401: Real Presences by George Steiner

by Gerard


401: Steiner, George. Real Presences. Open Road, 2013. Approx. 240 p. E-book.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 401: Philosophy and theory

George Steiner’s Real Presences is a doozy of a book. It’s short and inviting, but contains some of the most complex ideas about language and art that I have ever read. Steiner’s supposition is that while most art and literary criticism seeks to dismiss the idea of God and spirituality, it is precisely this “presence” which makes all great metaphors great. He rails against vapid academism and deliberate obscurantism. One of the things that humans human, he states, is our both our ability to visualize and enact a future-based thought and to create any and all possible combinations of language and thought. These abilities lead to transcendent thoughts, which brings one into the real presence of divine art and literature. These presences in language form the basis of spiritual thought and works. Be prepared on this one to run to a dictionary as Steiner likes to use complicated words to explicate complicated thoughts. Once you get through it, however, it is very rewarding and thought-provoking.