George Steiner
Quotations


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

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.

Men are accomplices to that which leaves them indifferent.

Language can only deal meaningfully with a special, restricted segment of reality. The rest, and it is presumably the much larger part, is silence.

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

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.

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

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

I owe everything to a system that made me learn by heart till I wept. As a result I have thousands of lines of poetry by heart. I owe everything to this.



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