After Babel : Aspects of Language and Translation Paperback
'Translation has long needed a champion, and at last in George Steiner it has found a scholar who is a match for the task.' Sunday Times First published in 1975, After Babel constituted the first systematic investigation of the theory and processes of translation since the eighteenth century. In mapping out its own field, it quickly established itself as both controversial and seminal, and gave rise to a considerable, and still-growing, body of secondary literature.
Even today, with its status as a modern classic beyond question, many of the books insights remain provocative and challenging.
For the second edition of After Babel, George Steiner entirely revised the text, added new and expanded notes, provided a substantially updated bibliography (including much Russian and Eastern European material), and wrote a new preface setting the book in the present context of hermeneutics, poetics, and translation studies. 'Steiner's subject is extravagantly rich and he ponders it on the most generous scale...his language and his ideas display even-handedness, seriousness without heaviness, learning without pedantry, and sober charm.' New Yorker
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 560 pages, bibliography
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- Publication Date: 23/04/1998
- Category: Semantics
- ISBN: 9780192880932
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Review by NielsenGW
All speech is an act of translation. We need to transmit the ideas in our head to another person, and so must translate the thought into words. This act of translation forms the fundamental basis for how people interrelate. But what if the two people do not speak the same language? The translation has to be translated again in order to get the recipient to understand. It is these two translations that interest George Steiner in After Babel. This book is not for the timid. He looks at the history of translation, the fundamental basic of language, and how and why translations succeed or fail. He incorporates Chomskyan linguistics and an in-depth interpretation of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (that the structure of a language affects the way the language-speaker conceptualizes the world). Since he sees translation as inherently artistic, he does not spend a lot of time trying to break down its mechanics. The language in this book is a bit stilted, but Steiner gets his points across. If you’re not a student of linguistics, some of his assertions can be challenging (at least I thought it was). I wish I had more to say, but all in all, I thought he did an excellent job of encapsulating the field. A dense but informative book.