The Schmooze

The Overachieving Family Canetti

In some Jewish families, the least admirable member may be the one who wins a Nobel Prize. This is one conclusion to be drawn from the recent publication by Other Press of “Dearest Georg: Love, Literature, and Power in Dark Times; The Letters of Elias, Veza, and Georges Canetti, 1933-1948.”

The Bulgarian-born Sephardic Jewish author Elias Canetti won a 1981 Nobel Prize for his socially and politically aware titles, such as “Auto-da-Fé” and “Crowds and Power.”

Canetti’s caustic memoir “Party in the Blitz: the English Years,” from New Directions, appalled some critics with its hostility to Iris Murdoch, with whom Canetti had an affair, and T. S. Eliot, with whom he did not. Yet nothing brings us emotionally closer to this writer than the letters of his Viennese Jewish first wife Veza, whose missives comprise most of the Other Press collection.

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The Overachieving Family Canetti

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