Saturday, 26 April 2008

George Steiner

Irony, or putting your body on the line for metaphysics?

"They had to move me to the biggest lecture hall in Cambridge," Steiner says. "And the students packed it." But a charismatic generalist with an interest in continental theorists was not all the dons' cup of tea. Things came to a head when he was summoned to an interview for an English faculty job in 1969. The two senior members of the faculty were sitting waiting, armed with a copy of an article he'd written. One of them, speaking "in a dry chirpy voice", said: "I would like to read a sentence to you. 'To shoot a man because you disagree with him about Hegel's dialectic is after all to honour the human spirit.' Did you write this sentence? And do you believe it?" Steiner replied: "Absolutely." That, he says, "was the end of the interview", and although his college came through for him with "fantastic generosity", he decided to go freelance, inheriting Edmund Wilson's berth at the New Yorker.

From here.

No comments: