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4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,643 Ratings  ·  199 Reviews
"Auto-da-Fé" is the story of Peter Kien, a distinguished, reclusive sinologist living in Germany between the wars. With masterly precision, Canetti reveals Kien's character, displaying the flawed personal relationships which ultimately lead to his destruction.

Manipulated by his illiterate and grasping housekeeper, Therese, who has tricked him into marriage, and Benedikt Pf
Paperback, 464 pages
Published December 1st 1984 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1935)
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The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Best Books of the Decade: 1930s
154th out of 455 books — 768 voters
The Man Without Qualities by Robert MusilThe Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria RilkeThe Trial by Franz KafkaThe Lord Chandos Letter by Hugo von HofmannsthalDie Dämonen by Heimito von Doderer
Best Austrian Literature
39th out of 224 books — 123 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petar X
Two in a two days! This book was also removed from my books. It was substituted with Auto Da Fe: Cronache in Due Tempi a book in Italian. See msg 6 for the probable explanation.

This one, the Canetti one, I read years ago. It was a difficult, depressing and extremely bizarre book. Of course I loved the book because Peter Klein (the 'hero') loves books beyond all else. Kindred spirits almost (view spoiler).

The other book that mine got substitute
Vit Babenco
Jun 04, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
“A bookseller is a king, and a king cannot be a bookseller.”
Can one carry along a huge library in one's head? The protagonist of Auto-da-Fé surely can.
And when the abstract intellect collides with the dull routine of reality both become shattered into nothingness.
This grand cynically modernistic novel easily comes among my top ten of favourites in literature.
If one’s consciousness is in conflict with reality what should be changed: one’s consciousness or reality?
“Blindness is a weapon against t
Stephen P
Oct 09, 2015 Stephen P rated it it was amazing
A choice. Numberless made within the ordinary mayhem of a day. A person makes choices from the beginning to the end -scheme of their life. Peter Kien wants to spend the passing of his time, supported from the inheritance of his father's death, within the library of his own creation. Books instead of people. Facts and theories devised by those ideas argued by the greatest Sinologist in the world, himself. Life is to be defined by knowledge and study. While no one but his housekeeper sees or knows ...more
Mar 05, 2016 Simona rated it it was amazing
Dopo un inizio difficile in cui questo libro non decollava, mi fa piacere aver preso il volo e aver viaggiato.
Cercando alcune notizie sul'autore, ho scoperto che il titolo originale del libro è "Abbagliamento", titolo che avrei mantenuto anche nella versione italiana, dato che descrive benissimo la sua essenza.
I protagonisti di questo libro sono "abbagliati", come accecati da quello che vivono o meglio non vivono, come Thérese, la governante, un essere torbido, meschino, avido di denaro, fino
Feb 24, 2016 Teresa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Na contra capa da minha edição diz, mais ou menos, assim:
Auto-De-Fé é considerado um dos livros fundamentais da história da literatura ocidental e ler a obra de Elias Canetti é essencial para compreendermos a história do século XX.

Eu, com cerca de metade lido (e mais umas páginas em diagonal) digo assim:
Já estou lixada! Como Canetti me aborrece lá se vai qualquer réstia de esperança de compreender o século...

Um homem obcecado por livros (mas não sei se lê); casa com uma mulher para que ela lhe
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 07, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 500 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Elias Canetti (1905-1994), a Bulgarian novelist and playwright, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981. He wrote several plays, a memoir in trilogy, several non-fiction works but only one novel, Auto-da-Fe. The way this is written, the term auto-da-fe must be Portuguese and it means the execution of non-believers during the Portuguese inquisition.

However, Canetti wrote the novel in German and was first published in 1935. It is set in the decaying, cosmopolitan Vienna, where the young Canetti
Nov 25, 2008 Nate rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone brave enough and wanting to be profoundly disturbed
Recommended to Nate by: Dr. Goebel at the University fo Goettingen
Canetti is my god. I hung on every word he ever wrote for most of college and then some. His one novel, this book, is probably the most deeply disturbing novel I have ever set hands on. A masterpiece of modern literature, placing Canetti among the great western writers of the 20th century, this is the story of Peter Kien, the book man. Originally Cannetti set out to write a "Comedie Humaine an Irren" with this being the first installment, ala Balzac but about insane people (he lived across the s ...more
“Almost Kien was tempted to believe in happiness, that contemptible life-goal of illiterates. If it came of itself, without being hunted for, if you did not hold it fast by force and treated it with a certain condescension, it was permissible to endure its presence for a few days”
There could be nothing better than a book about someone, or a 'hero' like Peter Kien, that loves books. Moreover, Auto-da-Fé is one of Elias Canetti's masterpiece. Kien knows what he wants from life: to spend his life
Jul 20, 2014 Joshua rated it liked it
If you are 300 pages into this novel, keep reading, it gets better, much better. If you are thinking of starting this novel today, think carefully and know that you do not have my recommendation. I struggled quite a bit with this book. The three star rating is a compromise between the 1 and 2 star rating I was certain I would give this book until about page 380 (after which we are clearly in at least 4 star territory) when I finally encountered some lyricism in Canetti's prose, a likable charact ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Since you are at, you're most likely a bookworm (unless you're one of the thousands of juveniles here who pretend they like to read only to get to know people they can hook up with). But how bookworm of a bookworm are you? If you're at least the type who would feel sad leaving a bookstore without getting to buy a book, then reading this novel would, at times, be just like staring at a mirror. You can see you here.

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981, Elias Canetti, a Ger
Mar 10, 2008 Jenne rated it did not like it
Shelves: didnt-finish
Basically the complete opposite of what I enjoy in a novel.
But then I haven't won a Nobel Prize for Literature, have I.
Lorenzo Berardi
A man loves his library.
In his opinion books are better than men.
How it can be denied reading this novel?

Auto-da-fe is like a cage: it doesn't give you any possibility of escape, it hurts you. It's like an abyss in which all that begins ironically becomes dramatic.

"For what happens in that kind of book is not just a game, it is reality; one has to justify it, not only against criticism from outside but in one’s own eyes as well. Even if an immense fear has compelled one to write such things, one must still ask oneself whether in so doing one has not helped to bring about what one so vastly fears." - Elias Canetti, The Play of the Eyes

The author shakes you with the first scene in the book, one of the best openings of any novel that I've ever read. And he
Joel Palma
Move over "The Tin Drum"! "Auto da Fé" is my new favorite "dark- bizaare- extremely funny- cruel- stupendous" kind of read masterpiece!!!

This work by Canetti which deservedly added to my "best of the best" book list, is one of the most beautifully (not to mention the haughtiest) written works of fiction I've ever read!!!

Not since reading "Ulysses" did I experience "moments of duress" reading a weighty tome... The only difference is that I gave myself a second chance to finish (and enjoy, of cour
The thickest (4 inches) and heaviest (12.5 pounds) book in my library, Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, defines the word Auto-da-fé as follows:

the ceremony for accompanying the pronouncement of judgment by the Inquisition and followed by the execution of sentence by secular authorities; esp: the burning of a person condemned as a heretic or of writings condemned as heretical

I've been thinking for a while about this title, and compared it with the one of the o
May 05, 2014 Ginny_1807 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romanzi, con_cristina
Grandioso crudele ritratto della umana piccolezza, dell'incomunicabilità e della solitudine a cui è destinato l'individuo, imbevuto di stupida presunzione e contaminato dall'avidità e dal vizio.

Pur trovandolo geniale per ricchezza inventiva e comico in molti passaggi di caustico umorismo, il romanzo mi è risultato difficoltoso da portare avanti, forse per la fitta rete di eventi paradossali, ossessive fissazioni, interminabili equivoci che alla lunga ho trovato snervanti.
Anche i personaggi sono
Ksenia Ada Tanyeli
Yalnızlığından zevk alan, içe dönük ve gözlerden uzak yaşayan insanlar bile, yüreğinin bir köşesinde 'insanlara daha yakın' olmayı arzu eder... Hikayenin kahramanı da yüreğinin bir parçasını bir başka insana açmaya karar verdiğinde, hayatının kalanını birlikte yaşayacak insanı bulduğunu düşünüyordu.

Ancak, hizmetçisiyle evlendikten sonra aralarında gelişen olaylar, onları derin bir anlaşmazlığa sürüklüyor ve bir süre sonra, birbirlerini anlamamaya başlayan çift, birbirlerini anlamak istemeyen bir
Aug 12, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
This book is bizarre. It’s like a Grimm’s fairy tale with insane characters, or a cautionary tale with a moral that’s not a moral because it’s so nihilistic. This, Canetti seems to be saying, is what happens if an intellectual dissociates from the real world and hears no voice other than his own. He becomes dogmatic and he falls victim to the venality of the ignorant. It’s sobering reading.
To see my review (more of a summary really, as best I understood the book) please visit http://anzlitlovers
Mar 18, 2011 Bookmaniac70 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Тази книга ме зашемети още от първите страници. Никак не ми беше лесна за четене, но интелектуалното удоволствие беше много голямо. Всеки от героите е така потопен в своята реалност, в своите мисли и специфичната си езикова ниша,че човек трябва да чете внимателно, за да открие всички нишки,полутонове и сенки. Образите са трагични и зловещи,безнадеждно заплетени в своите заблуди и убеждения. Не усетих обаче книгата като потискаща, не знам как го е постигнал авторът. В първата половина ме изненада ...more
Apr 25, 2007 Conrad marked it as to-read
I can't think of a novel that I have abandoned with a worse impression of the author. Cannetti was reportedly a royal prick, a backstabbing, misogynistic troll, and nothing in the first pages this book does anything to dispel any of it. Maybe I'll get around to it, but I doubt it - it's too unpleasant.
Jan 23, 2008 Rupert rated it it was amazing
Insane and brilliant. And of course the starting premise of an obsessive bibliophile who hires an illiterate housekeeper to watch over his collection is pure candy to a decrepit used bookseller such as myself. Although written in the '30s this still feels like cutting edge visionary fiction.
Emilian Kasemi
Sep 24, 2014 Emilian Kasemi rated it really liked it
Shelves: mitteleuropa
I know Auto-da-Fe deserves much more but I just wasn't in the right mood for this book at the moment. Still it is a great book and even if I don't recommend it to everyone, it should be read by book lovers.

Auto da Fé was originally published as Die Blendung in 1935 and was translated in 1946 by C.V. Wedgwood (Dame Cicely Veronica Wedgwood) and was translated 'under the personal supervision of the author'. A more literal translation would be, I believe, The Blinding. Auto da Fé refers to the burning of heretics by the Spanish and Portuguese inquisition. I first read this book about twenty years ago and have been meaning to re-read it for years.

The book is split into three parts: A Head Without a Wo
Aug 16, 2015 Jennyb rated it did not like it
High-minded reviewers will tell you that Canetti's novel is about the modern-condition, maybe even throw in that it's an indictment thereof. Slightly more pedestrian readers might say it's about the battle between our higher aspirations for learning and our baser human desires. I am here to tell you that, for most of this book's torturous and ample length, it is about hate, plain and simple. Canetti's characters have short bursts of fanatical devotion (to books and chess), and long stretches of ...more
Dec 18, 2012 Eirin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-finished, 2012
[DISCLAIMER: The two stars I'm giving this book does not reflect the quality of the work, but my experience of it. I wish there was an additional star or something, for books that you can see are good, but just does not suit your tastes.]

I could not finish it. I've been trudging through it since August, it is now December, and I've only gotten halfway. The first hundred pages I liked, and read quickly. After that however, it just got harder and harder to summon up the will to read. Every time I
Apr 30, 2013 Olivia rated it it was amazing
The absurdity of man. A theme which has been emptied onto thousands and thousands of pages by just as many authors. And to this day, the one book I've read which has given me the most haunting and darkly humorous experience of it, is Auto-da-Fé.

This book is bizarre. At some parts, the misanthropic bibliophile and main character Peter Kien read almost like a parody of myself. This was both funny and frightening, much like the rest of the book. There is a continuous tug of war going on in the psy
Jun 17, 2014 lisa_emily rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: sadists
Recommended to lisa_emily by: a sadist obviously
Shelves: 1001-books
I read this book a few years ago and while I was reading it I was thinking- why read this? I rather disliked it- reading it was torture. I understand that it being published in 1935, that it is an allegory of the irrationality and violence that overcame Europe between the two world wars. However now, the minute parade of grotesqueries is excessive. It is also perhaps the only book I know where the repulsion and malice the author has for his characters and for his work is so pulsatingly palpable. ...more
Valentina Accardi
May 21, 2016 Valentina Accardi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Se la prima parte l'ho letta tranquillamente, la seconda è stata una gran fatica. La terza, invece, molto più scorrevole. Bisogna superare lo scoglio centrale, praticamente.
È indubbiamente un libro abbastanza difficile, credo ci siano tante metafore da decifrare, molte delle quali forse non ho nemmeno colto. Però il piccolo saggio finale scritto dall'autore stesso fa capire tante cose anche sulla genesi del libro e sul significato dei personaggi. Devo comunque documentarmi un po' meglio.
È stato
Mohsen Rajabi
Dec 18, 2013 Mohsen Rajabi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
کیفر آتش، فوق العاده است. همه چیزهایی که در یک داستان دنبالش می گردیم را دارد. روند داستانی اش فوق العاده است، و شخصیت پردازی هایش کم نقص و مسلما بی نظیر (من تا به حال شخصیت پردازی ای مانند این کتاب ندیدم- سبک خیلی خاصی داشت). شخصیت هایی که تعدادشان اندک است، اما نویسنده به اندازه هر شخصیت یک دنیای جدیدی خلق کرده- انگار اینها هیچ کدام در کنار یکدیگر زندگی نمی کنند.

از طرفی دیگر، کیفر آتش، در اصل داستان کتاب هاست... داستان کتاب ها و توهمی که ایجاد می شود. امان از این توهم. مطمئنا نفس شما هم بند خو
Bianca Cataldi
Jul 09, 2016 Bianca Cataldi rated it really liked it
Questo è un libro che è facile fraintendere e per il quale è ancora più semplice indignarsi. Forse l'unico modo per comprenderlo davvero è aver letto precedentemente l'autobiografia del suo autore: solo così, infatti, diventano chiari i meccanismi che lo sostengono, la misoginia che sembra esserne il filo conduttore, la natura stessa di Peter Kien. È un romanzo che ha avuto una lunga gestazione e che affonda le sue radici nella storia stessa di Canetti, nei suoi rapporti con le donne (da Veza ad ...more
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Awarded the 1981 Nobel Prize in Literature "for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power."

He studied in Vienna. Before World War II he moved with his wife Veza to England and stayed there for long time. Since late 1960s he lived in London and Zurich. In late 1980s he started to live in Zurich permanently. He died in 1994 in Zurich.

Author of Auto-da-Fé, Party in the
More about Elias Canetti...

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“Understanding, as we understand it, is misunderstanding.” 23 likes
“Almost Kien was tempted to believe in happiness, that contemptible life-goal of illiterates. If it came of itself, without being hunted for, if you did not hold it fast by force and treated it with a certain condescension, it was permissible to endure its presence for a few days” 12 likes
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