Zitate von George Steiner

In seinem Essay "To civilize our gentlemen" (1965) (in: Language & Silence), beleuchtet George Steiner an einem Detail die Malaise unserer Bildung(spolitik)/(sentwicklung), das indirekt die Bedeutung der Erinnerung, auch der kollektiven, als Lebensnerv aufzeigt:

    "The point is not trivial. As footnotes lengthen, as glossaries become more elementary right now it might still be 'Troilus: Trojan hero in love with Cressida, daughter of Calchas, and betrayed by her,' but in a few years the Iliad itself may require identification, the poetry loses immediate impact. It moves out of any direct line of vision into a place of special learning. This fact marks a very large change in the consensus assumed between poet and public. The world of classical mythology, ... is receding from our natural reach."
Steiner zitiert später einen Ausspruch von Kierkegaard: "It is not worth while remembering that past which cannot become a present."

Das, was nicht wiederbelebt, vergegenwärtig werden kann, braucht nicht erinnert werden, oder: Erinnern, echtes Erinnern, ist Vergegenwärtigen. Schöner Hinweis auf Informationsverarbeiter, die einen, so scheint es manchmal, zu einem Speicher und Zeichenverwalter degradieren, als ob es genügte, die Zeichen zu speichern, abzurufen, zu verbinden etc. In der Vergegenwärtigung, der Interpretation, liegt mehr. Dieses "Mehr" macht den Unterschied!

Gegen Ende seines Artikels "Silence and the poet" (1966), spricht George Steiner von einer Art Respekt oder Pietät, wie man es nennen könnte, die, wäre sie existent, verhinderte, daß zuviel Seichtes, Überflüssiges über das Private hinaus kommuniziert, ausgetauscht wird. Die Überlegungen taugen als kulturkritische Provokation, beleuchten die Positivität des Schweigens, der Verweigerung, der Nicht-Verschwendung...:

    "I am not saying that writers should stop writing. This would be fatuous. I am asking whether they are not writing too much, whether the deluge of print in which we seek our deafened way is not itself a subversion of meaning. 'A civilization of words is a civilization distraught.' It is one in which the constant inflation of verbal counters has so devalued the once numinous act of written communication that there is almost no way for the valid and the genuinely new to make themselves heard. Each month must produce its masterpiece and so the press hounds mediocrity into momentary, fake splendor. The scientists tell us that the acceleration of specialized, monographic publication is such that libraries will soon have to be placed in orbit, circling the earth and subject to electronic scanning as needed. The proliferation of verbiage in humanistic scholarship, the trivia decked out as erudition or critical re-assessment, threatens to obliterate the work of art itself and the exacting freshness of personal encounter on which true criticism depends. We also speak far too much, far too easily, making commonn what was private, arresting into the clichés of false certitude that which was provisional, personal, and therefore alive on the shadow-side of speech. We live in a culture which is, increasingly, a wind-tunnel of gossip, gossip that reaches from theology and politics to an unprecedented noising of private concerns (the psychoanalytic process is the high rhetoric of gossip). "

"Literary criticism should arise out of a debt of love", (the opening sentence of my "Tolstoy or Dostoevsky").

"I see myself as reading with people."

"But reading involves a real semiotics, a real linguistics, a real philology: Philology in the old sense, love of the Logos, respect for the text. Most of us no longer know how to read. Sometimes I think universities, which have become enemies of reading, ought to be closed down. Instead there should be Houses of Reading where reading means exploring language and ideas. And we should know grammar, for grammar is the music of language. "

An Informel Conversation with George Steiner (by Gabriel Moked). In: THE TEL AVIV REVIEW 3(1991)Winter:28-40

"Mediate thought about language is an attempt to step outside one's own skin of consciousness, a vital cover more intimately enfolding, more close-woven to human identity than is the skin of our body."
(After Babel)

"As I think my thought, time passes; it passes again as I articulate it. The spoken word cannot be called back. Because language is expressive action in time, there can be no unsaying, only denial or contradiction, which are themselves forward motions."
(After Babel)

"Western historicism and the stress on the uniqueness of individual recollection which underwrites our notion of the integrity and privacy of the person, are inseperable from the wealth of 'pasts' availab to our speech. (...) What is psychoanalysis if it is not an attempt to derive and give substantive authority to a vbal construct of the past? (...) Whatever the tense used, all utternace is a present act. Remembrance is always now."
(After Babel)

"Historians are increasingly aware that the conventions of narrative and of implicit reality with which they work are philosophically vulnerable. The dilemma exists on at least two levels. The first is semantic. The bulk of the historian's material consists of utterances made in and about the past. Given the perpetual process of linguistic change, not only in vocabulary and syntax but in meaning, how is he to interpret, to translate, his sources? (...) But the dilemma is not only semantic. There can, as Rudolf Bültmann has shown in his study of the Gospels, be no 'presuppostionless reading' of the past. To all past events, as to all present intake, the observer brings a specific mental set. It is a set programmed for the present. (T)he issue is controversial - there are no non-temporal truths."
(After Babel)

"Futurity is a necessary condition of ethical being."
(After Babel)

"There is a vital sense in which that grammar has 'deveoped man', in which we can be defined as a mammal that uses the future of the verb 'to be'. (...) The syntactic development is inextricably inwoven with historical self-awareness. The 'axiomatic fictions' of forward inference and anticipation are far more than a specialized gain of human consciousness. They are, I believe, a survival factor of the utmost importance. The provisions of concepts and speech acts embodying the future is as indispensable to the preservation and evolution of our specific humanity as is that of dreams to the economy of the brain."
(After Babel)

  • Biografische Infos zu George Steiner bei "Booklist.com" (englisch)
  • Michel Fingerhut: Vollständiger Text (englisch) von Steiners Buch "In Bluebeard's Castle. Somes Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture" (Yale University Press 1971)
  • George Steiner: "Sprache und Schweigen" (1969); Textauszug aus dem Essayband auf der Homepage der Mauthner-Gesellschaft
  • Edinburgh International Festival 1996 - The University of Edinburgh: George Steiner lecture: Part 1, Part 2
  • Has Western Culture Forgotten How to Read? Critic George Steiner worries that we're losing our cultural reference points. Rieviewed by Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, August 18, 1996
  • Errata. Steiner's Memoir a Sketchy Mix of Reminiscence and Complaint. Rieviewed by Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, April 12, 1998
  • "Langsamer Abschied von der Morgenröte" - Rezension von Martin Meyer in der "Neuen Zürcher Zeitung" vom 9. Oktober 2001 zu Steiners Buch "Grammatik der Schöpfung"
  • Steve Harris reviews "No Passion Spent" by George Steiner. Avatar Review
  • George and his dragons - Once spurned by the academic establishment, this controversial critic is dismissed by some as a pretentious namedropper. To others he is a polymath champion of European high culture. Maya Jaggi reports. The Guardian March 17, 2001
  • Original bliss. Roy Porter acclaims an anatomy of creativity in Grammars of Creation by George Steiner. The Guardian, Saturday March 17, 2001
  • In the beginning... George Steiner's new book, Grammars of Creation, is a riveting guide to language and existence. Adam Phillips, The Observer, Sunday March 11, 2001
  • Kaddisch auf die verlorene Schöpfung. George Steiners traurige Kunstreligion. Von Otto Kallscheuer, Die Zeit Lit. Dez.2001
  • In Praise of the Hidden. F.H. Buckley on "Grammars of Creation" by George Steiner. Crisis Vol. 20 No. 3 - March 2002
  • George Steiner: Das Cordelia-Paradox. 17th Jan Patocka Memorial Lecture, IWM Wien mit Renner Institut
  • George Steiner: Teaching in the age of mockery. Independent 14 November 2003
  • Rede von Bundesaußenminister Fischer anlässlich der Verleihung des Ludwig-Börne-Preises an George Steiner in der Paulskirche zu Frankfurt am 25. Mai 2003 mit Kommentierung
  • Fischers Favorit ist ein Universalgelehrter: Außenminister wählt George Steiner zum Börne-Preisträger. Rhein-Main-Zeitung 25.03.03
  • Auszüge aus einem Vortrag zur Information über den Börne-Preis 2003. Dr. Fritz U. Krause: Unter den Steinen ist der Sumpf.
    (Juni 2003)