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Babel or The necessity of violence

Rebecca F. Kuang
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Rebecca F. Kuang

Babel or The necessity of violence

Rebecca F. Kuang has taken social networks by storm with her fiction. The book was named Best Fantasy Novel of 2022 and Blackwell Book of the Year. In it the author intertwines fiction with industrialization and colonialism of the 19th century. A young Chinese man becomes an orphan after a cholera outbreak. He is taken under the wing of professor Lovell who takes him to Oxford to study. The boy gets a new life and a new name: Robin Swift. Together with three other clasmates he begins his studies in languages and etymology at the prestigious Babel Institute in Oxford. Throughout their studies they learn about the magical power of words which the researchers there use to breathe special powers into silver. Despite the initial enthusiasm, Robin begins to doubt. He meets a representative of the secret resistance movement Hermes. Corruption, greed and exploitation by the richest country of the world become more and more evident. A dispute with China leads the London authorities to turn against Robin’s homeland. Robin must choose between justice and the exciting life of a respected member of an elite institution. Babel builds the colourful plot on solid philosophical foundations that have been engaging humanity for many years. Is there a primordial, common language, shared by all the people of the world? What is the meaning of the gaps that arise in translation? And words have become weapons. (EZ)

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