Treasure Island

Quotations From GEORGE STEINER

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  • 1.
    Words that are saturated with lies or atrocity, do not easily resume life.
    George Steiner (b. 1929), French-born U.S. critic, novelist. (Essay originally published 1963). "K," Language and Silence (1967).

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  • 2.
    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.
    George Steiner (b. 1929), French-born U.S. critic, novelist. Language and Silence, preface (1967).

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  • 3.
    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.
    George Steiner (b. 1929), French-born U.S. critic, novelist. "Nightworks," Language and Silence (1967).

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  • 4.
    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.
    George Steiner (b. 1929), French-born U.S. critic, novelist. In Bluebeard's Castle, ch. 1 (1971).

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  • 5.
    To many men ... the miasma of peace seems more suffocating than the bracing air of war.
    George Steiner (b. 1929), French-born U.S. critic, novelist. Bronowski Memorial Lecture. "Has Truth a Future?" (1978).

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  • 6.
    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.
    George Steiner (b. 1929), French-born U.S. critic, novelist. Guardian (London, March 26, 1992).

    Read more quotations about / on: heart, poetry
  • 7.
    Men are accomplices to that which leaves them indifferent.
    George Steiner (b. 1929), French-born U.S. critic, novelist. "A Kind of Survivor," Language and Silence (1967).
  • 8.
    Language can only deal meaningfully with a special, restricted segment of reality. The rest, and it is presumably the much larger part, is silence.
    George Steiner (b. 1929), French-born U.S. critic, novelist. "The Retreat from the Word," Language and Silence (1967).

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  • 9.
    The immense majority of human biographies are a gray transit between domestic spasm and oblivion.
    George Steiner (b. 1929), French-born-U.S. critic, novelist. In Bluebeard's Castle, ch. 1 (1971).
  • 10.
    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.
    George Steiner (b. 1929), French-bornU.S. critic, novelist. "Marxism and the Literary Critic," Language and Silence (1967).
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