Undoing Babel

The Tower of Babel in Anglo-Saxon Literature

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Tristan Major
Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series
  • Toronto, ON: 
    University of Toronto Press
    , February
     312 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Christopher Dick forthcoming.


The Tower of Babel narrative is one of the most memorable accounts of the Bible, and its interpretative potential has produced a vast array of literary adaptations.

Undoing Babel is the first extensive examination of the development of the Babel narrative amongst Anglo-Saxon authors from late antiquity to the eleventh century. Tristan Major’s illuminating and original insight into Anglo-Latin and Old English works, including the writings of Aldhelm, Bede, Alcuin, Ælfric, and Wulfstan, reveals the cultural ideologies and anxieties that transformed the Babel narrative. In doing so, Major argues that these Babel narratives provide a basis for understanding the world’s ethnic and linguistic diversity as well as a theological stimulus to evangelize non-Christian and non-European people. Undoing Babel highlights the depth of literary innovation in this period and disproves any notion of a single Anglo-Saxon reception of biblical sources.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Tristan Major is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Literature and Linguistics at Qatar University.

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