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Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An…
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Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution (utgåvan 2023)

av R. F Kuang (Autor)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4,177922,792 (4.03)132
From award-winning author R. F. Kuang comes Babel, a thematic response to The Secret History? and a tonal retort to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell that grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of language and translation as the dominating tool of the British empire. Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal. 1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he'll enroll in Oxford University's prestigious Royal Institute of Translation-also known as Babel. Babel is the world's center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver working- the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars- has made the British unparalleled in power, as its knowledge serves the Empire's quest for colonization. For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide... Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence?… (mer)
Medlem:BookishBurns
Titel:Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution
Författare:R. F Kuang (Autor)
Info:Harper Voyager (2023), 560 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution av R.F. Kuang

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» Se även 132 omnämnanden

engelska (89)  tyska (1)  Alla språk (90)
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My most anticipated book of 2022 and it did not disappoint for a single, solitary word (although this is R.F. Kuang here, so no one should be surprised). "Babel" is the absolute pinnacle of dark academia for many reasons, but largely because Kuang explores exactly what it is that makes academia dark: the inherent and inextricable foundations of which academia and its many institutions are built, a foundation of colonialism, racism, exploitation, and violence. "Babel" is also a love story to languages, words, and those nerdy little bits of linguistics that are fascinating although often overlooked.
Everyone should read this book, let it soak into their minds, reread it, and learn from it. There is simply no other book like "Babel". ( )
  deborahee | Feb 23, 2024 |
From the beginning, Babel was a book that made my heart hurt. It does such an excellent job of portraying individual and systemic racism, colonialism, and exploitation that I could keenly feel Robin's pain and loss from the very first. I could see how he had little choice except to sign on as a ward of the professor. I believed it gave him the best chance for a future. And yet I objected to so many aspects of it on his behalf. I'm sure that was the point, since this was only the beginning of a novel that dives deeply into these subjects. It increased my understanding. It made me question what can be done and how. Because even though the era of the British Empire is past, its legacy lives on, and I live in a modern superpower.

The book is also excellently written. I highlighted no fewer than twenty different quotes, so many of them so profound. The passage of time is written masterfully. Etymological tidbits are scattered just enough to act as fun and interesting little facts. Long passages of what boil down to linguistics lessons flow naturally with the rest of the narrative. And powerful emotions are invoked.

It's so clear that the author is an expert in her field and that she did diligent research and consulted with people who share the identities of characters whose experiences didn't necessarily match her own. I got to the acknowledgements section eager to give credit to the people listed there: Peng Shepherd, Ehigbor Shultz, Farah Naz Rishi, Sarah Mughal, Nathalie Gedeon, Caroline Mann, Allison Resnick, Sarah Forssman, Saoudia Ganiou, De'Andre Ferreira, Jing Tsu, Lisa Lowe, and Denise Ho, among others. The character depictions were all respectful while showing true depth. The translations, the ideas, and the depiction of Oxford all had the ring of truth, and although I'm not knowledgeable in any of these areas, I was deeply impressed.

The plot had a handful of predictable elements for me due to the effects of Chekhov's gun, but the way these elements come into play and the ultimate fates of the characters came as a surprise. There were a few moments that felt plot-necessary as opposed to being the natural results of the events that preceded them, but this was a very subtle thing. I would describe it as a connect the dots puzzle where the connections are all there—the actions are logical, the characters could believably be induced to take them, and there are events in place to act as triggers—but the dots are connected with straight lines where the greater picture would have suited gentle curves. It’s a very minor criticism, and one I’m sure other readers might disagree on. Other readers may not have noticed—or remembered—as many of the Chekov's guns as I did either, especially since it's a very long book and not everyone has the same memory for these things. I'm very much nitpicking for downsides just to present a fair evaluation.

For some readers, of course, content warnings may be a reason not to read. There certainly are depictions of racism, including racial slurs. There's also violence and death and one scene detailing physical child abuse. There's attempted sexual assault. And a lot of other things. None of these are included for shock value. In fact, they all felt very necessary to me given the topics at hand and the need to present them accurately, but readers should, as always, be aware and make choices in the interest of their own mental health.

It's also worth noting that this book took me a long time to read, and I've heard from others that it took a long time for them as well. It's not the type of novel that benefits from being rushed through, even if you are a fast reader and you have the time and inclination to try. If you decide to pick this up, I recommend factoring it into your schedule for a good while.

That being said, though, I absolutely believe this one was worth the time commitment. It's the best book I've read this year so far, and I have no doubt it will still be one of the best when December 31st rolls around. It is a great book, and I truly mean that in the sense of it being "one of the greats". If you read modern fantasy and this book is the type you might enjoy, I can't recommend it highly enough. If you like historical fiction and could be interested in a novel that uses a simple system of magic to make a fascinating bit of alternate history happen, I recommend it also. And if you haven't read much of those genres before but the concept and the topics interest you, I encourage you to jump right in. It's not a difficult book to understand, and it's not difficult at all to get invested in it.
  dste | Feb 17, 2024 |
Detailing the adventures relating to a tower at Oxford where a revolution takes place. "Translation is always an act of betrayal." Words are combined and then transcribed with silver in order to create a new reality. A book that educates the reader and makes them think about life. Mostly in agreement with other Library Thing readers who feel a bit bashed over the head with anti-colonialism. On the whole, though, a thought provoking and interesting read. ( )
  dbsovereign | Feb 13, 2024 |
Incredible ( )
  also_micah | Feb 10, 2024 |
Great framing of philosophical concepts within a compelling narrative and I recommend it for linguists especially. Towards the end felt like the author was beating me over the head with the point, and given that the ending decision was spelled out very early in the story, the last 15% of the book really dragged getting there. ( )
  countingstarships | Feb 4, 2024 |
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By the time Professor Richard Lovell found his way through Canton's narrow alleys to the faded address in his diary, the boy was the only one in the house left alive.
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From award-winning author R. F. Kuang comes Babel, a thematic response to The Secret History? and a tonal retort to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell that grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of language and translation as the dominating tool of the British empire. Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal. 1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he'll enroll in Oxford University's prestigious Royal Institute of Translation-also known as Babel. Babel is the world's center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver working- the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars- has made the British unparalleled in power, as its knowledge serves the Empire's quest for colonization. For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide... Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence?

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