if not his life) is markedly tender - the reader may feel the writing is stifled and Marrakesh is presented as the city of the maimed. The vignettes are evocative and beautifully crafted all right, but there is something disquieting in the account.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very descriptive
I purchased and read this book while in Morocco and loved the descriptions of life in the streets.

5-0 out of 5 stars fresh, original and brilliantly written account
"The voices of Marrakesh. A Record of a Visit" is one of the sharpest and most original accounts of the life in the Moroccan city written by a tourist. The1981 Nobel Prize winner, and author of the famous "Auto da Fe", Elias Canetti, has described his impressions from the stay in Marrakesh. He was indeed a tourist, although the better word in his case might be "a visitor", and many of his observations are typical for such, but his language and style would make this slim book exciting anyway. His view makes the streets of Marrakesh interesting and mysterious, the camels have their own personal life, the donkeys accept their sad fate and the art of negotiation at the souk is a starting point for the divagations on the human nature.

There are, however, many chapters on not-so-touristically-obvious subjects. Canetti, being Jewish, was especially interested in the life of the Jewish minority and explored the Jewish quarter, which resulted in amazing observations, central to the book. His perception is acute and his opinion of people he encountered (he loved the native women!) are witty and deep at the same time. His voice is very fresh, the book does not sound like a guide, and one of the best points is that, despite his obvious fascination with his exotic surroundings, he can be very critical without being offensive and retaining the respect for the people he describes. His use of words is superb and the translation does not cause the loss of the flow and atmosphere he evoked.

Although written more than 50 years ago, "The Voices of Marrakesh"did not lose the charm and magnetizing quality.

4-0 out of 5 stars Marrakesh Resident Likes the Book
As a twelve-year foreign resident of Marrakesh, I read with interest this slim volume in about two hours.Before reading, I thought this was something written in the past 20 years.But I quickly discovered that the author's sejour in Morocco must have occurred in about 1959 (according to my Moroccan husband) due to certain events mentioned.(The book was first published in 1967.)

The book takes place in the time when Morocco was still part of the French Colonial Empire, and when the French had placed a "puppet" sultan on the throne.The author speaks of camel markets in Bab Khemis, the camels having walked in a train of 105 animals from the Western Sahara.Those not purchased by butchers (yes, for eating) in Marrakesh were to continue walking north to Settat, the end of the line for the camel trains (just outside of Casablanca).This must have been before trucking was the common method of transport.Occassional "blue men" of the Sahara could still be seen in Marrakesh.

This book will be of particular interest to any visitors of Moroccan Jewish origin who may be returning to visit the land of their parents.The author, we find out, is Jewish, and just happens to meet up with some members of the Jewish community.He gets pulled into their own little world (which no longer exists in Marrakesh, as most of that community emmigrated to Israel after 1967).He relates his experiences.

If you are thinking of traveling to Marrakesh, or anywhere in Morocco, this little book will open your eyes to the sights, sounds, and smells of the city.Much of the city has changed, but the atmosphere has remained the same.

5-0 out of 5 stars A vivid record of Marrakesh
"The Voices of Marrakesh," by Elias Canetti, has been translated from German by J.A. Underwood.The copyright page of the 2001 edition notes that both text and translation have a 1967 copyright date.The back cover notes that author Canetti was born in Bulgaria and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981.

"Voices," which is divided into 14 short chapters, is the first person account of a visit to the Moroccan city of the title.Canetti tells of encounters with and observations of camels, beggars, donkeys, merchants, and other inhabitants of the city.The book is a fascinating record of cross-cultural contact, and includes an intriguing view into the Mellah, the Jewish quarter of Marrakesh.

The book is full of vividly rendered scenes; Canetti really brings these people and animals to life on the page.The book also has a dark edge as he recounts the exploitative underside of the city.Literacy and linguistic difference are also key themes.

"Voices" is a short text (103 pages), but rich in mystery, tragedy, and wonder.As a companion text I recommend "The Jaguar Smile," by Salman Rushdie. ... Read more

16. Blind Reflections: Gender in Elias Canetti's Die Blendung (Studies in Austrian Literature, Culture, and Thought)
by Kristie A. Foell
Hardcover: 241 Pages (1994-01)
list price: US$33.50 -- used & new: US$4.99
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Asin: 0929497791
Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

1-0 out of 5 stars Angry Feminist Misses the Point
Angered by what she believes is Elias Cannetti's "coy treatment" of women in his writings, especially in Die Blendung (1935), Foell assails Canetti in her study, which is "highly personal" in its stimulus. Foell heavily relies on the beliefs of "gender theorists" Sigmund Freud, Karl Kraus, and especially Otto Weininger to support her comments about misogyny in Die Blendung. She also extensively theorizes about the psychoanalytic inferences she sees in Die Blendung, an extension of her arbitrary pronouncements on gender/sex in the novel. Foell, a college teacher of German, incomprehensibly assumes that all readers of her book know German as well as she does. Throughout Blind Reflections, Foell excessively quotes German without any translations, not only for short phrases but also for German passages that take up one third of a page. Overall, Foell's Blind Reflections too often is a work of over-authoritative, arbitrary pronouncements and interpretations, even admonitions to Canetti: Foell writes " ... an enlightened thinker like Canetti should have refrained from exploiting this stereotype." As this reviewer earlier has written, "Elias Canetti, for most American critics, presents numerous difficulties for adequate and accurate discussions." Resultantly, Foell in her study does little to explicate the enigmas of Canetti and his writings. Not recommended. ... Read more

17. The Worlds of Elias Canetti: Centenary Essays
by William Collins Donahue & Julian Preece
Hardcover: 295 Pages (2007-11-01)
list price: US$79.99 -- used & new: US$79.99
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Asin: 1847183522
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Though he died in the last decade of the twentieth century, the satirist, social thinker, memoirist, and dramatist Elias Canetti lives on into the present. Testifying to the author s undeniable culturalafterlife,the essays gathered together here represent a wide swath of the latest Canetti scholarship. Contributors examine Canetti s Jewish identity; the Marxist politics of his youth; his influence on writers as diverse as Bachmann, Jelinek, and Sebald; the undiscoveredpoetryof his literary testament (Nachlass); his status as a self-cancelling satirist; and his complex and sometimes ambivalent citation of Chinese and French cultural icons. In addition, this volume presents a treatment of Canetti as philosopher; as contributor to the great debate on the genesis of violence; as a chronicler of the WWII exile experience; as well as a personal reminiscence by one of the great Canetti scholars of our time, Gerald Stieg. The Worlds of Elias Canetti challenges conventional wisdom about this Nobel laureate and opens up new areas to scholarly investigation. ... Read more

18. Die Blendung.
by Elias Canetti
Hardcover: 512 Pages (1992-09-01)
-- used & new: US$31.99
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Asin: 3446170170
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19. Zu Elias Canetti (LGW-Interpretationen) (German Edition)
 Perfect Paperback: 184 Pages (1983)

Isbn: 3123978001
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20. Die Fackel im Ohr. Lebensgeschichte 1921 - 1931.
by Elias Canetti
Hardcover: 352 Pages (1993-08-01)
-- used & new: US$31.15
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Asin: 3446170235
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