115 years ago, on July 25, Elias Canetti was born in Ruse (then Rustchuk). 76 years later, in 1981, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature for “writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power”. Bulgaria then missed the event. The name of the writer was little known and only to a small circle of intellectuals. Canetti was “uncomfortable” to the Bulgarian communist government and his writings were banned because of his public support for Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov. “Inconvenient”, especially for totalitarian rule, is his most significant work “Crowds and Power”/ Masse und Macht”. A decade later we could have read Elias Canetti in Bulgarian and may appreciated the confession written by him, the European: “Anything I subsequently experienced had already happened in Rustchuk”. He says so, although he owes more to London, Vienna and Zurich. These cities are his “special urban deities,” as he calls them in his Nobel Prize speech. In his Nobel Prize speech, Canetti also paid tribute to Carl Klaus, Franz Kafka, Robert Musil and Hermann Broch. In this speech he concludes: “It would be impossible not to think about these four men. If they were still alive, I think one of them would be in my place. „Elias Canetti lived 89 years. He died in Zurich and was buried next to James Joyce.
Every Bulgarian with an interest in the higher levels of thought today has access to the Elias Canetti’s literary heritage. Also to Canetti’s messages that remain modern and effortlessly fit into the political, social and life situations of the 21st century. Founded in 1992, the International Elias Canetti Society has been looking for a new Nobel laureate nearly 30 years. He/she may not have been born in Ruse or Bulgaria, but may have read his author lines in the alternative space of Canetti House. This has been going on for 12 years during the Literary Festival. Elias Canetti Publishing House gives way Bulgarian readers to German-language authors. The Austrian Elias Canetti Library in Ruse is 15 years old already. Today it has a complete collection of works by and for the Nobel laureate. Some of the books are in 19 languages. They were donated by Dr. Thomas Franz Schneider from Basel, Switzerland.
On July 25 the General Assembly of the International Elias Canetti Society will celebrate the birth of its patron. The planned celebration with many guests and events for the 15th year of the Austrian Library – Ruse and the 115th of Elias Canetti birth was postponed for October due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hoping to happen to the end of 2020.