7 „Man wird, was man war erst ganz in der Emigration“: Veza und Elias Canetti in der Emigration in England ‒ Geschlechtererfahrung in Leben und Literatur

in Exile and Gender I
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In January 1939 the Canettis left Vienna due to the Nazi persecution of Jews and arrived in the suburban area of Hampstead, north-west London, where they spent their daily life as Austrian refugees. According to the few documents of the era, i.e. Nachträge aus Hampstead (1999), Party im Blitz (2003) and Briefe an Georges (2006), it is evident that Veza’s and Elias’s integration process in their new homeland went through different stages. Veza was able to dedicate herself not only to literary production and translation and review activities, but also to her conventional gender role as wife and secretary of the prominent Elias Canetti. On the contrary, the latter – a later Nobel Laureate – suffered initially from a deep ‚Wiener Heimweh‘ and was depressed and disoriented. His solution was to return to his Jewish roots and his reconstruction of the pre-war Viennese lifestyle. He frequented refugee organisations and coffeehouses, was in contact with other Austrian refugee intellectuals and conducted love affairs. This helped him change his mind towards „den Ort, an dem ich bin“, a place that later became so „vertraut, als wäre ich hier geboren“.


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