Journal Article

SILENUS' WISDOM AND THE ‘CRIME OF BEING’: THE PROBLEM OF HOPE IN GEORGE STEINER'S TRAGIC VISION<sup>1</sup>

John C McDowell

in Literature and Theology

Volume 14, issue 4, pages 385-398
Published in print December 2000 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online December 2000 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/14.4.385
SILENUS' WISDOM AND THE ‘CRIME OF BEING’: THE PROBLEM OF HOPE IN GEORGE STEINER'S TRAGIC VISION1

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Much in Steiner's writings reflects a sense of ‘crisis’ in their sensitivity to the century of devastation recently ended. It is particularly his post-Auschwitz Jewishness that informs his dark reading of tragic drama, mediated though through Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, as the ‘absolute tragedy’ that can sustain no form of hope.

This critical presentation locates a point in Steiner's writings where hope becomes vital to his endeavours—his hermeneutics of ‘presence’—while diagnosing certain problems in the texture of his Schopenhauerian-style reading of tragic dramas. And yet this hope is carefully nuanced not to evade the ‘tragic vision’, something that Steiner perceives Christian versions of hope as naively doing.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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