By William Donahue
Nobel laureate Elias Canetti wrote his novel Auto-da-F©(Die Blendung) while he and the 20th century have been nonetheless fairly younger. Rooted within the cultural crises of the Weimar interval, Auto-da-F© first acquired severe acclaim abroad--in England, France, and the United States--where it keeps to fascinate readers of next generations. serious reactions have abounded, yet by no means has a accomplished research positioned this paintings in its cultural and philosophical contexts. the tip of Modernism seeks to do exactly that, situating the radical not just with regards to Canetti's enormous physique of social concept, but additionally inside of greater debates on Freud and Freudianism, misogyny and modernism's "fragmented subject," racial anti-Semitism and the failure of humanism, modern philosophy and philosophical fads, and traditionalist notions of literature and escapist conceptions of background. the top of Modernism portrays Auto-da-F© as an exemplum of "analytic modernism," and during this feel an important endpoint within the development of postwar conceptions of literary modernism.
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Additional info for The End of Modernism: Elias Canetti's Auto-da-fé
But] nothing had been foreseen. Explanations and speculation, even the boldest of prophesies, appeared like mere straw when measured against reality. ’’ 22 The interpretive strategy that views the novel as harbinger of Nazism fails therefore to persuade not only because it asks us to see Canetti as a fortune-teller (an assumption his autobiography clearly does not bear out), but also because it promotes the view of Kien as sympathetic victim. But the : destruction of Kien’s world is not so much lamented as celebrated in Autoda-Fé.
In the following scene, Fischerle, the hunchback dwarf Kien meets when he is evicted from his library-apartment, attempts to ingratiate himself by showing exaggerated concern for the professor’s unwieldy ‘‘mental library’’ (Kopfbibliothek). Before permitting this little man (Männchen) to take on this awesome responsibility, Kien inquires, as a standard precaution, whether this incorrigible thief has ever stolen. ’’ Fischerle saw through the trap and answered: ‘‘What would be the point of lying?
What this means, as I explain below in my discussion of philosophy, is that the novel engages the educated reader and observer of wider cultural trends, but does not seek to intervene in scholarly philosophical debates per se. Such an approach is frankly discouraged by the mode of the allusion to interwar trends and ﬁgures: typically parodistic, this referential practice is simply not amenable to what one might consider an ‘‘objective’’ or dispassionate scholarly discussion. 25 While I am keenly interested to note how Autoda-Fé engages the wider culture, and seek to permit the novel the freedom to direct my attention, I turn to those more expert than I in the areas I have identiﬁed above to demonstrate that the respective phenomenon under discussion is indeed a salient and signiﬁcant cultural feature of the interwar period independent of the novel.