Party in the Blitz: The English Years

Michael Hofmann (Author) Elias Canetti (Author)
& 1 more


A stunning and unexpected new volume of Elias Canetti's autobiography. A surprise gift to celebrate the Nobel Laureate's 100th birthday.

Nobel Prize winner Elias Canetti, at 85, beset by the desire to come to terms with his years of exile in Britain, wrote Party in the Blitz. He waited half a century to confront these memories, perhaps because "in order to be truthful, I should have to track down every needless humiliation I was offered in England, and relive it as the torture it was." Party in the Blitz dissects that torture with unrestrained acerbity, recounting the ordeal of being in a new country where not a soul knew his writing. But not one to be ignored, "the godmonster of Hempstead" (as John Bayley dubbed Canetti) soon knew everyone and everyone knew him. Enoch Powell, Bertrand Russell, Iris Murdoch, Empson, Wittgenstein, Kokoshka, Kathleen Raine, Henry Moore, Ralph Vaughn Williams: Canetti knew them all, and in Party in the Blitz he mercilessly rakes some of them over the coals. He detested T.S. Eliot and came to bitterly despise Iris Murdoch, with whom he had an affair: Every word of his devastating portrait of her quivers with rage. "He must have been a frequent party-goer," as Jeremy Adler remarks in his excellent afterword, "to judge by the well-informed distaste with which he recalls them." Gorgeously translated by Michael Hofmann, Party in the Blitz lives up to Canetti's injunction that "when you write down your life, every page should contain something no one has ever heard about."

Product Details

New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
September 17, 2005
5.76 X 0.99 X 8.28 inches | 1.01 pounds
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About the Author

Michael Hofmann is a poet and frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review, and is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost translators of works from German to English. His original poetry collections include One Lark, One Horse and Where Have You Been? He has translated Willy Peter Reese's A Stranger to Myself, Joseph Roth's The Tale of the 1002nd Night, Herta Muller's The Land of the Green Plums, and Gottfried Benn's Impromptus. Hofman lives in London.
Elias Canetti (1905-94) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981. His writings include a monumental work of social theory, Crowds and Power, and three volumes of memoirs, The Tongue Set Free, The Torch in My Ear, and The Play of the Eyes.

Jeremy Adler is Professor of German at King's College London and specializes ininterdisciplinary subjects such as literature and science, poetry and painting, literature and anthropology.


"[Canetti is] someone who has felt in a profound way the responsibility of words. There is no doctrine, but there is a great deal of scorn, urgency, grief, and euphoria. The message of the mind's passion is passion. 'I try to imagine someone saying to Shakespeare, "Relax!"' says Canetti. His work eloquently defends tension, exertion, moral and amoral seriousness."