"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.