Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies


George Steiner's after Babel1

Edward Ullendorff

In coming to talk about George Steiner's extraordinary tour de force, a work that was clearly designed to be a masterpiece and so narrowly and peculiarly falls short of that aim, I feel rather like an inverted Balaam, for unlike Balaam I came to bless and not to curse, to appreciate and not to disparage. And now I stand here, not without awe before so monumental an achievement, yet full of doubts, questions, uncertainty, even some distrust.


1 Text of a paper read to the British Association for Jewish Studies, meeting at Oxford on 21 July 1975.