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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful: A High Point of 20th Century Literature, 19 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Memoirs of Elias Canetti (Hardcover)
I'm at a loss to convey how great this book is. I think anyone who enjoys literature and fine writing should read it. Canetti was one of the leading writers and intellectuals of the 20th century, and he brings all his formidable talent and insight to this work.
The biography is excellent on many levels. First, it works as a simple biography. Canetti led a very interesting life, and he does an excellent job presenting the important events and influences that shaped him. Because of this, it is a required read for anyone who has enjoyed his other major works (_Auto Da Fe_ and _Crowds and Power_.)
Second, it is great literature. Canetti was an excellent writer, clear and lucid without being bland, with a wonderful ability to see and present the fundamental elements of individuals. His memoirs are full of rich and fascinating characters, which Canetti is able to present either in a few quick strokes or in full detail, depending on their role in his life.
Third, it is a fascinating record of the time. Canetti came of age during and after WWI, and spent much of his early adulthood in the intellectual turmoil of interwar Vienna. Canetti focuses mainly on the intellectual life, describing his interactions with Robert Musil, Bertolt Brecht, Hermann Broch, Karl Kraus, Isaac Babel, and others. Inevitably, though, the memoirs also give some details of everyday existence in central Europe during this chaotic period.
The memoir is not told as a single continuous narrative. Instead, the book gives a series of vivid incidents and characters, the things that Canetti remembered about his life. Because of this, his memoir has a universally high level of power and detail, without long flat stretches of filler. It was his autobiography that finally generated enough support for Canetti to be awarded the Nobel Prize. In my opinion it is is best, most accessible work, and one which can stand with the greatest of 20th century literature.
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The Memoirs of Elias Canetti
The Memoirs of Elias Canetti by Elias Canetti (Hardcover - 16 Sep 1999)
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