THE AGONY OF FLIES: Notes and Notations by Elias Canetti

THE AGONY OF FLIES: Notes and Notations

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This collection of fragments by Nobel Prize -- winner Canetti raises the vexing question: Is an aphorism merely the printed analogue of a sound bite? Canetti, who won the prize on the strength of his novel, Auto-da-FÉ (not reviewed), and his sociological study, Crowds and Power (not reviewed), has since then written in ever smaller portions. Much of this has to do with Canetti's intense distrust of systematic thought, which makes sense in a man who witnessed the ideological excesses of 20th-century Europe. Most of the shards collected here read like diary entries ripped prematurely from their notebooks: ""A man one knows only at daybreak""; ""He hearkens in cosmic space to ultimate thoughts."" Perhaps there is a monkish purity in such brevity -- an old man shedding useless trappings as he approaches a knowledge of what does and doesn't matter. Or, maybe, like most diaries and notebooks, this is just one writer's chaff and should be treated as such.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: "Farrar, Straus & Giroux"