Quotes by George Steiner

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(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).

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There is something terribly wrong with a culture inebriated by noise and gregariousness.

The new sound-sphere is global. It ripples at great speed across languages, ideologies, frontiers and races. The economics of this musical Esperanto is staggering. Rock and pop breed concentric worlds of fashion, setting and life-style. Popular music has brought with it sociologies of private and public manner, of group solidarity. The politics of Eden come loud.
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.
To many men... the miasma of peace seems more suffocating than the bracing air of war.
The violent illiteracies of the graffiti, the clenched silence of the adolescent, the nonsense cries from the stage-happening, are resolutely strategic. The insurgent and the freak-out have broken off discourse with a cultural system which they despise as a cruel, antiquated fraud. They will not bandy words with it. Accept, even momentarily, the conventions of literate linguistic exchange, and you are caught in the net of the old values, of the grammars that can condescend or enslave.
Pornographers subvert this last, vital privacy; they do our imagining for us. They take away the words that were of the night and shout them over the roof-tops, making them hollow.
Words that are saturated with lies or atrocity, do not easily resume life.
Language can only deal meaningfully with a special, restricted segment of reality. The rest, and it is presumably the much larger part, is silence.
Men are accomplices to that which leaves them indifferent.
To shoot a man because one disagrees with his interpretation of Darwin or Hegel is a sinister tribute to the supremacy of ideas in human affairs -- but a tribute nevertheless.
We know 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.
The age of the book is almost gone.
The immense majority of human biographies are a gray transit between domestic spasm and oblivion.

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