George Steiner obituary

Eric Homberger in The Guardian:

George Steiner, who has died aged 90, was a polymathic European intellectual of particular severity. In an academic career that took him from the University of Chicago to Harvard, Oxford, Princeton, Cambridge and Geneva, Steiner held forth on tragedy, reading, the decline of literacy, the possibilities of translation, science and chess. He crossed swords with Noam Chomsky on linguistics and wrote the Fontana Modern Masters volume on the German philosopher Martin Heidegger.

For half a century, Steiner was a commanding reviewer and a subtle and enthralling lecturer. His books established fields, set agendas, and upheld the highest standards. There has been nobody quite like him in contemporary British intellectual life.

He was feted and laden with honours from learned societies, research institutes and distinguished universities. Few academics of his generation received so many professions of respect. Yet, Steiner was far from satisfied. He felt that Cambridge University had behaved abominably in not appointing him to a lectureship. Those who remained silent about his ideas, or wrote mocking reviews of his books, were, he thought, all too likely to appropriate his central themes without acknowledgment.

More here.

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