George Steiner Jonathan Culler - Essay

Jonathan Culler

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In Language and Silence and In Bluebeard's Castle Dr Steiner spoke of the 'retreat from the word', the distrust of language that has made us increasingly ill at ease in the interpreted world. This is still a major theme of [Extraterritorial], which takes Borges, Nabokov and Beckett as representative men, unhouseled and unhoused, warming themselves by rubbing two languages together. Their 'extraterritoriality', however, has compensatory graces: for the loss of confidence in language, the inability to feel truly 'at home' in it, is in substantial measure a reluctance to take it for granted, a painful awareness of its importance, which can lead to elegant, self-conscious artifice as well as to...

(The entire section is 969 words.)