Lessons of the Masters [NOOK Book]

Overview


A thought-provoking examination of the complex teacher-student relationship, from one of the great minds of the modern literary world

Based on George Steiner’s extensive experience as a teacher, Lessons of the Masters is a passionate examination of the “profession of the professor.” He writes about what empowers one person to teach another, and explores the complexities and nuances of this bond. From the charismatic master to the loving ...
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Lessons of the Masters

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Overview


A thought-provoking examination of the complex teacher-student relationship, from one of the great minds of the modern literary world

Based on George Steiner’s extensive experience as a teacher, Lessons of the Masters is a passionate examination of the “profession of the professor.” He writes about what empowers one person to teach another, and explores the complexities and nuances of this bond. From the charismatic master to the loving disciple, Steiner explores the religious, philosophical, economic, and scientific aspects of imparting knowledge, drawing upon history’s most famous teachers: Socrates, Jesus, Faust, Virgil, Dante, Heloise, and Abelard.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
"What empowers a man or a woman to teach another human being, where lies the wellspring of authority?" questions critic, linguist, and sometime novelist Steiner (Grammars of Creation; Errata: An Examined Life), who uses the 2001-02 Norton Lectures to muse about the art of teaching and the complex and often destructive relationship between master and pupil. In looking at the relationships between Socrates and Plato, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, Franz Kafka and Max Brod, and Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, among others, Steiner examines the instructor's power to abuse and exploit his students, as well as the student's ability to betray and destroy his instructor. Along the way, he ponders to what extent those who teach are responsible for the misguided actions of their students and damns those in academia who attempt to right the injustices of the past by marginalizing writers like Dante and Shakespeare in favor of studying rap lyrics or Bob Dylan. Whether one agrees with him or not, there's no question that Steiner's is still among the keenest minds at work in literary studies. In fact, his erudition is almost too dazzling. Even with such a modest-sized volume, reading his work can feel a bit like dodging oncoming traffic. References and ideas whiz by so quickly that one wishes Steiner could slow down and sustain a thread for more than a few pages. Still, this is a fine work by a great writer and should be an essential purchase for most academic libraries.-William D. Walsh, Georgia State Univ., Atlanta Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Financial Times

"Why do we constantly degrade or lampoon teachers? What they do is how civilizations are built - 'no craft more privileged' says George Steiner . . . Perhaps it's because too many teachers, like me, fell ignominiously short of greatness. Steiner is not one of those. In these six Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, he brings his formidable charisma, his unrivalled range of reference and powers of rhetoric to bear on the peaks (as well as some troughs) of pedagogy, in history and literature: Socrates and Alcibiades, the parables of Christ, Faust, Virgil and Dante, Abelard and Eloise . . . Like his hero Socrates, Steiner professes to have few answers, but his questions sweep you along."
— Robin Blake

Globe and Mail

Steiner's scope of reference is daunting, massive, seemingly pan-textual and perhaps spilling sloppily over the edges of a short book like this one. But one of the pleasures of reading his reticulate, compounded, prodigious and forceful prose style has always been the knowledge that we're getting more than we bargained for, that the exegete's high-octane gloss on seven words from The Inferno might outstrip our urge to reread The Inferno. Fine with me: The man is impassioned. And his goal, what he wants passed on to his readers, seems nothing less than a reminder of what constitutes la société libre, a cultured populace willing to ingest, learn from and, when necessary, refute the Masters.
— Ken Babstock

The Times

Steiner's Lessons of the Masters sets forth the disturbing complexity of the relationship between teacher and pupil, master and disciple...Some of the best writing in Steiner's book is scorching characterisation—of bad teachers, of the politically correct, and the hypocrites who would deny the erotic element in the teacher-pupil relationship.
— Germaine Greer

The Observer

Steiner has addressed the whole topic of 'masters'...and their students or disciples, and what the whole vexed process of the passing on of wisdom involves. Lessons of the Masters, based on Steiner's Norton lectures, explores those exceptional souls who attempted to divine, unpick or wrestle with truth and their dramatic and often complicated relationships with their followers...It is the urgent sense of the unquantifiable but irreplaceable value of teaching that gives Lessons of the Masters its force.
— Salley Vickers

Times Higher Education Supplement

Steiner...[explores] the ways in which the evolution of the art of knowledge has been accompanied by an evolved symbiosis of attraction and subversion, a reciprocity of trust and love passing between disciple and provider of knowledge...In this small volume, Steiner provides what must be his most dazzling spectacle of poly-scholarship. Judaism, Confucianism, Zen, Christianity, mathematics, science, the sportsfield, pop music, the classics are all quarried for analogues and examples. In each lecture, he provides wonderful examples of the internal politics of apprenticeship.
— Anthony Smith

Irish Times

The debt owed to [Steiner] by his readers...cannot be acknowledged too often...The rewards and privileges of teaching, as well as the fearsome weight of responsibility that the teacher takes on, is [one] of the themes that recur repeatedly in these pages. Good teachers, [Steiner] speculates, may be rarer than artists or sages...There is, he says, no craft more privileged, or more vital to society's health. This is a book which every person interested in culture should read, but it should act especially as a tonic for teachers in these grey times.
— John Banville

Los Angeles Times

This latest book by George Steiner is a series of reflections on 'the charged personal encounter between master and disciple'...If his book is, as he concedes, a mere 'summary introduction,' it is also the most trenchant and moving account we have of a theme few writers have treated with comparable panache and thoughtfulness...What can happen when one human being attempts to teach another? To this question Steiner attends with unapologetic passion and urgency...The theatrical language is a hallmark of Steiner's writing and perfectly conveys his conviction that teaching well is a sacred obligation, and that what sometimes happens to a lucky student is momentous...There are provocative formulations in Steiner, stabs of brilliant color, flarings of metaphor. Nothing lies limp on the page. What might in other hands seem gray or cautionary bristles with implication...The effect of his book is to make us understand that there are many variants of the successful master-disciple relation and that the besetting sin educators must tirelessly address is the tendency to regard teaching as little more than a job and students as those who are merely trained to perform tasks. In his forays into numerous exemplary instances, Steiner demonstrates what it means to think about teaching and learning with all one's heart and with the indispensable assistance of prodigious learning.
— Robert Boyers

The Guardian

[Steiner's] learning is certainly on display in Lessons of the Masters... Some of the finest passages in the book are impassioned definitions of the act of teaching...It seems only appropriate that in this and other recent books, he should turn his attention to his own profession, with something of the spirit of civic responsibility. Yet despite the plaudits and honours, George Steiner cuts a strikingly lonely figure as he champions the life of the mind and its great practitioners. He does so in a world largely given over to a different kind of celebrity.
— Stephen Romer

Bloomsbury Review

George Steiner's reflections on the electric relationship between teacher and student takes the reader on a high-speed rollercoaster ride to visit the greatest figures of Western civilization...An impassioned pedagogue himself, Steiner is fascinated by the highly charged dialectic that has existed for time immemorial in the pursuit of meaning and understanding...Relationships of such profound influence can likewise be misunderstood, misused, perverted, and persecuted. Such is the drama that surrounds every great master of Western culture. One need only recall the dreadful end that befell the likes of Socrates, Empedocles, Jesus, and St. Paul. Where there is great mastery, there is likewise great jealousy, treachery, threat, and fear. Steiner passionately throws out a wide and undaunted net of inquiry into this perennially prickly and powerful subject.
— Patty Podhaisky

APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy

This heavily referenced work deserves a place in every serious educator's library...Steiner provides a rich narrative of the lives, historical and literary, of master teachers and their craft...This richly detailed examination of master teachers through the ages offers much to contemporary teachers. It is filled with a deep respect and value of a spirituality that recognizes the worth of individuals who go beyond reasonable expectations to ask more of themselves and their charges as they demonstrate the possibilities of living a life exalted by wisdom. Master teachers do not call for a kind of religious orthodoxy or adherence to any favored dogma, such as religions tend to propagate and require. Instead, Steiner advocates the need for teachers to discover their potential to inspire an awakening among students, similar to the Far East practices of Zen. This new sort of master teacher as spiritual motivator, community builder, and role model is a noble challenge to set before contemporary educators, who could begin to counteract what Steiner refers to as the "emptiness in modernity" that pervades our culture and times...Teachers would be well advised to listen to this advice.
— Rick Heckendorn

Financial Times - Robin Blake
Why do we constantly degrade or lampoon teachers? What they do is how civilizations are built - 'no craft more privileged' says George Steiner . . . Perhaps it's because too many teachers, like me, fell ignominiously short of greatness. Steiner is not one of those. In these six Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, he brings his formidable charisma, his unrivalled range of reference and powers of rhetoric to bear on the peaks (as well as some troughs) of pedagogy, in history and literature: Socrates and Alcibiades, the parables of Christ, Faust, Virgil and Dante, Abelard and Eloise . . . Like his hero Socrates, Steiner professes to have few answers, but his questions sweep you along.
Globe and Mail - Ken Babstock
Steiner's scope of reference is daunting, massive, seemingly pan-textual and perhaps spilling sloppily over the edges of a short book like this one. But one of the pleasures of reading his reticulate, compounded, prodigious and forceful prose style has always been the knowledge that we're getting more than we bargained for, that the exegete's high-octane gloss on seven words from The Inferno might outstrip our urge to reread The Inferno. Fine with me: The man is impassioned. And his goal, what he wants passed on to his readers, seems nothing less than a reminder of what constitutes la société libre, a cultured populace willing to ingest, learn from and, when necessary, refute the Masters.
The Times - Germaine Greer
Steiner's Lessons of the Masters sets forth the disturbing complexity of the relationship between teacher and pupil, master and disciple...Some of the best writing in Steiner's book is scorching characterisation--of bad teachers, of the politically correct, and the hypocrites who would deny the erotic element in the teacher-pupil relationship.
The Observer - Salley Vickers
Steiner has addressed the whole topic of 'masters'...and their students or disciples, and what the whole vexed process of the passing on of wisdom involves. Lessons of the Masters, based on Steiner's Norton lectures, explores those exceptional souls who attempted to divine, unpick or wrestle with truth and their dramatic and often complicated relationships with their followers...It is the urgent sense of the unquantifiable but irreplaceable value of teaching that gives Lessons of the Masters its force.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Anthony Smith
Steiner...[explores] the ways in which the evolution of the art of knowledge has been accompanied by an evolved symbiosis of attraction and subversion, a reciprocity of trust and love passing between disciple and provider of knowledge...In this small volume, Steiner provides what must be his most dazzling spectacle of poly-scholarship. Judaism, Confucianism, Zen, Christianity, mathematics, science, the sportsfield, pop music, the classics are all quarried for analogues and examples. In each lecture, he provides wonderful examples of the internal politics of apprenticeship.
Irish Times - John Banville
The debt owed to [Steiner] by his readers...cannot be acknowledged too often...The rewards and privileges of teaching, as well as the fearsome weight of responsibility that the teacher takes on, is [one] of the themes that recur repeatedly in these pages. Good teachers, [Steiner] speculates, may be rarer than artists or sages...There is, he says, no craft more privileged, or more vital to society's health. This is a book which every person interested in culture should read, but it should act especially as a tonic for teachers in these grey times.
Los Angeles Times - Robert Boyers
This latest book by George Steiner is a series of reflections on 'the charged personal encounter between master and disciple'...If his book is, as he concedes, a mere 'summary introduction,' it is also the most trenchant and moving account we have of a theme few writers have treated with comparable panache and thoughtfulness...What can happen when one human being attempts to teach another? To this question Steiner attends with unapologetic passion and urgency...The theatrical language is a hallmark of Steiner's writing and perfectly conveys his conviction that teaching well is a sacred obligation, and that what sometimes happens to a lucky student is momentous...There are provocative formulations in Steiner, stabs of brilliant color, flarings of metaphor. Nothing lies limp on the page. What might in other hands seem gray or cautionary bristles with implication...The effect of his book is to make us understand that there are many variants of the successful master-disciple relation and that the besetting sin educators must tirelessly address is the tendency to regard teaching as little more than a job and students as those who are merely trained to perform tasks. In his forays into numerous exemplary instances, Steiner demonstrates what it means to think about teaching and learning with all one's heart and with the indispensable assistance of prodigious learning.
The Guardian - Stephen Romer
[Steiner's] learning is certainly on display in Lessons of the Masters... Some of the finest passages in the book are impassioned definitions of the act of teaching...It seems only appropriate that in this and other recent books, he should turn his attention to his own profession, with something of the spirit of civic responsibility. Yet despite the plaudits and honours, George Steiner cuts a strikingly lonely figure as he champions the life of the mind and its great practitioners. He does so in a world largely given over to a different kind of celebrity.
Bloomsbury Review - Patty Podhaisky
George Steiner's reflections on the electric relationship between teacher and student takes the reader on a high-speed rollercoaster ride to visit the greatest figures of Western civilization...An impassioned pedagogue himself, Steiner is fascinated by the highly charged dialectic that has existed for time immemorial in the pursuit of meaning and understanding...Relationships of such profound influence can likewise be misunderstood, misused, perverted, and persecuted. Such is the drama that surrounds every great master of Western culture. One need only recall the dreadful end that befell the likes of Socrates, Empedocles, Jesus, and St. Paul. Where there is great mastery, there is likewise great jealousy, treachery, threat, and fear. Steiner passionately throws out a wide and undaunted net of inquiry into this perennially prickly and powerful subject.
APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy - Rick Heckendorn
This heavily referenced work deserves a place in every serious educator's library...Steiner provides a rich narrative of the lives, historical and literary, of master teachers and their craft...This richly detailed examination of master teachers through the ages offers much to contemporary teachers. It is filled with a deep respect and value of a spirituality that recognizes the worth of individuals who go beyond reasonable expectations to ask more of themselves and their charges as they demonstrate the possibilities of living a life exalted by wisdom. Master teachers do not call for a kind of religious orthodoxy or adherence to any favored dogma, such as religions tend to propagate and require. Instead, Steiner advocates the need for teachers to discover their potential to inspire an awakening among students, similar to the Far East practices of Zen. This new sort of master teacher as spiritual motivator, community builder, and role model is a noble challenge to set before contemporary educators, who could begin to counteract what Steiner refers to as the "emptiness in modernity" that pervades our culture and times...Teachers would be well advised to listen to this advice.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781480411876
  • Publisher: Open Road Media
  • Publication date: 4/16/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


George Steiner, author of dozens of books (including The Death of Tragedy, After Babel, Martin Heidegger, In Bluebeard’s Castle, My Unwritten Books, George Steiner at the New Yorker, and The Poetry of Thought), is one of the world’s foremost intellectuals. He has been professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at the University of Geneva, professor of comparative literature and fellow at the University of Oxford, and professor of poetry at Harvard University. He lives in Cambridge, England, where he has been an Extraordinary Fellow at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge since 1969. 
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1. Lasting Origins 7
2. Rain of Fire 39
3. Magnificus 63
4. Maitres a Penser 92
5. On Native Ground 124
6. Unaging Intellect 149
Afterword 179
Index 186
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