17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Auto Da Fé (Paperback)
Elias Canetti's Auto Da Fe is a fairly disturbing piece of literature. The most obvious theme is madness but delusion and isloation are also key factors. The protagonist is Professor Kien, a reclusive sociopath who although being a sensitive soul has no abilty to understand and relate to people. Although he is a misanthrope by nature there are touching moments when he considers people his friends and is temporarily relieved of his instinctive malevolence. In a moment of lunacy he weds his maid, a simple minded reactonary who largely causes his demise. We see him go from being independant and wholly immersed in his studies to being thrown out of his own home. He comes to rely on the minipulative dwarf; Fischerle, who suffers from delusions of grandeur and although robbing poor Kien blind does enlist the professor's brother to try and help him. The other character of note is the violence obsessed fascist Bennedikt Pfaff who is totally unable to relate to people without using his fists. Published in 1935 it tells of people who cannot empathise and cannot see the error of their ways. For Canetti, a jew living in Vienna, the outlook was not a pleasant one and the sense of impending doom is portrayed eloquently and with imagery that draws you in to the gloomy lives of its characters. The narrative is lucid and weaves in and out of the characters thoughts with subtlety and precision. I thoroughly recommend this book, the first fifty pages are the most difficult but persevere and you will be rewarded.