So, I found a lot of things about R. F. Kuang's BABEL problematic. In retrospect, I shd have kept the book's subtitle, THE NECESSITY OF VIOLENCE, front and center when reading the novel. But one thing I whole heartedly find myself in agreement with are the closing words in her introduction:
"Some may be puzzled by the precise placement of the
Royal Institute of Translation, also known as Babel.
This is because I've warped geography to make space
or it. Imagine a green between the Bodleian Libraries,
the Sheldonian, and the Radclilffe Camera. Now make
it much bigger, and put Babel right in the centre.
If you find any other inconsistencies, feel free to
remind yourself this is a work of fiction." (emphasis mine)
In short, she has followed Pullman's example of basing a story in Oxford but changing some things so that the Oxford described in her book does not correspond in every particular with its real-world counterpart: she alters things as needed for purposes of the story.
--Happy Thanksgiving, all