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"Dearest Georg": Love, Literature, and Power in Dark Times: The Letters of Elias, Veza, and Georges Canetti, 1933-1948 [Hardcover]

Vesa Canetti , Elias Canetti , Karen Lauer , Kristian Wachinger

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Book Description

Feb. 2 2010
In 1934, Veza Taubner and Elias Canetti were married in Vienna. Elias describes the arrangement to his brother Georges as a “functional” marriage. Meanwhile, an intense intellectual love affair develops between Veza and Georges, a young doctor suffering fromtuberculosis. Four years later, Veza and Elias flee Nazi-ruled Vienna to London, where they lead an impoverished and extremely complicated marital life in exile.
Spanning the major part of Elias’s struggle for literary recognition, from 1933, before the publication of his novel, Auto-da-Fé, to 1959, when he finished his monumental Crowds and Power, the Canetti letters provide an intimate look at these formative years through the prism of a veritable love triangle: the newly married Elias has a string of lovers; his wife, Veza, is hopelessly in love with an idealized image of his youngest brother, Georges; and Georges is drawn to good looking men as well as to his motherly sister-in-law. Independently and often secretly, the couple communicates with Georges, who lives in Paris: Veza tells of Elias’s amorous escapades and bouts of madness, Elias complains about Veza’s poor nerves and depression. Each of them worries about Georges’s health–if she could, Veza would kiss away the germs. Georges is an infrequent correspondent, but he diligently stores away the letters from his brother and sister-in-law. In 2003, long after his death, they were accidentally discovered in a Paris basement and comprise not only a moving and insightful document, but real literature.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (Feb. 2 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590512979
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590512975
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 15.2 x 5.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 621 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,232,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“In 2003, a large packet of letters was discovered accidentally in a steamer trunk in a Paris basement: they were written to Georges Canetti from his brother, Elias (1981 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature), and Elias’s wife, Veza, along with some of Georges’s letters to them. Appearing now for the first time in English in Dollenmayer’s splendid translation, the correspondence reveals a quite passionate relationship among the three…Although Elias has controlled his image through his memoirs, these letters offer a glaringly honest glimpse into this triangular relationship.”—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Elias Canetti (1905—1994), Bulgarian-born author of the novel Auto-da-Fé, the sociological study Crowds and Power, and three volumes of memoirs (The Tongue Set Free, The Torch in My Ear, and The Play of the Eyes), won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981. Canetti most recently made headlines with the posthumously published autobiographical notes on his years in England, Party in the Blitz: The English Years (New Directions, 2005).

Veza Canetti
(1897—1963), playwright, novelist, and short-story writer, was born in Vienna. After the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938, she and her husband, Elias Canetti, fled Vienna for London. She gained literary recognition only posthumously. She is the author of the novels Yellow Street and The Tortoises (New Directions, 2005).

David Dollenmayer
is Professor of German at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the author of The Berlin Novels of Alfred Döblin. He has translated works by Peter Stephan Jungk, Michael Kleeberg, Anna Mitgutsch, Perikles Monioudis, Mietek Pemper, and Moses Rosenkranz. He lives in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Canetti Lovers Dec 4 2010
By Brandon E Bourgeois - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is for any true Canetti fanatic. To my mind, Elias is figure of mythic stature and proportion. But this collection allows me to note his measurements from a much more realistic perspective. On the whole, it accomplishes the feat of allowing the reader to see these three figures as satellites of each other. Georg and Veza are no longer obscured satellites circling about Elias. They alternate in the role of the main planet; and at times the planets collide. One is allowed a glimpse into Elias' dependence upon the two and his indulgence in small--and sometimes great--betrayals, but the others are not wholly lacking in these characteristics either. They are, each of them, distinct planets in their own right who fed off contact with each other as if it were the only tangible nourishment: in their esteem of virtue and the life of the mind, they were some of the last private beings of learning, curiosity, passion, and dedication in the most recent great age of the intellectual.

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