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Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence. An Arcane History of the Oxford… (2022. Auflage)
von R. F. Kuang
Babel, Or, The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution von R.F. Kuang
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This was devastatingly beautiful. From the complex characters to the beautiful writing to the succinct plot and to the nuanced conversations on colonialism, racism and its ties with academia, this was excellent. I truly believe that if this was a film it would turn cinema on its head. ( )
An absolutely cracking read of an alternative history set in late-1820s Oxford in which translation and silver-working play a tremendous role. Great world-building and a really provocative premise.
Exceptional writing, clever, engaging. The story moves along well and the characters are clear, distinct from one another, and their personalities are really well developed.
The exploration of language, learning, and cultural history - the idea that understand is beautiful and necessary to thrive in any domain - is at the heart of this story can be heard through the internal dialogue all the way through the actions each person takes.
When Stephen king writes, he says he tried to develop a character and then have that character behave as their personality dictates when places in different situations- I feel RF Kaung did the same. It was delightful.
The reason for 3 stars vs 4:
The perspective and ideology- analysis of history from a post-modern perspective and the proposal that violence is logical and the only answer, is, in my opinion, myopic. This book read along Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn and Burmeses Days by Orwell would be really great additional reading to balance out the message that development of the industrial and modern age is best reduced to a history of violence.
Although it’s billed as an “alternative” history and a fantasy, the only “alternative” part of this history is the Oxford translators’ revolution itself, and the fantastical element is really unnecessary altogether except insofar as it enables the premise of the translators’ revolution. What it really is, is a thinly disguised political fiction about the history and effects (racism, poverty, income inequity, classism) of colonialism and capitalism. I must admit that I wouldn’t have read it without the promise of the window dressing of linguistics and magic, so maybe I’m judging it too harshly for failing to live up to its promise, but it didn’t seem to have much new to say on the subject of colonialism, and the characters weren’t engaging enough to make their plight into a humanizing look at the societal effects and evoke a heartfelt rather than purely intellectual empathy.
4.4 ( near to perfection )
What I loved :
It is literally a masterpiece in themes discussion of colonialism , Racism and sometimes sexism . Loved the relationship between Robin and Ramy . Also Ramy was a good Muslim rep which is a hard thing to come by . It was so exciting watching how robin is slowly getting in the dark zone . The relationship between his father and his brother was very goood . Loved the linguistics and translation discussion too much that I was raving about it to my mom at 2 am ( that comes from a person who never studied linguistics or translation so take that with a grain of salt ) , loved the magic system and how original it was , I wanted a side book with all match making possibilities
What I hated : - the pacing : the plot literally doesn't pick up until 60% I think and then everything is thrown into your face at the last part
- some characters : Victoire was so flat until the strike . Letty was so insufferable that I didn't even know why they were befriending her or even cared about her at all.
-the writing : there is a problem with kuang writing that bothered me in TPW but I ignored it but I must say it here because it was a little bit dry and sometimes came off mechanical with a lot of telling and not showing and that made it hard for me to connect to certain events and not all
That is it honestly , even though I had problems with it , it stands as a 4.5 book for me ( I am still debating if I should put it at 4 stars ) edit : decided it was 4.4
The best shit : Robin characterization , his friendship with Ramy , Ramy , discussions about colonialism and linguistics, the original magic system .
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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?"--Amazon.com.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
Klassifikation der Library of Congress [LCC] (USA)
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