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Reversing Babel: Translation Among the English During an Age of Conquests, C. 800 to C. 1200 Hardcover – 21 Jul 2011


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In this thoughtful and thought-provoking work, Bruce R. O'Brien reviews evidence of translation practices in England, mainly involving English, Latin, and French, over four centuries, from the height of the first wave of Viking invasions to the aftermath of what he calls the Angevin Conquest of 1154. ... The real strength of this book, however, lies not in broad conclusions but in the many intelligent, astute, and original insights the author provides about the work of translating in medieval England. O'Brien clearly draws heavily on his own experience as an editor and translator of legal texts from the period, and it makes him a particularly skillful commentator on the subject. This will be a very important book for anyone interested in translation, languages, and cultural interaction in the medieval period. American Historical Review Reversing Babel is a helpful, even necessary, book and deserves a wide audience. The synthesis it presents is the product of an eye-watering quantity of reading across a mind-numbing number of disciplines. ... Reversing Babel is an admirable achievement, and deserves a large readership. English Historical Review

About the Author

Bruce O'Brien is professor of history at the University of Mary Washington, a visiting fellow at the Institute of Historical Research in London, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School. He is also chair of the literary board of the Early English Laws project.

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