Elias Canetti (kənĕt´ē), 1905–94, English novelist and essayist, b. Ruschuk (now Ruse), Bulgaria. He came from a Sephardic Jewish background, spent most of his early years in Vienna, and, fleeing Nazism, emigrated to England in 1939 just before the outbreak of World War II. His most important works, all written in German, are the novel Auto-da-Fé (1935, tr. 1946), a searing picture of a man who is obsessive, degraded, and evil, and Crowds and Power (1960, tr. 1962), a study of mass psychology. He also wrote plays, autobiographical works, essays, and a study of Kafka. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981.
See his reminiscences: The Tongue Set Free (1977, tr. 1979), The Torch in My Ear (1980, tr. 1982), The Play of the Eyes (1985, tr. 1986), and the unfinished and posthumously published Party in the Blitz (2003, tr. 2005); his notebooks (1998); study by R. Lawson (1991).