After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation

George Steiner
When it first appeared in 1975, After Babel created a sensation, quickly establishing itself as both a controversial and seminal study of literary theory. Indeed, the reactions to the book now constitute a considerable secondary literature themselves. In the long-awaited second edition of this book, George Steiner offers a complete revision, an updated bibliography, and a new preface in which he places his groundbreaking work in the present context of poetics, hermeneutics, and translation studies. In the previous edition, Steiner provided readers with the first systematic investigation since the eighteenth century of the phenomenology and processes of translation both inside and between languages. Taking issue with the principal emphasis of modern linguistics, he finds the root of the "Babel problem" in our deep instinct for privacy and territory, noting that every people has in its language a unique body of shared secrecy. With this provocative thesis he analyzes every aspect of translation from fundamental conditions of interpretation to the most intricate of linguistic constructions. Like the towering figures of Derrida, Lacan, and Foucault, Steiner's work is central to current literary thought. After Babel is essential reading for anyone hoping to understand the debates raging in the academy today.

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