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Canetti, Elias

Born:
July 25, 1905
Dead:
August 14, 1994

The prose writer and playwright Elias Canetti was born in the city of Rustchuk (or Ruse) in Bulgaria. His father, who was a wealthy grain dealer, came from a family of Sephardic Jews who had been expelled from Spain in the 15th century, and the son's first language became ladino, an ancient form of Spanish with elements of Hebrew. Later he also learnt Bulgarian, English, French, and German, which became the language in which he wrote. His childhood and adolescence was not only multilingual but also multicultural – after the time in the motley Bulgarian environment, the family moved to Manchester. When Elias Canetti was seven years old, his father died suddenly, and he would then live and go to school among other things in Zurich and Frankfurt. In 1924, he began studying chemistry at the university in Vienna. He obtained his doctoral degree in 1929 and then became a freelance writer and translator. At the occasion of the German annexation of Austria in 1938, he fled to Paris and a year later to London, where lived for the rest of his life. However, periodically he also lived in Zurich, where he died. Among his literary honors, the Georg Büchner Prize in 1972 and the Nobel Prize in 1981 can be mentioned.

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