A George Steiner J.C. Powys Bibliography

Compiled by Chris Thomas (updated 6 Dec 2022)

A Bibliography of Books, Articles and Reviews in which Professor George Steiner cites or discusses JCP.

  • Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, 1959 - discusses JCP’s book Dostoievsky. Powys Society member Leslie Booth has a copy of this book with a dedication (March 5,1966) from Steiner to Frederick Davies, ‘both of us coming to Dostoevski through John Cowper Powys’. See Newsletter 57, March 2006, p.16 for more information.
  • Times Literary Supplement, 13 October 1961 – Exchanges between Continents: Europe and the American Audience - editorial with reference to JCP as an important modern English novelist.
  • The Times, 3 May 1962 — in an article called ‘Packing Them In’ Steiner cited JCP's books amongst his indispensable reading to take on his travels
  • Encounter, May 1962 – brief reference to JCP as a novelist in an essay on F R Leavis
  • BBC Welsh Home Service, 9 October 1962 – contribution to a tribute to JCP on the occasion of his 90th birthday
  • Sunday Times, 23 June 1963 – The Titan of Blaenau Ffestiniog - obituary of JCP
  • Sunday Times, 1 December 1963 – review of Weymouth Sands
  • The Spectator, 27 November 1964, Aged Eagle, a review of JCP's Selected Poems, edited by Kenneth Hopkins, Macdonald, 1964. Steiner says thatJohn Cowper Powys was not a poet. That is, he did not find in verse that which gives a man's use of it necessary force...There is almost nothing in the poems which Powys wrote and published as such that comes near the power of the verse attributed to Jason Otter in Wolf Solent’ and declares JCP's body of work in prose to be equal to or surpassing that of Hardy and Lawrence.
  • Sunday Times, 14 March 1965 – review of Wilson Knight’s Saturnian Quest
  • Encounter, March 1966, Pornography and the Consequences, includes a reference to the sexual audacity of John Cowper Powys's Wolf Solent and A Glastonbury Romance’ and compares JCP with the monotonous cliché of “the great liberation” associated with Maurice Girodias's Olympia Press.
  • Language and Silence, Essays on Language, Literature and the Inhuman, 1967 – includes discussion of F R Leavis’s failure to extend the reach of his criticism to JCP
  • Sunday Times, 24 May 1968 – review of James Purdy’s novel Eustace Chisholm and the Works with a note on JCP
  • Sunday Times, 9 December 1973 – Neglected Giant – an article on JCP
  • Times Literary Supplement, 15 February 1974 – letter to the editor about JCP’s literary reputation and the struggle to achieve recognition for his work
  • Times Literary Supplement, 16 May 1975 – The Problem of Powys - a long review of JCP’s Letters to Iorwerth C Peate, 1937-1954, published by University of Wales Press in 1974. Steiner’s review includes a generous tribute to Wilson Knight — ‘noblest of our critics’ — and includes many valuable insights into JCP’s novels as well as a discussion of various disagreements in the critical judgement of JCP’s work.
    'To some’, Steiner says, ‘Powys is, beyond any question, a genius, a teacher of moral and philosophic values unique in the modern context’. Steiner points to JCP’s weaknesses – he could be ‘garrulous, self-indulgent and rhetorical’ but his praise for JCP’s novels is intense – he calls Wolf Solent ‘one of the very great novels in the language’ and says of Porius that ‘it is a novel one attempts, retreats from, returns to with a deepening sense of magic and authority.’
  • After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation, 1975 – reference to JCP in ‘the first rank of English writers’.
  • On Difficulty and Other Essays, 1978 – includes discussion of JCP’s treatment of eroticism in relation to economic and class conflicts
  • No Passion Spent, Essays 1978-1996, 1996 – briefly references JCP’s vitality
  • George Steiner debated the value and role of the Nobel Prize (‘Nobel Equality?’) with Horace Engdahl, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, at the British Library in London, on 12th December 2005. When the speakers were invited to identify which writers, they thought would still be recognised and read 100 years from now Professor Steiner unhesitatingly picked John Cowper Powys and spoke admiringly of the place of Wolf Solent in world literature.
  • My Unwritten Books, 2008 – Steiner discusses ‘the interrelations between eros and language’ in the chapter called The Tongues of Eros, writing ‘The richer our lexical, grammatical inventory, the more inventive our inward orchestration. I refer again to the coruscating virtuosities of erotic self address’. He put JCP in the same rank as James Joyce in this area.