Books: Laurels for an Obscure Wanderer

Widely praised but little known, Elias Canetti cops the Nobel

A more ideal recipient of the 1981 Nobel Prize for Literature than Elias Canetti, 76, would have to be invented. When the Bulgarian-born novelist, play wright and essayist, with his Einsteinian white mane and mustache, arrives in Stockholm on Dec. 10 to claim the $180,000 award, he will precisely fit the Swedish Academy's taste in laureates. Canetti's sensibilities, like those of last year's winner, Polish Poet Czeslaw Milosz, are survivors of Europe's prewar culture. A poly lingual resident of England, who writes exclusively in...

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