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

de R. F. Kuang

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
4,9431152,265 (4.03)150
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?… (mais)
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This is a romp! Written with great confidence and flair by a precociously talented young author, the reader is taken for a grand ride. There is Oxford, colonialism, racism, magic and much more. What is there not to like?
The writing is so clean and clear, that the improbabilities in the plot caused barely a shrug from this reader. And the sceptical analysis of colonialism is timely.
I'll be back for more from Ms Kuang. ( )
  mbmackay | Jun 16, 2024 |
I liked the themes of this book a lot more than I liked the writing. The idea for how the magic works is so neat. But the writing was just … meh. ( )
  RaynaPolsky | Jun 6, 2024 |
I loved Yellowface but found this Kuang book to be didactic and repetitive with no world-building and mediocre character development. While it feels ambitious - 500+ pages, footnotes, Chinese language characters, word etymologies, and the history of British colonialism and the industrial revolution - the memorable and impactful pieces of the narrative would occupy about 250 pages if they weren't repeated over and over in slightly different ways. The work excels in its depiction of the student experience in an exclusive field of study at a prestigious college. But even that becomes repetitive and tiresome. Translation as a kind of magic is a gorgeous concept but Kuang beats it into the ground instead of nurturing it. ( )
3 vote bookappeal | Jun 3, 2024 |
This is the first time I've ever had a favorite book. It effortlessly rolls together all of my current interests (colonialism, language, history, injustice, identity, ethics, etc.) in a beautiful tale. ( )
  alexlpowell | May 30, 2024 |
Well-developed magic system. Not good for a new fantasy reader, but amazing for those who love lore and keep diving into linguistics and the origins of words. ( )
  TheDragonHoard | May 27, 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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