Short first sentence. A sentence immediately following, full of syllables and possibilities; often a semi-colon is included, to enjamb an extra layer of thought. A sentence which works its way toward unifying the three thoughts, but with a foreign phrase or intellectual reference, say to deus ex machina, to Elias Canetti. And a conclusion, always ironic and chancy, but hurled down at you to your lesser little plot of literary land, as though from Delphi to a swineherd. Which takes you to the next sentence. The topic sentence of the following paragraph is always a phrase left over from the one preceding. This is the way Steiner--earth's most extraordinary amateur reader--writes. I began mimicking this style when I was in college, to excellent success and occasional trouble, so I know the style by heart. And here, twenty years after After Babel, I finally have an opportunity to pay attention to the man behind the curtain and take a look into how the style--the style that did such service my own style--emerged. I am not at all shocked. Steiner, ever the champion of the canon and pedigree, begins life with an obsession for heraldry. His father tempts him with Greek as a dessert (Churchill, curiously and similarly, once said he would offer Greek to boys as a treat). He begins his book with a memory of the feel and smell of rain--he is surrenduring to Proust, and also to love of reading. Familiar Steiner themes emerge: the interanimation of text, the human hopelessness of ever getting to the bottom of the text, the critic's pathetic role. It is all amateurism in its most favorable and beloved sense. Not to be an amateur--not to love, to adore brilliant books--is to miss the point of it all. But then again, we are all ever missing the point, and all things are equal again. Matters of taste our, as Steiner has quoted elsewhere, non disputandum; and then he tries like hell to make sure all of our tastes are immaculate. This is Errata. After all has been written, the scintillating li! nguistic forays, the novel, the New Yorker reviews, it is the titling this book is the most artful, ironic, and canon-worthy stroke that Steiner has ever accomplished. Ever the lover of literature, ever suspicious of the precious postmodern, he is now through the looking glass, a postmodern museum-piece himself. It is, as Steiner would have it, were he allowed to see Steiner from outside Steiner--were he allowed to see Steiner the way we see Steiner--the ultimate irony.