Elias Canetti’s poetological remarks on his novel Auto-Da-Fé revolve around the renewal of the realistic novel. This renewal is to be understood in a peculiar sense: the contemporaneity of the novel is equivalent to the process of reinventing the realist novel. In order to renew the realist novel, realism has to be pushed to the limit, to the point at which the realist novel exhausts its technique, its procedures, and its objects. The realist novel is only able to be contemporary with reality by coming to its own end. In this sense Canetti's book is indeed an Auto-Da-Fé.
Although art always takes place in time, its manifestations – actual works of art – can be characterized by the specific and close connection they maintain between contemporaneity and timelessness. Their relation to time must be differentiated in a twofold manner: on the one hand, there is the relation to the time in which they are embedded, and, on the other, the relation to the time that they themselves create. In particular historical conditions a specific temporality of the artwork emerges. Both temporalities are superimposed on by one another, namely as a timelessness of artworks as such. The book assembles a variety of thinkers that confront one of the most crucial questions when dealing with the very definition, concept and operativity of art: How to link art to the concept of the contemporary?