Elias Canetti

Elias Canetti, Nobel prize winner in Literature was born in Ruse, a small port in Bulgaria on the Danube river, into Sephardic Jewish family. The family were well-to-do merchants, who spoke old Spanish. German was the fourth language Canetti acquired – after Ladino, also known as Judaeo-Spanish, Bulgarian, and English. He eventually chose to write in German and retained a lasting love of German culture. When Canetti was six, his family moved to Manchester, England. After the sudden death of his father, his mother took the family to Vienna, where he learned German. With the outbreak of World War Two, he was forced to flee from the Nazis.

His most important works, all written in German, are the novel Auto-da-Fé (1935, tr. 1946), a searing picture of a man as degraded and evil, and Crowds and Power (1960, tr. 1962), a study of mass psychology. He also wrote plays, autobiographical works, essays, and a study of Kafka. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981.