Wednesday, May 25, 2011

George Steiner: a video interview with Alan Macfarlane

I first read (parts of) George Steiner's (born April 23, 1929, Wikipedia) After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation (1975, Wikipedia) in 1980. (I probably first heard of him a few years earlier.)

Finally, thirty one years later (in 2011), I got to see him in this excellent two-hour interview (below), conducted on July 16, 2007 by the renowned Cambridge social anthropologist Alan Macfarlane ((born 20 December 1941, Wikipedia).

Alan Macfarlane has a wondeful video library, a treasure trove, that is well worth exporing (Youtube and here).

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(from Wikipedia)

Francis George Steiner, FBA (born April 23, 1929), is an influential European-born American literary critic, essayist, philosopher, novelist, translator, and educator. He has written extensively about the relationship between language, literature and society, and the impact of the Holocaust. Some consider him both a polyglot and a polymath; he is sometimes said to have redefined the role of the critic.

Among his admirers, Steiner is ranked "among the great minds in today's literary world."  English novelist A. S. Byatt described him as a "late, late, late Renaissance man ... a European metaphysician with an instinct for the driving ideas of our time."   Harriet Harvey-Wood, a former literature director of the British Council, saw him as a "magnificent lecturer – prophetic and doom-laden [who would] turn up with half a page of scribbled notes, and never refer to them."

Steiner was Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Geneva (1974–1994), Professor of Comparative Literature and Fellow at the University of Oxford (1994–1995) and Professor of Poetry at Harvard University (2001–2002).

He lives in Cambridge, England, where he has been Extraordinary Fellow at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge since 1969.



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