"George Steiner, one of the great literary minds of our century, now relates the story of his own life and the ways that people, places, and events have colored the central ideas and themes of his work. His most personal book, this volume reveals Steiner's thoughts on the meaning of the western tradition and its philosophic and religious premises, his pleasure in literature and music, and his regrets about the unopened doors and untapped resources in his past." "Born in Paris in 1929 of Viennese Jewish parents, Steiner was raised speaking German, French, and English. He was educated and an educator himself in the United States and in Europe, crossing continents and cultures over the course of this troubled century. Steiner interweaves episodes from his past with thoughts about the present: he recalls, for example, how his father introduced him to the Iliad in Greek shortly before his sixth birthday, and muses about the genius of Homer; he describes the effect of the Holocaust on his family, and explores why Jews have been persecuted and have survived over the millennium; and he takes stock of science, reason, atheism, and religion in his own life and at the end of this century."--Jacket.