'The Tongue Set Free is so beautifully written. It begins wtih an extraordinary image, Canetti's earliest memory.
He comes out of a room. A man makes him stick out his tongue; if he talks he will cut it off.
Years later Canetti realises that this was his nursemaid's lover, frightening him into silence about their rendezvous.
The idea of speaking as the entry into forbidden grown-up life dominates this book.
When he is seven his father dies. He is propelled from childhood into adulthood, from his father to his mother, through language.
In an extraordinary, cruel episode his mother forces him to learn perfect adult German in three months, to replace her husband as quickly as possible.
His tongue is set free: he has won his mother, against brothers , against all lovers.
It is the most intense Oedipal relationhsip I have ever seen described and Canetti describes it brilliantly.
But it's all extraordinary, and all masterfully written.
There are wonderful descriptions of Canetti's first oriental, medieval home in pre-World War l Bulgaria: of his later homes in Manchester, in Vienna, in Switzerland.
There are unforgettable portraits. The values of Auto da Fe are given a human history and a human face' New Statesman