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Auto Da Fe is the story of Peter Kien, a distinguished, reclusive silogist living in Germany between the wars. With masterly precision, Canetti reveals Kien's character, displaying the flawed personal relationships which ultimately lead to his destruction. Manipulated by his illiterate and grasping housekeeper, Therese, who has tricked him into marriage, and Benedikt Pfaff, a brutish concierge, Kien is forced out of his apartment - which houses his great library and one true passion - and into the underworld of the city. In this purgatory he is guided by a chess-playing dwarf of evil propensities, until he is eventually restored to his home. But on his return he is visited by his brother, an eminent psychiatrist who, by an error of diagsis, precipitates the final crisis...Auto Da Fe was first published in Germany in 1935 as Die Blendung (The Blinding or Bedazzlement) and later in Britain in 1947, where the publisher ted Canetti as a 'writer of strongly individual genius, which may prove influential', an observation borne out when the author was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981. Auto Da Fe still towers as one of the greatest vels of the twentieth century, and Canetti's incisive vision of an insular man battling agianst the outside world is as fresh and rewarding today as when first it appeared in print.
Elias Canetti (1905-1994) born of Spanish-Jews parents, lived in in Vienna until 1937 and spent much of his working life in Britain during and after the war. He became a British citizen in 1952 but wrote in German, the language of his childhood and youth spent in Vienna, Zurich and Frankfurt.