My Unwritten Books by George Steiner

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By one of the world's foremost literary critics, George Steiner's My Unwritten Books meditates upon seven books he had long had in mind to write, but never did. Massively erudite, the essays are also brave, unflinching, and wholly personal.

In this fiercely original and audacious work, George Steiner tells of seven books which he did not write. Because intimacies and indiscretions were too threatening. Because the topic brought too much pain. Because its emotional or intellectual challenge proved beyond his capacities.

The actual themes range widely and defy conventional taboos: the torment of the gifted when they live among—when they confront—the very great; the experience of sex in different languages; a love for animals greater than for human beings; the costly privilege of exile; a theology of emptiness.

Yet a unifying perception underlies this diversity. The best we have or can produce is only the tip of the iceberg. Behind every good book, as in a lit shadow, lies the book which remained unwritten, the one that would have failed better.

About George Steiner

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George A. Steiner is one of the leading pioneers in the development of university curriculums, research, and scholarly writings in the field of business, government, and society. In 1983 he was the recipient of the first Sumner Marcus Award for distinguised achievement in the field by the Social Issues in Management Division of the Academy of Management. In 1990 he received the Distinguished Educator Award, given for the second time by the Academy of Management. After receiving his B.S. in business administration at Temple University, he was awarded an M.A. in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois. He is the author of many books and articles. Two of his books received "book-of-the-year" awards. In recognition of his writings, Temple Univesity awarded him a Litt.D. honorary degree. Professor Steiner has held top-level positions in the federal government and in industry, includuing corporate board directorships. Past president of the Academy of Management and co-founder of The California Management Review, he is Harry and Elsa Kunin Professor of Business and Society and Professor Management, Emeritus, Anderson School, UCLA.
Published January 1, 2008 by New Directions Publ.. 224 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for My Unwritten Books

The New York Times

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Some topics have proved too vexing for George Steiner to tackle in books, as he explains in this essay collection.

Feb 24 2008 | Read Full Review of My Unwritten Books

The Guardian

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The magisterial chapters on Joseph Needham, Zionism and man's relations with animals reveal the range and facility of one of Europe's finest literary critics, a thinker whose obsessive quest for the "covenant of speech and being" has led him far beyond the trails of specialist scholarship.

Feb 14 2009 | Read Full Review of My Unwritten Books

The Guardian

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As conceits go, it's certainly conceited: a collection of seven essays, each detailing a book that George Steiner abandoned at the planning stage.

Jan 23 2009 | Read Full Review of My Unwritten Books

The Independent

George Steiner, that magnificent combination of polyglot and polymath, writes of the books that he might have written: seven works which he had hoped to complete but, for one reason or another, proved too difficult to pull together.

Feb 03 2008 | Read Full Review of My Unwritten Books

The Independent

Steiner explores Needham as both an ideal version of himself ("Was there anything he hadn't read and read retentively") while exposing his fatal flaw ("In his 'China' no less than his radical politics, utopia was concrete").

Feb 01 2008 | Read Full Review of My Unwritten Books

Book Forum

He begins with “Chinoiserie,” the story of his unwritten book on Joseph Needham (1900–1995), whose thirty-tome Science and Civilization in China Steiner perceived as the focus of a possible study of the world of those driven to look “into the maelstrom of the fact.” He found that Needham’s belie...

Sep 03 2014 | Read Full Review of My Unwritten Books

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