The ordinary man casts a shadow in a way we do not quite understand. The man of genius casts light. - George Steiner
George Steiner, unquestionably one of the most perceptive and linguistically sensitive of contemporary critics, offers in Antigones a major contribution to twentieth century literary criticism. In his earlier work After Babel (1975), which has already become a landmark study of language and translation, Steiner uses the biblical metaphor of the Tower of Babel in Genesis to underscore the complex layerings of meaning surrounding a text, the fluctuating historical and cultural connotations of words which make exact translation virtually impossible.
In Antigones, subtitled "How the Antigone legend has endured in Western Literature, Art, and Thought", he accomplishes the almost impossible task of tracing the Antigone theme in literature from the original tragedy through more than two milleniums of literature. A study in the act of reading while considering other arts as well suggests the transcendent quality of this work. For example, the musical presentations of this theme are discussed considering works by Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens, Orff, and Honegger. By the conclusion of the final chapter the cumulative effect of this seemingly slight work is simply overwhelming (as is much of Steiner's ouevre).
Antigones by George Steiner. Oxford, New York. 1984.