Canetti and the Auto-da-fé of the Modern Reader

auto de feCanetti’s “Auto da fé” was an excruciating reading, a literally painful experience from beginning to end. Rewarding, for sure, but disturbing nevertheless and deeply unsettling. I have always believed in the right of a reader to simply toss a book away if the narrative would simply not get a grip on him.

In the case of Canetti’s novel, I had to resort to a form of unconscious trust in the perspicacity of the author. Like many readers, I came to know Canetti first and foremost through his opus magnus “Crowds and Power.” I had no expectations to find in the novel any diluted version of the sociological/political theories to which Canetti owes most of his fame, but I was somehow confident to find the same voice, the same insightful gaze. Instead, from the very inception of the novel, I was placed in the midst of a very dry and aseptic narrative landscape, where a man and a boy are engaged in an unusual conversation: Continue reading