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An education in a portmanteau: George Steiner at The New Yorker collects his best work from his more than 150 pieces for the magazine.
Between 1967 and 1997, George Steiner wrote more than 130 pieces on a great range of topics for The New Yorker, making new books, difficult ideas, and unfamiliar subjects seem compelling not only to intellectuals but to “the common reader.” He possesses a famously dazzling mind: paganism, the Dutch Renaissance, children’s games, war-time Britain, Hitler’s bunker, and chivalry attract his interest as much as Levi-Strauss, Cellini, Bernhard, Chardin, Mandelstam, Kafka, Cardinal Newman, Verdi, Gogol, Borges, Brecht, Wittgenstein, Chomsky, and art historian/spy Anthony Blunt. Steiner makes an ideal guide from the Risorgimento in Italy to the literature of the Gulag, from the history of chess to the enduring importance of George Orwell. Again and again everything Steiner looks at in his New Yorker essays is made to bristle with some genuine prospect of turning out to be freshly thrilling or surprising.
Editor, author, and professor Boyers presents an important collection of work by author and social commentator George Steiner that first appeared in the pages of The New Yorker. Steiner's brilliance is revealed in every one of these essays, showcasing his vast topical knowledge alongside his deft ability to pin down the significance of history's most important people, events and ideas. Steiner hones in on figures often left in the background, such as Albert Speer, Hitler's architect and minister of armaments, who spent nearly 20 years in the prison Spandau. Steiner's 1983 examination of the George Orwell's 1984 is witty, detailed and authoritative, proving an insightful look at the novel's importance even after some 35 years of scholarly attention. Steiner's essays are each marvelously executed feats of synthesis, internalizing, interpreting and contrasting timeless events, literature and figures (including Graham Greene, Borges, chess playing and the OED). Steiner's intelligence and intuitiveness won't fail to impress, providing ample justification for his three decades as a powerful cultural critic.