Auto Da Fé Paperback – 23 Jun 2005
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"One of the few undoubted masterpieces of our time" (John Davenport)
"A mad, magnificent work" (Spectator)
"A strange, eloquent and terrifying book" (Polly Toynbee)
"The work of a remarkable talent" (Observer)
'Strange, savage, subtle, beautifully mysterious... one of the great novels of the [twentieth] century' - Iris MurdochSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The basic story centres around fiftysomething Peter Kien, a scholar of all things Oriental and bibliophile. He's insular, intellectual, virginal, never married, slightly misogynist, uptight, knowledgeable and alone. Peter has a huge library which means everything to him. He has a younger brother called George who's a psychologist who he hasn't seen for many years. After eight years in service his housekeeper Therese plots to marry Peter believing him extremely wealthy. She is poorly educated, cannot read well, also fifty but imagines herself thirty, money grapping, scheming and sour individual. After a single incident of brain manipulation by pretending to revere a book, they end up marrying. On the wedding night, wearing a fulsome blue dress (which keeps repeating in the story - a representation of the Virgin Mary?) she either actually or otherwise puts him off - they don't consummate the marriage and Peter realises his mistake. But too late - she controls, beats and schemes to get written in his will, take over Peter's flat etc. They both seem to enter periods of madness and deliberate misunderstandings (for example a key early one is that the wealth Therese imagines Peter has gets confused by Peter as an inheritance of Therese (to spend on more books)).Read more ›
I highly recommend this read!
Auto Da Fe overcame me, with all its ugliness and tragic comedy. From that summation this novel seems like some cheap thrill to exercise misanthropy, but the depth, focus, restraint (and occasional lack of) transform it from indulgence to a modern myth about delusion, sacrifice and belief. The inevitable and final release of Peter Kien is the most beautiful end to any story I have read, seen or heard. At the heart, there is great love for humanity, viewed through the harshest glass.
This story is complete, with all its cracks, and has been my bible for sometime.
Oh yeah, and it's fun. Do you hear that? Auto Da Fe is a fun book, like as fun as some moderate acts of arson.
Though I haven't read a lot, I have yet to read something as unimpeachable, or dare I say it, perfect.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A dark, hilarious and surreal book. The narcissistic solipsism of the characters is at once fantastic and frighteningly real. Read again and again.Published on 11 Jun. 2014 by William Lyons
You don't get the Nobel prize for nothing.
Elias won his in 1981.
This book and his tongue, eyes, ears trilogy are mainly what he got it for. Read more
Having read and admired some of Canetti's non-fiction, I found this novel bitterly disappointing. All the more so as the plot and its grotesque characters promise so much: a... Read morePublished on 4 Aug. 2011 by jacr100
Seems to be the marmite of books judging by the reviews! The first hundred pages or so of this novel are really interesting, where we are introduced to the world of the sinologist... Read morePublished on 17 Dec. 2010 by Odysseus
I still can't decide whether Auto Da Fe is the most nihilistic book I've ever read or one of the most humanistic. Read morePublished on 8 Feb. 2006 by Gerald Seeley
I have to agree with one of the other reviewers who bemoaned the quality of the translation of this book. Read morePublished on 21 Feb. 2005 by Depressaholic
Canetti won the nobel prize for literature in 1981, and Auto-Da-Fe was his only work of fiction. Expectations run high with a background like this. Read morePublished on 14 Feb. 2002