Latest Issue

George Steiner: the outsider who changed the cultural landscape of Britain

The writer and academic, who has died at the age of 90, brought European philosophy into an insular intellectual world

By David Herman  

George Steiner, pictured here in 2013, has died aged 90. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Prospect composite

In his 1997 memoir, Errata, George Steiner describes calling on the Oxford don Humphry House shortly before his doctoral viva: “On his Victorian lectern lay the handsomely printed text of my Chancellor’s English Essay Prize. I waited, I ached for some allusion to it. It came when I was already at the door. ‘Ah yes, yes, your pamphlet. A touch dazzling, wouldn’t you say?’”

Two things are striking about this passage. First, the crushing put-down—“a…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect