Elias Canetti, who has written great essays on literature and famously caustic memories of his literary peers, always kept diaries and notebooks which included spontaneous observations on historical and contemporary writers, role models and enemies. Canetti's judgement was never well-balanced but fierce and to the point: "He consumed what he admired and spit out what he detested", writes Peter von Matt.
This book is not only about individual writers but also about "writers" as a species and about writing in general: "Some protagonists of novels are so overpowering that they hold their author captive and throttle him." From Aristophanes to Dante and Cervantes, from Goethe to Stendhal and Büchner, from Flaubert to Kafka and Robert Walser – this is the personal literary history of a keen observer and visionary.
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