Party in the Blitz: The English Years

December 8, 2020
Party in the Blitz: The English Years

Elias Canetti originally intended Party in the Blitz to capturean image of his time in post-war London. Well known throughoutEurope, Canetti scorned British intellectuals who weren’t familiarwith his work. By force of will alone he accumulated Englishfollowers, but not before being christened “the godmonster ofHampstead.” Canetti’s memories of various people in his socialcircle are brief and scathing brimstone sketches. T.S. Eliot, IrisMurdoch, Wittgenstein, Herbert Read, Bertrand Russell–Canetti rakesthem all over the coals. To Canetti, T.S. Eliot was nothing morethan an American emigrant trying desperately to act British, andCanetti’s portrayal of Iris Murdoch, with whom he had an affair, isnothing short of brutal. Michael Hofmann’s translation pulls nopunches, delivering the goods on Canetti’s searing injection: “whenyou write down your life, every page should contain something noone has ever heard about.”