Wednesday 5 February 2020

My Taste of Steiner

I was sorry to hear of the death of the eminent critic George Steiner, who has died at the ripe age of 90, at home in Cambridge.
It was at Cambridge that I first encountered him. The university seems to have regarded him with suspicion – he was a always a controversial figure, something of a maverick – and held him at arm's length. However, I was once lucky enough to hear him speak, and it was one of the few wholly positive educational experiences of my Cambridge years. I'm not sure if it was a lecture or a talk to the English Society – I forget – but what I do remember is that Steiner's subjects were Beckett, Borges and Nabokov, and he spoke with such eloquent passion that I was fired up with enthusiasm and determined to read as much as I could find of these three (Beckett I has already discovered, but the other two were little more than names to me). This one lecture opened up my literary world in a way almost nothing else in the academic line had done. It was truly inspiring, in a certain sense life-changing, and I'll always be grateful for that taste of Steiner at his best.


  1. For me, Brazilian, Borges is quite familiar. Joycean as I am, too. And Nabokov, because of pale fire. Steiner, I guess, doesn't fit in our times. So do I.

  2. Yes, not the best times to fit in, RIcardo...