It is not the literal past that rules us, save, possibly, in a biological sense. It is images of the past. Each new historical era mirrors itself in the picture and active mythology of its past or of a past borrowed from other cultures. It tests its sense of identity, of regress or new achievement against that past.
(Francis) George Steiner, prominent literary critic (who has not used the name Francis since his undergraduate days), was born in Paris, France, on April 23, 1929; the son of Dr Frederick George and Mrs Else Steiner. He was educated first at the Lyce in Paris and then at the French Lyce in New York after the family moved to America in 1940. He gained a BA from the University of Chicago, an MA from Harvard and a DPhil from Oxford (Balliol College, of which he became an Honorary Fellow in 1995). From 1953 to 1955 Steiner taught at Williams College in Massachusetts. In 1955 he married Zara Shakow, to whom he had been introduced by friends in 1952. They have one son (David, Dean of the School of Education at Hunter College) and one daughter (Deborah, Professor of Classics at Columbia).