Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution

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HarperCollins, Aug 23, 2022 - Fiction - 560 pages
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Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller from the author of The Poppy War  

“Absolutely phenomenal. One of the most brilliant, razor-sharp books I've had the pleasure of reading that isn't just an alternative fantastical history, but an interrogative one; one that grabs colonial history and the Industrial Revolution, turns it over, and shakes it out.” -- Shannon Chakraborty, bestselling author of The City of Brass

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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rivkat - LibraryThing

et in an alternate world where Britain rules the seas and much of the land in part because of its near-monopoly on the magical powers of silver through its near-monopoly on translation. If properly ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - antao - LibraryThing

Mr Leopold Bloom's solution for constipation in general (from James Joyce's "Ulysses"): "Quietly he read, restraining himself, the first column and, yielding but resisting, began the second. Midway ... Read full review

Contents

Cover
Chapter
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter TwentyOne
Chapter TwentyTwo
Chapter TwentyThree
Chapter TwentyFour
Chapter TwentyFive
Chapter TwentySix
Chapter TwentySeven
Chapter TwentyEight

Chapter Nine
Chapter
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter TwentyNine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter ThirtyTwo
Chapter ThirtyThree
Epilogue
Acknowledgements

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About the author (2022)

Rebecca F. Kuang is a Marshall Scholar, Chinese-English translator, and the Astounding Award-winning and the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award nominated author of the Poppy War trilogy and the forthcoming Babel. Her work has won the Crawford Award and the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel. She has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford; she is now pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale.

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