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Elias Canetti

Born: 25-Jul-1905
Birthplace: Rustschuk, Bulgaria
Died: 14-Aug-1994
Location of death: Zürich, Switzerland
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Fluntern Cemetery, Zürich, Switzerland

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Author, Playwright

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Crowds and Power

Elias Canetti won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981, and remains one of the more obscure writers to win that honor. Trained as a chemist, he never touched a beaker after earning his degree, and to ensure his privacy he kept his diaries in an enigmatic code that made little sense to anyone but himself. He was raised in a family of Sephardic Jews, and his first language was Ladino, a regional variant of Spanish, which he spoke as an infant in Bulgaria. His family moved to England when he was about six years old, and to Vienna a few years later, after his father's death. Canetti finished his schooling in Switzerland and Germany, then fled to France after Hitler took power. He later he settled in England, where he became a citizen. Early in his career he translated Upton Sinclair into German.

Canetti compiled a complex oeuvre of novels, plays, short stories, essays, and non-fiction, including four books of his memoirs, all written in German. His most popular book is Die Blendung, published most often in English as Auto-da-Fé, in which the protagonist, a college professor, has no knowledge of the world beyond his huge library. More critically acclaimed is his Masse und Macht (Crowds and Power), a cryptic examination of crowd psychology ranging from ancient Rome to soccer fans to warfare, comparing crowds to a raging fire, a vast sea, and an unyielding forest, and further analyzing imaginary crowds of angels, devils, and spirits. After winning his Nobel Prize, Canetti lived the rest of his life in seclusion.

His brother, Georges Canetti, was a microbiologist who first described a pathogen that causes a strain of tuberculosis, which was later named Mycobacterium canetti in his honor. His other brother, Nissim Canetti, was a stage producer who worked frequently with Yves Montand.

Father: Jacques Canetti (merchant, d. 1912 heart attack)
Mother: Mathilde Arditti Canetti
Brother: Nissim Jacques Canetti (stage producer, b. 1909, d. 1997)
Brother: Georges (microbiologist, b. 1911, d. 1971)
Wife: Veza Taubner-Calderon (m. 1934, d. 1963)
Wife: Hera Buschor (m. 1971)
Mistress: Marie-Louise Von Motesiczky (artist)
Mistress: Iris Murdoch (writer)

    High School: Frankfurt Gymnasium, Frankfurt, Germany (1924)
    University: PhD Chemistry, University of Vienna (1929)

    Georg Büchner Prize 1973
    Nobel Prize for Literature 1981
    Naturalized UK Citizen 1952
    Jewish Ancestry
    Spanish Ancestry
    Turkish Ancestry

Author of books:
Die Blendung (variously The Tower of Babel, Auto-da-Fé, and The Dazzlement) (1935)
Masse und Macht (Crowds and Power) (1960)
Aufzeichnungen 1942-48 (Sketches) (1965)
Die Stimmen von Marrakesch (The Voices of Marrakesh) (1968)
Kafka's Briefe an Felice (Kafka's Other Trial) (1969)
Die Provinz des Menschen (The Human Province) (1973)
Der Ohrenzeuge: Funfzig Charaktere (Earwitness: Fifty Characters) (1974)
Das Gewissen der Wort (The Conscience of Words) (1975, non-fiction)
Die gerettete Zunge. Geschichte einer Jugend (The Tongue Set Free) (1977, memoirs)
Die Fackel im Ohr (The Torch in My Ear) (1980, memoirs)
Das Augenspiel (The Play of the Eyes) (1985, memoirs)
Das Geheimhen der Uhr (The Secret Heart of the Clock) (1987)
Die Fliegenpein (The Agony of Flies) (1992)
Achträge aus Hampstead (Notes from Hampstead) (1994)
Party im Blitz (Party in the Blitz) (2003, memoir, published posthumously)

Wrote plays:
Hochzeit (trans. The Marriage) (1932)
Komodie der Eitelkeit (The Comedy of Vanity) (1934)
Die Befristeten (The Numbered) (1956)


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