It reads like a series of essays by Montaigne but all directed toward the phenomenon of human organisation. Each essay, which might include references as diverse as the anthropology of South American tribes to the history of European warfare, contains some comment which is not only arresting but revelatory of profound insight. Who knew that an apparently sociological treatise could be so creative, so enthralling, so literate? His unit of analysis is the crowd, which may arise from something more primitive called a pack, but which takes on uniquely crowd-like characteristics and force. The crowd, depending on its type, of which there are several, has an implicit crowd-mind, not dissimilar perhaps from the hive-mind of bees or ten-year old girls.
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The Ardittis can be traced to the 14th century, when they were court physicians and astronomers to the Aragonese royal court of Alfonso IV and Pedro IV. Before settling in Ruse, they had migrated into Italy and lived in Livorno in the 17th century. In , his father died suddenly, and his mother moved with their children first to Lausanne , then Vienna in the same year.
They lived in Vienna from the time Canetti was aged seven onwards. His mother insisted that he speak German, and taught it to him. By this time Canetti already spoke Ladino his native language , Bulgarian , English, and some French; the latter two he studied in the one year they were in Britain. Canetti went back to Vienna in in order to study chemistry. However, his primary interests during his years in Vienna became philosophy and literature. Introduced into the literary circles of First-Republic - Vienna , he started writing.
Politically leaning towards the left, he was present at the July Revolt of — he came near to the action accidentally, was most impressed by the burning of books recalled frequently in his writings , and left the place quickly with his bicycle. He published two works in Vienna before escaping to Great Britain. He wrote several volumes of memoirs, contemplating the influence of his multi-lingual background and childhood.
Canetti remained open to relationships with other women. He had a short affair with Anna Mahler. In , after the Anschluss with Germany, the Canettis moved to London. He became closely involved with the painter Marie-Louise von Motesiczky , who was to remain a close companion for many years.
After Veza died in , Canetti married Hera Buschor — , with whom he had a daughter, Johanna, in Career[ edit ] A writer in German, Canetti won the Nobel Prize in Literature in , "for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power". In the s, Canetti began to travel more frequently to Zurich, where he settled and lived for his last 20 years.
Start free Blinkist trial Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now Synopsis Crowds and Power is a troubling, prophetic and erudite analysis of human groups and their interaction with power. Written by Nobel laureate Elias Canetti, it asks why humans who prize individuality seek out membership in crowds and how rulers exploit that desire. This study is as wide-ranging in the sources it draws upon as it is thought-provoking in the conclusions it reaches. Key idea 1 of 11 There are five different types of crowd that can be distinguished by their emotional content.
Crowds and Power
Jump to navigation Jump to search First edition publ. Claassen Verlag Crowds and Power German : Masse und Macht is a book by Elias Canetti , dealing with the dynamics of crowds and "packs" and the question of how and why crowds obey power of rulers. Canetti draws a parallel between ruling and paranoia. It is notable for its unusual tone; although wide-ranging in its erudition, it is not scholarly or academic in a conventional way. Rather, it reads like a manual written by someone outside the human race explaining to another outsider in concise and highly metaphoric language how people form mobs and manipulate power. Unlike much non-fiction writing, it is highly poetic and seething with anger. On asking questions: "On the questioner the effect is a feeling of enhanced power.