After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation by George Steiner

By George Steiner

In his vintage paintings, literary critic and pupil George Steiner tackles what he considers the Babel “problem”: Why, over the process historical past, have people constructed millions of alternative languages whilst the social, fabric, and financial benefits of a unmarried tongue are noticeable? Steiner argues that varied cultures’ wants for privateness and exclusivity ended in every one constructing its personal language. Translation, he believes, is on the very middle of human conversation, and hence on the middle of human nature. From our daily notion of the realm round us, to creativity and the uninhibited mind's eye, to the usually inexplicable poignancy of poetry, we're continuously translating—even from our local language.

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Extra resources for After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation

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Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. 4 The relationship between sound and sense interests narrator humbert humbert, and the obtrusive presence of his own tongue on the page prompts uncomfortable mimicry in the reader’s mouth. It is not only elaborate or fancy sentences that call for this sort of reading through the mouth.

Well, she herself wouldn’t manage more than a bite. (She’d not been able to eat a thing since that last spoonful of green-tea ice cream. Though there had been another cognac around noon . ) The slice she cut for herself was so slight that it fell over. For Lawrence, she hacked off a far larger piece—Lawrence was always watching his weight—than she knew he wanted. The wedge sat fat and stupid on the plate; the filling drooled. 7 And here’s the post-birthday world in which Irina has virtuously suppressed her sexual attraction to ramsey (Lawrence has just criticized her for having had a drink before he got home): Scrutinized for signs of inebriation and disgusted with herself for having overimbibed the night before, in the kitchen Irina poured herself an abstemious half-glass of white wine.

Elton or harriet Smith may come through very strongly and revealingly at individual moments, almost as though the narrative voice is a radio tuned briefly to the channel of one character’s thoughts and then to another’s. We also see the use of a lightly ironized diction that is not clearly directed toward a specific target. “Not unfrequently, through Emma’s persuasion, [mr. 17): the double negative of “Not unfrequently” and that phrase “the chosen and the best” both sound lurkingly satirical, but whose judgment is it?

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