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Canetti, Elias

Born: 1905 AD
Died: 1994 AD
Nationality: Bulgarian
Categories: Novelists, Playwrights

1905 – He was born on the 25th of July this year in Ruse, a small port in Bulgaria on the river Danube. His ancestors were Sephardi Jews who had been expelled from Spain in 1492. The original family name was Cañete, named after a village in Spain. Elias spent his childhood years, from 1905 to 1911, in Rustschuk until the family moved to England.


1912 – His father died suddently, and his mother moved with their children to Vienna in the same year. By this time Canetti already spoke Ladino (his mother tongue), Bulgarian, English and some French (he studied the latter two in the one year in England).


1916 – His mother insisted that he speak German, and she taught it to him. Subsequently this year, the family moved first to Zurich and stayed until 1921.


1924 – Canetti graduated high school in Germany. Canetti went back to Vienna in this year in order to study chemistry. However, his most important interests during his years in Vienna became philosophy and literature.


1928 – During a visit to Berlin in this year, he met Bertolt Brecht, Isaak Babel, and George Grosz, and started to plan a series of novels on the subject of human madness. The idea resulted in the novel DIE BLENDUNGEN, (translations into English in 1947 and 1964), which was well received after WW II among others by Thomas Mann and Iris Murdoch, and considered to have been ahead of its time.


1929 – Introduced into the literary circles of first-republic-Vienna, he started writing. He gained a degree in chemistry from the University of Vienna in this year, but never worked as a chemist.


1930 – In this year, he wrote two plays, DIE HOCHZEIT (The Wedding), a comedy of manners, and DIE KOMÖDIE DER EITELKEIT, forerunners of the theater of the absurd. DIE BEFRISTETEN, produced in Vienna in 1967, asked the question what happens if one knows the exact date of ones death.


1934 – Canetti married Veza Taubner-Calderón, who died in 1963.


1938 – After the Anschluss of Austria to greater Germany, Canetti moved to London where he became closely involved with the painter Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, who was to remain a close companion for many years to come. His name has also been linked with that of the author Iris Murdoch.


1952 – He received his British citizenship in this year. For his last 20 years, Canetti predominantly lived in Zurich.


1970 – Despite being a German writer, Canetti settled and stayed in England until this year.


1981- He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in this year.


1994 – He passed away at age 89 on the 14th of August of this year.