Real Presences: Is There Anything in What We Say? and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Trade in Yours
For a 2.52 Gift Card
Trade in
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading Real Presences: Is There Anything in What We Say? on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Real Presences [Paperback]

4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 4.79  
Hardcover --  
Paperback --  

Book Description

23 April 1991
Can there be major dimensions of a poem, a painting, a musical composition created in the absence of God? Or, is God always a real presence in the arts? Steiner passionately argues that a transcendent reality grounds all genuine art and human communication."A real tour de force. . . . All the virtues of the author's astounding intelligence and compelling rhetoric are evident from the first sentence onward."--Anthony C. Yu, "Journal of Religion"

Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (23 April 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226772349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226772349
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 492,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

About the Author

George Steiner has written a great many books during his long and distinguished career as a literary critic, essayist, philosopher, novelist, translator, and educator. He was professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Geneva, Lord Weidenfeld Professor of Comparative Literature and Fellow of St Anne's College at Oxford University, and Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
We speak still of 'sunrise' and 'sunset'. Read the first page
Explore More
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

3 star
2 star
1 star
4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp slivers of ungraspable intelligence 29 Nov 2006
In 'Grammars of Creation,' George Steiner will speculate on whether truly atheistic art is possible (he will suspect that it is) and on what poetry, music, painting done in a sense of radical spritual solitude might consist of. Here, he is more interested in the act of reading (he might say the act of 'living' the work of art), and whether we can respond in any meaningful way to serious art in the absence of any sense of transcendance.

The backdrop to 'Real Presences' is this: between 1870 and 1940, what the author calls the 'covenent' between word and world is broken for the first time, in any thorough and consequent sense, in European, Central European and Russian culture and speculative consciousness (from Mallarmé's 'l'absence de toute rose' and Rimbaud's 'Je est un autre' to Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and others). For Steiner, steeped not just in aesthetic philosophy but in Sprachkritik, linguistics and the hermeneutic tradition, this constitutes one of the few genuine revolutions of spirit in Western history. Modernity itself is defined by it.

Steiner defines the arts as 'the maximalisation of semantic incommensurability in respect of the formal means of expression.' The arts 'mean,' and they do so in overabundance. However, he asks, can we grasp the meaning of those multifarious meanings a-theistically, which is to say, without resorting to the intuition, however undefined or focused, of 'Real Presences'?

'Serious painting, music, literature or sculpture,' he writes, 'make palpable to us, as do no other means of communication, the unassuaged, unhoused instability and estrangement of our condition. We are, at key instants, strangers to ourselves, errant at the gates of our own psyche.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rewarding, if difficult read 18 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was introduced to this book 3 years ago whilst reading Richard Holmes' 2 volume biography of Coleridge. I had been particularly interested in Coleridge, because I found out that even in the grips of an Opium addiction he had travelled to Germany in 1789-90 (at first with Wordsworth) in order to learn German so that he could read Immanuel Kant on Metaphysics in the original language. As yet there was no English translation, only hearsay. Having myself struggled immensely to get to grips with reading Kant in English, I was under no illusion about the sheer genius of Coleridge actually to undersdtand what Kant had to say. Kant argues for the reality of the transcendent, and in reading him Coleridge himself took on a similar position in opposition to the scepticism of Hartley and Hume.
In a footnote in Holmes' Biography (Vol 1 p 320) he recommends the essay - our present book - by George Steiner, who had been his mentor, in these words. "Beyond the problem of 'personal authenticity' seems to be the question whether life - or literature - can have meaning without some form of Divine continuity or assurance within the structure of reality. These difficult issues have been most recently raised by Geoge Steiner in 'Real Presences'".
This is a very difficult read - Class 5 in mountain climbing terms - and after reading it 3 times I think I begin to understand what is being said and why it is so important in our current cultural and religious climate.
By looking at our 'poietics' - literature, art and music - he makes a case that all significant art forms are underwritten or guaranteed by the presence of Word or Logos, and Divine Logos at that.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
No where is J. Adler's maxim proved more true than here: "Good books are over your head; they would not be good for you if they were not." George Steiner's articulate thesis is that the assumption of God's presence may well be the the forgotten but necessary ground of all art and human dialogue. If this little volume cannot make you a "believer," it will be hard to find one that can. Get the paperback edition -- than after you have savored it, you may well want the hardback.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category