The French-US scholar passed away in Cambridge, where he spent half a century as an Extraordinary Fellow at Churchill College. Born to Austrian Jewish parents in France in 1929, Francis George Steiner and his family fled to the US in 1940. Described by literary critic Maya Jaggi as “a polyglot and polymath”, Steiner was a divisive figure.
The broad scope of his work – which included linguistics, philosophy and literary criticism – was praised as much by his admirers as it was disapproved of by others.
As one critic wrote in The New York Times in 2009: His bracing virtue his ability to move from Pythagoras, through Aristotle and Dante, to Nietzsche and Tolstoy in a single paragraph. His irritating vice has been that he can move from Pythagoras, through Aristotle and Dante, to Nietzsche and Tolstoy in a single paragraph.”