George Steiner's After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation PDF

By George Steiner

In his vintage paintings, literary critic and student George Steiner tackles what he considers the Babel “problem”: Why, over the process heritage, have people constructed hundreds of thousands of alternative languages while the social, fabric, and financial benefits of a unmarried tongue are visible? Steiner argues that various cultures’ wishes for privateness and exclusivity resulted in every one constructing its personal language. Translation, he believes, is on the very middle of human verbal exchange, and hence on the middle of human nature. From our daily belief of the realm round us, to creativity and the uninhibited mind's eye, to the customarily inexplicable poignancy of poetry, we're continuously translating—even from our local language.

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Extra info for After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation

Sample text

It is this latter procedure, at once a process of rapid perception and free association, that I refer to as phantasmagoria. URBAN POETICS 31 ) One must of course concede that disjunction and disorientation do not in themselves offer a comprehensive description of modern urban experience. The nineteenth-century city could not have been solely a chaos of phantasmagoric fragments. There is in fact an important countervailing direction in the ambitious urban planning of the era, of which Haussman’s sweeping and ruthless Parisian renewal project is an exemplary instance.

Black with wet, and altered to the eye by white patches of hail and sleet, the huddled buildings looked lower than usual, as if they were cowering, and had shrunk from the cold. ” As they glided slowly on, keeping under the shore, and sneaking in and out among the shipping, by back-alleys of water, in a pilfering way that seemed to be their boatman’s normal manner of progression, all the objects among which they crept were so huge in contrast to their wretched boat as to threaten to crush it. Not a ship’s hull, with its rusty iron links of cable run out of hawse-holes long discoloured with the iron’s rusty tears, but seemed to be there with a fell intention.

Flaubert’s great phantasmagoric scene, which, as I have noted, would be picked up by later novelists, is the masked ball. He obviously thought it had considerable importance in the design of his novel because he lavished such attention on its details, devoting some fifteen pages to the scene. The masked ball clearly is meant to be the gateway for Fre´de´ric’s entrance into the erotic demimonde of Paris, tapping into the associations of the masquerade or carnival experience with sexual adventure, with the escape from conventionally assigned identities, and ( 32 Flaubert with the casting aside of moral and social restraints.

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