To many men... the miasma of peace seems more suffocating than the bracing air of war.

— George Steiner

The most controversy George Steiner quotes that will add value to your life

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.

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When a language dies, a way of understanding the world dies with it, a way of looking at the world.

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the calling of the teacher. There is no craft more privileged. To awaken in another human being powers, dreams beyond one’s own; to induce in others a love for that which one loves; to make of one’s inward present their future; that is a threefold adventure like no other.

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George Steiner quote Every language is a world. Without trans

Every language is a world. Without translation, we would inhabit parishes bordering on silence.

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Every language is a world. Without translation, we would inhabit parishes bordering on silence.

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The intellectual is, quite simply, a human being who has a pencil in his or her hand when reading a book.

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Books - the best antidote against the marsh-gas of boredom and vacuity

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The most important tribute any human being can pay to a poem or a piece of prose he or she really loves is to learn it by heart. Not by brain, by heart; the expression is vital.

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Nothing is more symptomatic of the enervation, of the decompression of the Western imagination, than our incapacity to respond to the landings on the Moon. Not a single great poem, picture, metaphor has come of this breathtaking act, of Prometheus' rescue of Icarus or of Phaeton in flight towards the stars.

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I believe that a work of art, like metaphors in language, can ask the most serious, difficult questions in a way which really makes the readers answer for themselves; that the work of art far more than an essay or a tract involves the reader, challenges him directly and brings him into the argument.

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

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The Jew has his anchorage not in place but in time, in his highly developed sense of history as personal context. Six thousand years of self-awareness are a homeland.

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Men are accomplices to that which leaves them indifferent.

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About George Steiner

Quotes 84 sayings
Nationality American
Profession Critic
Birthday April 23, 1929

The ordinary man casts a shadow in a way we do not quite understand. The man of genius casts light.

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For it is a plain fact that, most certainly in the West, the writings, works of art, musical compositions which are of central reference, comport that which is "grave and constant" (Joyce's epithets) in the mystery of our condition.

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Words that are saturated with lies or atrocity, do not easily resume life.

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Tragedy speaks not of secular dilemmas which may be resolved by rational innovation, but of the unalterable bias toward inhumanity and destruction in the drift of the world.

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Language is the main instrument of man's refusal to accept the world as it is.

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All serious art, music, literature is a critical act.

It is so, firstly, in the sense of Matthew Arnold's phrase: "a criticism of life." Be it realistic, fantastic, Utopian or satiric, the construct of the artist is a counter-statement to the world.

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The age of the book is almost gone.

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Chess may be the deepest, least exhaustible of pastimes, but it is nothing more.

As for a chess genius, he is a human being who focuses vast, little-understood mental gifts and labors on an ultimately trivial human enterprise.

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Central to everything I am and believe and have written is my astonishment, naive as it seems to people, that you can use human speech both to bless, to love, to build, to forgive and also to torture, to hate, to destroy and to annihilate.

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The whispers of shared ecstasy are choral.

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Nothing in the next-door world of Dachau impinged on the great winter cycle of Beethoven chamber music played in Munich. No canvases came off museum walls as the butchers strolled reverently past, guide-books in hand.

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Books are in no hurry. An act of creation is in no hurry; it reads us, it privileges us infinitely.

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To many writers and thinkers, though not to all, another text is, or can be, the most naked and charged of life-forces ... The concept of allusion or analogue is totally inadequate. To Dante these other texts are the organic context of identity. They are as directly about life as life is about them.

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The journalistic vision sharpens to the point of maximum impact every event, every individual and social configuration; but the honing is uniform.

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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.

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I have every reason to believe that an individual man or woman fluent in several tongues seduces, possesses, remembers differently according to his or her use of the relevant language.

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The immense majority of human biographies are a gray transit between domestic spasm and oblivion.

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To a degree which is difficult to determine, the esoteric impulse in twentieth-century music, literature and the arts reflects calculation. It looks to the flattery of academic and hermeneutic notice. Reciprocally, the academy turns towards that which appears to require its exegetic, cryptographic skills.

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The very opposite of freedom is cliche, and nothing is less free, more inert with convention and hollow brutality, than a row of four-letter words.

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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.

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A good deal of classical music is, today, the opium of the good citizen.

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My father loved poetry and music. But deep in himself he thought teaching the finest thing a person could do.

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The Oresteia, King Lear, Dostoevsky's 'The Devils' no less than the art of Giotto or the 'Passions' of Bach, inquire into, dramatize, the relations of man and woman to the existence of the gods or of God.

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The poet's discourse can be compared to the track of a charged particle through a cloud-chamber. An energised field of association and connotation, of overtones and undertones, of rebus and homophone, surround its motion, and break from it in the context of collision .. in Western poetry so much of the charged substance is previous poetry.

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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.

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The private reader of listener can become an executant of felt meaning when he learns the poem or the musical passage by heart. To learn by heart is to afford the text or music an indwelling clarity and life-force.

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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.

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There would be no history as we know it, no religion, no metaphysics or aesthetics as we have lived them, without an initial act of trust, of confiding, more fundamental, more axiomatic by far than any “social contract” or covenant with the postulate of the divine. This instauration of trust, this entrance of man into the city of man, is that between word and world.

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My writing of fiction comes under a very general heading of those teachers, critics, scholars who like to try their own hand once or twice in their lives.

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I find so much writing colourless, small in its means, unwilling to take stylistic risks. Often it goes wrong; I am not the one to judge. Sometimes, I hope, it goes right.

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Anything can be said and, in consequence, written about anything.

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To starve a child of the spell of the story, of the canter of the poem, oral or written, is a kind of living burial. It is to immure him in emptiness.

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To understand is to decipher. To hear significance is to translate.

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Every one of my opponents, every one of my critics, will tell you that I am a generalist spread far too thin in an age when this is not done anymore, when responsible knowledge is specialized knowledge.

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To ask larger questions is to risk getting things wrong.

Not to ask them at all is to constrain the life of understanding

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The Socratic demonstration of the ultimate unity of tragic and comic drama is forever lost. But the proof is in the art of Chekhov.

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What worthwhile book after the Pentateuch has been written by a committee?

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