Sunday, December 2, 2018

George Steiner on Readers and Intellectuals

George Steiner said abbout Chardin's "Le Philosophe Lisant":
He has his pen next to his reading. Serious reading means you read with a pen. What do you do with a pen? You underline, you take notes on the page, you write around the margin. What are you really doing? You are in dialog with the book, you are answering it, you are speaking to it, and if you are very arrogant and very ambitious, you are saying secretly, you can write a better one. And that is the beginning of a certain relationship of passionate joy and love with the text.
He defined an intellectual as "quite simply, a human being who has a pencil in his or her hand when reading a book." I like it, even if it is a bit simple-minded.[1]

2. See George Steiner, No Passion Spent: Essays 1978-1995 (New Haven: Yale U Press, 1996), p. 8. For an interesting take on pencils, see here.

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