George Steiner quotes

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George Steiner

Birthdate: 23. April 1929
Date of death: 3. February 2020

Francis George Steiner, FBA is a French-born American literary critic, essayist, philosopher, novelist, and educator. He has written extensively about the relationship between language, literature and society, and the impact of the Holocaust. An article in The Guardian described Steiner as a "polyglot and polymath", saying that he is either "often credited with recasting the role of the critic", or a "pretentious namedropper" whose "range comes at the price of inaccuracy" and "complacency".

Among his admirers, Steiner is ranked "among the great minds in today's literary world." English novelist A. S. Byatt described him as a "late, late, late Renaissance man ... a European metaphysician with an instinct for the driving ideas of our time." Harriet Harvey-Wood, a former literature director of the British Council, described him as a "magnificent lecturer – prophetic and doom-laden [who would] turn up with half a page of scribbled notes, and never refer to them."

Steiner was Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Geneva , Professor of Comparative Literature and Fellow at the University of Oxford and Professor of Poetry at Harvard University .

He lives in Cambridge, England, where he has been Extraordinary Fellow at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge since 1969. He is married to author and historian Zara Shakow Steiner; they have a son, David Steiner and a daughter, Deborah Steiner .

„We know now that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can
play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day's work at Auschwitz in the
morning.“

—  George Steiner

Preface.
Language and Silence: Essays 1958-1966 (1967)
Context: We come after. We know now that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day's work at Auschwitz in the morning. To say that he has read them without understanding or that his ear is gross, is cant. In what way does this knowledge bear on literature and society, on the hope, grown almost axiomatic from the time of Plato to that of Matthew Arnold, that culture is a humanizing force, that the energies of spirit are transferable to those of conduct?

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