Francis George Steiner, FBA (born April 23, 1929), is an influential European-born American literary critic, essayist, philosopher, novelist, translator, and educator. He has written extensively about the relationship between language, literature and society, and the impact of the Holocaust. An article in The Guardian described Steiner as a "polyglot and polymath", saying that he is "often credited with recasting the role of the critic".
Among his admirers, Steiner is ranked "among the great minds in today's literary world." English novelist A. S. Byatt described him as a "late, late, late Renaissance man ... a European metaphysician with an instinct for the driving ideas of our time." Harriet Harvey-Wood, a former literature director of the British Council, saw him as a "magnificent lecturer – prophetic and doom-laden turn up with half a page of scribbled notes, and never refer to them."
Steiner was Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Geneva (1974–1994), Professor of Comparative Literature and Fellow at the University of Oxford (1994–1995) and Professor of Poetry at Harvard University (2001–2002).
He lives in Cambridge, England, where he has been Extraordinary Fellow at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge since 1969. He is married to author and historian Zara Shakow Steiner, and they have a son, David Steiner (who served as New York State's Commissioner of Education from 2009 to 2011) and a daughter, Deborah Steiner (Professor of Classics at Columbia University).
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“The immense majority of human biographies are a gray transit between domestic spasm and oblivion.”
—George Steiner (b. 1929)