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From entries in The Book Against Death that were published for the first time in English in the Fall 2021–Winter 2022 issue of Salmagundi. Canetti, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981, worked on the manuscript from 1937 until his death in 1994. Translated from the German.

1942
Pascal was thirty-nine years old when he died; I will soon be thirty-seven. That means I have barely two years left, which isn’t much time!

1946
I would like to be able to not think of death for an entire week, not even of the word, as if it were something made up, one of those monstrous creations composed of letters, no one knowing any longer what the letters stand for.

1952
Can any language be made viable that does not know the word “death”?

1969
And what if your condemnation of death is nothing more than a dam constructed against your own desire for destruction?

1978
I’m curious about the last conversation. With whom will it be?

1986
He died in his sleep. In which dream?

1994
It is time for me to sort matters out again within myself. Without writing I am nothing. I sense how my life dissolves into dead, dull speculation when I no longer write about what is on my mind. I will try to change that.


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