After Babel

After Babel

Infobox Book
name = After Babel
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = First edition book cover
author = George Steiner
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series =
subject = Language, Translation
genre =
publisher = Oxford University Press
pub_date = January 1975
media_type = print (hardback)
pages = 520pp (first edition)
isbn = ISBN 0-192-12196-0

"After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation" is a 1975 linguistics book written by literary critic George Steiner. It was first published by Oxford University Press in the United Kingdom and deals with the "Babel problem" of multiple languages.cite web |url= |title=Powers of Literature - Lesson 1: Genesis |work=Englishare |accessdate=2008-04-15]

"After Babel" is a comprehensive study of the subject of language and translation. cite web |url= |title=George Steiner |work=Contemporary Writers in the UK |first=Daniel |last=Hahn |accessdate=2008-04-15 ] It is both a controversial and seminal workcite web |url= |title=Aspects of Language and Translation |work=Kwintessential: Cross Cultural Solutions |accessdate=2008-04-15] that covers a great deal of new ground and has remained the most thorough book on this topic since its publication. Director Peter Bush of the British Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia described the book as a "pioneering work which revealed all communication as a form of translation, and how central translation is to relations between cultures." [cite web |url=,4273,4153494,00.html |title=George and his dragons |work=The Guardian, March 17, 2001 |first=Maya |last=Jaggi |accessdate=2008-04-15] Daniel Hahn at wrote that "It is extraordinary in making a real contribution to translation studies, while remaining fairly self-contained and accessible to people who have never before given the matter a second thought."

In 1992 a second edition was published by Oxford University Press with major revisions by Steiner, including a new preface, and new and expanded notes and references. A third edition, with minor revisions by Steiner, was published by Oxford University Press in 1998.

"After Babel" was adapted for television in 1977 as "The Tongues of Men" and was the inspiration behind the creation in 1983 of the English avant-garde rock group News from Babel.

Table of contents

: "Acknowledgements": "Preface"
#"Understanding as Translation"
#"Language and Gnosis"
#"Word Against Object"
#"The Claims of Theory"
#"The Hermeneutic Motion"
#"Topologies of Culture": "Afterword": "Select Bibliography": "Index of Proper Names and Titles"


In "After Babel" Steiner states "To understand is to decipher. To hear significance is to translate." He challenges conventional theories of translation by maintaining that all human communication within and between languages is translation. He argues that deception was the reason for the development of different languages: it was humanity's deep desire for privacy and territory that saw the creation of thousands of languages, each designed to maintain secrecy and cultural isolation. Real translation between languages is impossible because the original meaning is always lost: the translated text is tainted by the translator's own cultural beliefs, knowledge and attitudes.cite web |url= |title=On the Subjectivity of the Translator | |first=Li |last=Youzi |accessdate=2008-04-15]

Steiner states that the reason for the lack of new developments in translation theory is that translation is a hermeneutical task, "not a science, but an exact art." He then presents a new translation model that combines philosophical hermeneutics with existing translation studies to form a "systematic hermeneutic translation theory". The new model comprises four "movements": trust, aggression, incorporation, and retribution. "Trust" and "retribution" honour the source text and its author’s intentions, while "aggression" and "incorporation" benefits the translator. [cite web |url= |title=After Babel, Aspects of Language and Translation Book Summary |work=Shvoong |first=Alexandre |last=Meirelles |accessdate=2008-04-15]


*cite book | last = Steiner | first = George | authorlink = George Steiner | title = After Babel | year = 1975 | publisher = Oxford University Press | location = Oxford, England | isbn = 0-192-12196-0
*cite news | first = D.S | last = Carne-Ross | title = Cracking the Code: Book review of "After Babel" by George Steiner | work = The New York Review of Books | location = New York City | date = 1975-10-30
*cite journal | last = Ullendorff | first = Edward | authorlink = Edward Ullendorff | title = George Steiner's "After Babel" | journal = Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies | volume = 39 | issue = 2 | pages = 403-420 | publisher = Cambridge University Press | year = 1976

External links

* [ "After Babel" editions] . "Fantastic Fiction".
* [ Beautiful Translations] . A symposium on translation held on 1 May 1995 in London - George Steiner was a keynote speaker and "After Babel" featured prominently at the conference.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • BABEL, ISAAC EMMANUILOVICH — (1894–1940), Russian writer. He was born in Odessa, then the center of Yiddish as well as Hebrew literature (both Mendele and Bialik lived there), of Jewish communal and political life (Odessa was, simultaneously, the center of Zionist and… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • BABEL, TOWER OF — BABEL, TOWER OF, the edifice whose building is portrayed in Genesis 11:1–9 as the direct cause of the diversity of languages in the world and the dispersion of mankind over all the earth. According to the preceding narrative, mankind after the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Babel (disambiguation) — Babel is the name used in the Hebrew Bible for the city of Babylon. The Babil Governorate in Iraq (named after Babylon) is sometimes transliterated as Babel .Babel may also refer to:In literature:* Babel (newspaper), an Iraqi newspaper * Babel… …   Wikipedia

  • Babel Fish (band) — Babel Fish are a Norwegian pop rock band from Oslo formed in the late 1980s. The band s members are Tarjei van Ravens (vocals, guitar), Halvor Holter (keyboards, vocals), Odd Jensen (drums), and Simon Malm (bass), the first three as co… …   Wikipedia

  • Babel — ( he. בָּבֶל; Bavel ) ( ar. بابل; Babel ) is the name used in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur an for the city of Babylon (Akkadian Babilu), notable in Genesis as the location of the Tower of Babel. In Gen. 11:9, the name of Babel is etymologized by… …   Wikipedia

  • Babel (Film, 2006) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Babel. Babel (film, 2006) Titre original Babel Réalisation Alejandro González Iñárritu Durée 143 minutes Sortie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Babel (film) — Babel (film, 2006) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Babel. Babel (film, 2006) Titre original Babel Réalisation Alejandro González Iñárritu Durée 143 minutes Sortie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Babel — • The word is derived from the Babylonian bab ilu, meaning gate of God Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Babel     Babel     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Babel (film) — Infobox Film name = Babel caption = Film poster director = Alejandro González Iñárritu producer = Steve Golin Jon Kilik writer = Guillermo Arriaga starring = Brad Pitt Cate Blanchett Gael García Bernal Kōji Yakusho Adriana Barraza Rinko Kikuchi… …   Wikipedia

  • Babel fish — The Babel fish is a fictional species in The Hitchhiker s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams.It is introduced in the first novel of the series as a species of fish that can instantly translate any language to any other language: The… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.