Elias Canetti: Nobel Prize Winner, Bulgarian Sephardic Jew

10/06/2020

Did you know that in 1981 the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature was Elias Canetti, a Sephardic Jew from Bulgaria?

Bulgarian stamp celebrating the 100th Birthday of Elias Canetti

The winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Literature was Elias Canetti, a Sephardic Jew from Bulgaria

Canetti, whose native tongue was Judeo-Spanish or Ladino, was born in the Danube city of Ruse in 1905 but grew up in Austria, from where he moved to England in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution.

He reflected the experiences of Nazi Germany and political chaos in his works, especially exploring mob action and group thinking in his novel Auto-da-Fé (1935) and non-fiction Crowds and Power (1960). He wrote several volumes of memoirs, contemplating the influence of his multi-lingual background and childhood.

For the last 20 years of his life he settled in Zürich where he passed away in 1994.