EXTRA TERRITORIAL Books by George Steiner xtraterritorial Language and Silence Anno Domini The Death of Tragedy Tolstoy or. Extraterritorial by George Steiner, , Atheneum edition, in English - [College ed., 1st Atheneum paperback ed.]. Henri Godin; George Steiner, Extraterritorial. Papers on Literature and the This content is only available as a PDF. © The Society For.
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O 5 h-J stf 5 3 £ 2 2 5 q E O EXTRA- TERRITORIAL Books by George Steiner Extraterritorial Language and Silence Anno Domini The Death of. by: Steiner, George, Publication date External-identifier: urn:acs6: extraterritorial00stei:pdf:3baacda8fc8f7a. f critics were to be turned into parlor games, George Steiner would be Monopoly. I don't intend this to be an unkind comment, because I enjoy.
In , he was appointed Gauss Lecturer at Princeton, where he lectured for another two years.
He then became a founding fellow of Churchill College at the University of Cambridge in Steiner was initially not well received at Cambridge by the English faculty. Many disapproved of this charismatic "firebrand with a foreign accent"  and questioned the relevance of the Holocaust he constantly referred to in his lectures.
Extraterritorial : papers on literature and the language revolution
Bryan Cheyette, professor of 20th-century literature at the University of Southampton said that at the time, "Britain [ He had the option of leaving for professorships in the United States, but Steiner's father objected, saying that Hitler , who said no one bearing their name would be left in Europe, would then have won.
Steiner remained in England because "I'd do anything rather than face such contempt from my father.
After several years as a freelance writer and occasional lecturer, Steiner accepted the post of Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Geneva in ; he held this post for 20 years, teaching in four languages.
He lived by Goethe 's maxim that "no monoglot truly knows his own language. Steiner has been called "an intelligent and intellectual critic and essayist. He has written for The New Yorker for over thirty years, contributing over two hundred reviews. He advocates generalisation over specialisation, and insists that the notion of being literate must encompass knowledge of both arts and sciences. Steiner believes that nationalism is too inherently violent to satisfy the moral prerogative of Judaism, saying "that because of what we are, there are things we can't do.
As Steiner states, "My virginity offended Alfie his college room-mate. He found it ostentatious and vaguely corrupt in a nineteen-year-old He sniffed the fear in me with disdain. And marched me off to Cicero, Illinois , a town justly ill famed but, by virtue of its name, reassuring to me.
There he organized, with casual authority, an initiation as thorough as it was gentle. It is this unlikely gentleness, the caring under circumstances so outwardly crass, that blesses me still. He is reported to have said: "It's very easy to sit here, in this room, and say 'racism is horrible'. Though he does not, so far as I know, publish poetry or parables outside Spanish, Borges is another of the new "esperantists.
The other language "shines through," giving to Borges' verse and to his Fictions a quality of lightness, of universal ity. He uses the vulgate and mythology of Argentina to ballast what might otherwise be almost too abstract, too peregrine an imagination.
As it happens, these multilinguists Ezra Pound has his place in this context are among the foremost writers of the age. The equation of a single pivot of language, of native deep-rootedness, with poetic authority is again in doubt. And, if we except Latin, perhaps in real doubt for the first time.
This is a decisive aspect of Nabokov. The Nabokov bibliography is full of traps and obscuri ties. But it seems established that he has produced original work in at least three languages. I say "at least" because it may be that one story, "0. This is only one facet of Nabokov's multilingual nature. His translations, re-translations, pastiches, cross-linguistic imitations, etc. No bibliogra pher has, until now, fully unraveled it.
His Russian version of Alice in Wonderland Berlin, has long been recognized as one of the keys to the whole Nabokovian r:euvre. His Eugene Onegin, in four volumes with m ammoth textual apparatus and commentary, may prove 6 to be his perverse magnum opus. Nabokov has published a Russian text of the Prologue to Goethe's Faust.
One of his most bizarre feats is a re-translation back into English of Konstantin Bal'mont's "wretched but famous" Andrew Field : Nabokav, p.
Shades of Borges' Pierre Menard! Equally important as, if not more so than, these transla tions, mimes, canonic inversions, and pastiches of other writers-darting to and fro between Russian, French, Ger man, English, and American-are Nabokov's multilingual recastings of Nabokov. Not only is he, together with his son Dimitri Nabokov, the principal translator into English of his own early Russian novels and tales, but he has trans lated? Lolita back?
I have no hesitation in arguing that this polylinguistic matrix is the determining fact of Nabokov's life and art, or, as Field more aptly phrases it, "life in art. This obsession is, of course, not wholly of Nabokov's choosing. As he points out with tireless, aggrieved insistence, the po litical barbarism of the century made him an exile, a wan derer, a Hotelmensch, not only from his Russian homeland but from the matchless Russian tongue in which his genius would have found its unforced idiom.
This is obviously the case. But, whereas so many other language exiles clung desperately to the artifice of their native tongue or fell si lent, Nabokov moved into successive languages like a traveling potentate.
Banished from Fialta, he has built for himself a house of words. To be specific: the multilingual, cross-linguistic situation is both the matter and form of Nabokov's work the two are, no doubt, inseparable and Pale Fire is the parable of their fusion.
It would be by no means eccentric to read the major part 7 of Nabokov's opus as a meditation-lyric, ironic, technical, parodistic-on the nature of human language, on the enigmatic coexistence of different, linguistically generated world visions and of a deep current underlying, and at moments obscurely conjoining, the multitude of diverse tongues.
The Gift, Lolita, and Ada are tales of the erotic relations between speaker and speech and, more precisely, laments, often as formal and plangent as the funeral ora tions of the baroque, for Nabokov's separation from the one true beloved, "my Russian language. The theme haunts Speak, Memory, to me the most humane and modest of Nabokov's books.
It comes through penetratingly even in the more didactic, explicitly technical of Nabokov's pronouncements.
As he told his Wellesley students in , "You can, and should, speak Russian with a permanent broad smile. This also, I would judge, is the source of the motif of in cest, so prevalent throughout Nabokov's fiction and central to Ada.
Incest is a trope through which Nabokov drama tizes his abiding devotion to Russian, the dazzling in fidelities which exile has forced on him, and the unique intimacy he has achieved with his own writings as begetter, translator, and re-translator. Mirrors, incest, and a con stant meshing of languages are the cognate centers of N abokov's art.
This leads, inevitably, to the question of "Nabokese," the Anglo-American interlingua in which Nabokov has produced the bulk of his work since the early 's.
There are those who regard the language of Lolita and its suc cessors as a wonder of invention, elegance, and wit. To other ears, Nabokov's prose is a macaronic, precious, maddeningly opaque and self-conscious piece of candy floss.
It is alien not only in details of lexical usage, but in its primary rhythms, which go against the natural grain of 8 English and American speech. In the main, this kind of disagreement is a matter of olives : one has the taste or one doesn't. At a first reading, Ada in so many ways a varia tion on the themes of Pale Fire seems self-indulgent and, at many points, irredeemably overwritten.
The Newspeak of Ardor is often on the same predictable level of ingenuity as double acrostics. The mixture of English, French, Rus sian, and private esperanto is labored. It is as if Nabokov had been mastered by that multilingual dilemma which has, until now, been so notably in his control.
papers on literature and the language revolution
But, with a writer of this reach, first readings are always inadequate. Lived with, the layer cake in Ada may prove a culinary find. It is, I feel, less profitable at this stage to debate over the merits or vices of "Nabokese" than it is to throw light on its sources and fabric. We need really detailed study of the quality and degree of pressure which Russian puts on Nabokov's Anglo American.
How often are his English sentences "meta translations" of Russian?
To what extent do Russian se mantic associations initiate the images and contour of the English phrase? Especially, we need an authoritative con cordance of Nabokov's Russian poetry and English prose.
I suspect that many of the characteristic motions of style in Nabokov's fiction since Sebastian Knight embody a resur rection of, or variation on, the poetry which Nabokov pro duced in Russian from to Whole episodes in Lolita and Ada, as well as the Augustan mock-epic pastiche in Pale Fire, appear to have precise roots in Russian poems, some of which go back to the early 's. Is a good deal of Nabokov's English a piece of smuggling, an illicit con veyance across the frontier, of Russian verse now captive in a society he contemns?
We also require careful analysis of the local and literary background of Nabokov's English. Its aesthetics, its par ticular rhetoric, the ideals of exact profusion and ironic pedantry it aims at, can be placed. We find them in the Cambridge which Nabokov attended as an undergraduate, 9 and in related Bloomsbury.
Allowing for all that the book owes to Gogol, I find it difficult to dissociate Lolita from the English versions of art nouveau, from the colorations of Beardsley, Wilde, and Firbank. The lordly asperities and glissandos of condescension which are so distinctive of the Nabokov tone can be paralleled in Lytton Strachey, Max Beerbohm, and the early Evelyn Waugh. Indeed, the whole stance of the amateurjamatore of genius, fastidiously at ease in a dozen branches of arcane learning, always turn ing toward the golden afternoons and vintages of the past, is demonstrably late Edwardian and Georgian.
That Nabokov's earliest translations and vignettes should con cern Rupert Brooke and Cambridge is indicative.
Much in his art, and much that now seems most idiosyncratic or original, is a re-invention of that lost world of white flannels and honey for tea. In the England of Virginia Woolf, Nabokov found interwoven the two principal "topics" of his sensibility: the lilac summers of a lost, aristocratic order, and the erotic ambiguities of Lewis Carroll. One would want to know also what forms of American vulgate and American literature if he read any bore in on Nabo kov after All these would be preliminary lines of inquiry toward getting right the "strangeness," the polysemic nature of Nabokov's uses of language[s].
They would clarify not only his own prodigious talent, but such larger questions as the condition of multilingual imagining, of internalized translation, of the possible existence of a private mixed idiom "beneath," "coming before" the localization of dif ferent languages in the articulate brain.
Like Barges whom he cheaply and self-betrayingly mocks in Ada Nabokov is a writer who works very near the intricate threshold of syntax; he experiences linguistic forms in a state of manifold potentiality and, moving across ver naculars, is able to keep words and phrases in a charged, unstable mode of vitality.
Beyond the personal case, more over, we find the representative stance, or, rather, motion. No exile is more radical, no feat of adaptation and new life more demanding.
It seems proper that those who create art in a civilization of quasi-barbarism which has made so many homeless, which has torn up tongues and peoples by the root, should themselves be poets unhoused and wanderers across language. Eccentric, aloof, nostalgic, deliberately untimely as he aspires to be and so often is, Nabokov remains, by virtue of his extraterritoriality, pro foundly of our time, and one of its spokesmen.
Henry James was "the Master" not only or even mainly by virtue of his gifts but because his manner of life, his style , even on trivial occasions, expressed the compul sive ministry of great art. Today there is reason to suppose that Samuel Beckett is the writer par excellence, that other playwrights and novelists find in him the concentrated shadow of their strivings and privations.John of the Cross and of the mystic tradition.
George Steiner bibliography
In the other direction, I mean from top to bottom, it was the same, the word is not too strong. Its aesthetics, its par ticular rhetoric, the ideals of exact profusion and ironic pedantry it aims at, can be placed. The really deep divergence between the humanistic and scientific sensibilities is one of temporality. Reading proofs. You wouldn't at all know that from "Extraterritorial," and more's the pity.
This condition deter mined his equal currency in French and in German and gave to his German poetry a particular genius. He misconstrues the internal coherence of the theory of transformational generative grammar; he seems oblivious to the concept of linguistic levels; distorts the conception and importance of the study of linguistic universals which he seems to identify primarily with universal deep structures ; misestimates the role of formalism within the theory; and fails to comprehend some of its specific implications for adequate methods of translation and the distinction between communication and the study of human language.
His book fairly bristles with promises of a forthcoming "full-scale study of the poetics of multilingualism and of translation," as well as with hectoring reminders of what it is "we need now.
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