Steiner: "I did not have the guts."

Excerpts taken from "Of Man and Beast" in George Steiner's "My Unwritten Books" (2008):

When we look into the eyes of a chimpanzee we are looking at a sad mirror. An accusing mirror.

The pain of animals, even at a distance, blackens my mind.

It sickens my dreams, also in daylight.

It is my conviction that human cruelty, lust, territorial rapacity and arrogance exceed those of the animal order. Our maltreatment of animals, the insensate hecatombs to which we resort, as during the foot-and-mouth panic, are symptomatic of tyrannical blindness or indifference.

So long as we humiliate and massacre animals, so long as we refuse to read the signals of premonition and suffering in their eyes, there will be no end to our politics of hatred and internecine ruin.

To write my 'animal book' would have required not only eminent psychological and narrative skills. It would have necessitated raw introspection. I did not have the guts.