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Holy Grails, Promised Lands

D.J. Enright, 9 April 1992

Proofs and Three Parables 
by George Steiner.
Faber, 114 pp., £5.99, March 1992, 0 571 16621 0
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... Proofs’, the longest story here, looks to be George Steiner’s farewell tribute on the passing of Communism; hardly a tribute, but rather more magnanimous than the run of postmortems and obituaries elicited by the event. The main character, an Italian somewhat old-fashionedly referred to as the Professore, is a convinced long-time Communist, by métier a fanatical proof-reader ...

Enlarging Insularity

Patrick McGuinness: Donald Davie, 20 January 2000

With the Grain: Essays on Thomas Hardy and Modern British Poetry 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 346 pp., £14.95, October 1998, 1 85754 394 7
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... Bunting, Charles Tomlinson, Ted Hughes, Robert Graves, Hugh MacDiarmid, J.M. Synge, David Jones, George Steiner, Geoffrey Hill, Elizabeth Daryush and the fraternity of poets anthologised by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville in A Various Art. It also includes a number of Davie’s poems. If we were to read the adjective ‘British’ in the subtitle of ...

Hitler and History

Hans Keller, 5 February 1981

Hitler 
by Norman Stone.
Hodder, 195 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 340 24980 3
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Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ in Britain and America: A Publishing History 1930-39 
by James Barnes and Patience Barnes.
Cambridge, 158 pp., £8.50, September 1980, 0 521 22691 0
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The Berlin Secession: Modernism and Its Enemies in Imperial Germany 
by Peter Paret.
Harvard, 262 pp., £10.50, December 1980, 0 674 06773 8
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German Romantic Painting 
by William Vaughan.
Yale, 260 pp., £19.95, October 1980, 0 300 02387 1
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... by our civilisation’s continued, compulsive preoccupation with his personality – which a George Steiner even undertook to reinvent: his The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. has been reviewed in these pages, nor are Norman Stone, James J. Barnes and Patience P. Barnes always less fanciful. And if Hitler’s personality remains an ...

Conrad and Prejudice

Craig Raine, 22 June 1989

Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays 1967-87 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £10.95, January 1988, 0 435 91000 0
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... visited on Eliot, this is a good deal.’ I turn, deliberately, from this last sentence to George Steiner – who, on a television programme last November, discussed the case of Eliot and that of Ezra Pound with Professor Ricks, Annie Cohen-Solal and Clive James. Professor Steiner began by discomfiting ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore, 24 September 2015

... In 1968, the Sunday Times ran a competition to translate Baudelaire’s sonnet ‘Spleen’, with George Steiner as judge. Steiner found himself receiving ‘fantastically mottoed’ envelopes from a variety of increasingly improbable authors and sources, all in the same green ink: W.H. Laudanum, Kenelme Sexnoth ...

Not in Spanish

Michael Hofmann: Bilingualism, 21 May 2020

... expect people to remember exactly what you said, or the details of your message’). Cost is George Steiner dedicating his anthology of poetry translations, Poem to Poem, to his mother, ‘who spoke six languages, in her own fashion’. It is the inability to manage with what Costa calls ‘orderly mixing’, a lightly mocking and blissfully ...

A Match for Macchu Picchu

Christopher Reid, 4 June 1981

Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu 
by John Felstiner.
Stanford, 284 pp., $18.50, December 1980, 0 8047 1079 1
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The Oxford Book of Verse in English Translation 
edited by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 608 pp., £12.95, October 1980, 0 19 214103 1
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... at best a minor or compromised one. It seems that the idea for this book came from a passage in George Steiner’s study of language and translation, After Babel – itself an intellectual adventure in the grand old conquistadorial manner. Steiner deplored the fact that, whereas a good many literary creators have ...

Joining the Gang

Nicholas Penny: Anthony Blunt, 29 November 2001

Anthony Blunt: His Lives 
by Miranda Carter.
Macmillan, 590 pp., £20, November 2001, 0 333 63350 4
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... as a senior academic, teacher and writer. Writing about Carter’s biography in the TLS, George Steiner says that Blunt ‘risked or courted exposure at almost every point; sexual, political and, it may be, in one or two instances, professional’. This is unconvincing. Everyone who knew anything about Blunt knew that he was ...

Diary

Alan Brien: Finding Lenin, 7 August 1986

... writing documentary novels disguised as biography. You would – well, I would – think that George Steiner must be a model of scholarly rigour. When I read his essay ‘Trotsky and the Tragic Imagination’ in Language and Silence, I felt my pulse speed up at his remark about Lenin and Trotsky: ‘the relationship between these two elemental ...
Aisha 
by Ahdaf Soueif.
Cape, 159 pp., £7.50, July 1983, 0 224 02097 8
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... outside the main territory currently mined by her Arabic-language contemporaries. Some years ago George Steiner perceptively characterised the linguistic homelessness and adaptability of refugee writers (Nabokov, Beckett etc) as creating ‘poets unhoused and wanderers across language ... eccentric, aloof, nostalgic’. Soueif’s work, modest in ...

Antigone on Your Knee

Terry Eagleton, 6 February 2020

A Cultural History of Tragedy: Vols I-VI 
edited by Rebecca Bushnell.
Bloomsbury Academic, 1302 pp., £395, November 2019, 978 1 4742 8814 9
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... that ‘Oedipus’ de-oculation concedes violability in the face of external impingements.’ For George Steiner, one reason for the supposed death of tragedy in the modern era is the fact that the two ideologies which shaped the period most deeply, Marxism and Christianity, are both anti-tragic doctrines. But this is to define tragedy as a narrative ...

Diary

Tim Hilton: Art Talk, 19 November 1992

... might be. Among such artists were Barry Flanagan, Richard Long, Bruce McLean, Gilbert and George and others. Many of these people disliked each other. While their individual careers developed they found that they could not teach in the same studios. By the early Seventies this wonderful department was at war with itself. Obviously a standard ...

Father’ Things

Gabriele Annan, 7 August 1980

The Duke of Deception: Memories of My Father 
by Geoffrey Wolff.
Hodder, 275 pp., £8.25, June 1980, 0 340 25469 6
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... descended from the flies and straightened out his life would have been quite hard to guess. It was George Steiner, his teacher at Cambridge. Geoffrey told him that he was going to marry a girl called Priscilla.       ‘Well,’ he said, ‘don’t underestimate the difficulties.’       ‘What difficulties?’       ‘Of a Jew ...

Short is sharp

John Sutherland, 3 February 1983

Firebird 2 
edited by T.J. Binding.
Penguin, 284 pp., £2.95, January 1983, 0 14 006337 4
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Bech is Back 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 195 pp., £6.95, January 1983, 0 233 97512 8
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The Pangs of Love 
by Jane Gardam.
Hamish Hamilton, 156 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 241 10942 6
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The Man Who Sold Prayers 
by Margaret Creal.
Dent, 198 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 9780460045926
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Happy as a Dead Cat 
by Jill Miller.
Women’s Press, 120 pp., £2.50, January 1983, 9780704338982
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... such mandarins as Alfred Kazin, Gore Vidal, Benjamin de Mott and – at inordinate length – George Steiner in the New Yorker (a bite at the hand which has, most famously, fed Updike): ‘An occasion to marvel once again that not since the Periclean Greeks has there been a configuration of intellectual aptitude, spiritual breadth, and radical ...

Exceptionally Wonderful Book

John Sutherland, 6 October 1994

Knowledge of Angels 
by Jill Paton Walsh.
Green Bay in association with Colt, 268 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 948845 05 8
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... No two panels, as they are annually reconstituted, will come up with the same titles. George Steiner will not coincide in judgment with John Bayley. There is the added complication of the unpredictable preferences of the lay members of the committee – what might be called the Mary Wilson factor. At the heart of the Booker process is the ...

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