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The City of Words

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  185 ratings  ·  26 reviews
In the 2007 CBC Massey Lectures, Alberto Manguel leads us back into our literary tradition to find insight about one of the most contentious issues of our time: the rise of ethnic nationalism.
The end of ethnic nationalism -- building societies around sets of common values -- seems like a good idea. But something is going wrong. Manguel suggests we should look at what stor
ebook, 177 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Not Avail (first published October 1st 2007)
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Manguel has done it once again! With the publication of his 2007 Massey Lectures, he has treated readers to more of his thoughtful and well-crafted essays on the contribution of literature to our understanding of what it means to be human. I am amazed by his erudition, delighted by his exquisite prose style, and humbled by the depths of his understanding. In these lectures, he has given me new insights into my readings of Don Quixote and the Epic of Gilgamesh, but more importantly he has caused ...more
Alberto Manguel gave the contents of this book as a lecture series in 2007, ostensibly on the subject of multiculturalism. I can’t say that he focuses very hard on that topic, instead contemplating the importance of language and stories to human experience. Consequently, the book is a delightful confection of historical and literary anecdotage. I love Manguel’s writings and always learn interesting things from him. In this case, I enjoyed explanation of the context for Don Quixote and its links ...more
Bjorn Larsen
I don't actually have a lot to say about this text, though I did enjoy it. Alberto Manguel has serendipitously come into my life a few times over the years. I picked up an enchantingly strange book years ago at a Calgary Herald book sale: The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, a compendium of imaginative literature locations, pre-1980's that continues to be one of my favourite books around the house. On the spine? Alberto Manguel. Later I picked up up an anthology called "Black Water: The Book of F ...more
"Stories can offer consolation for suffering and words to name our experience. Stories can tell us who we are and what are these hourglasses through which we sift, and suggest ways of imagining a future that, without calling for comfortable happy ending, may offer us ways of remaining alive, together, on this much-abused earth." Alberto Manguel, "The City of Words", 146.

The end.
A nice reflection on how master literary pieces offer an alternative or reflect on the dichotomy of our human condition to search for company and unity while fighting for individuality and independence.
Jay Daze
If only because it got me to read Döblin's masterpiece Berlin Alexanderplatz, this book of lectures deserves five stars.
It’s become a cliché to call a book “thought-provoking” these days. Just about any non-fiction book gets the label. Yet I think there’s a big difference between a book that provokes thoughts of your own, and one that tells you what to think. I’m going to use the former definition, obviously, and so I can say without much reservation that The City of Words by Alberto Manguel is the most thought-provoking book I’ve read in a long while. Perhaps because Manguel raises plenty of questions, but provi ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Thanks to Ginnie Jones for mentioning this author. I am on my way to acquiring each of his titles.

I enjoyed this, perhaps not quite as much as some of the others, but it has made me think which is always a good thing.

I am reading this book for the second time: there was too much for me to consider and integrate on one reading. Alberto Manguel looks at the rise of violent intolerance in our societies. As part of this, he invites the reader to look at what is written (by visionaries, poets, noveli
Dans cette série de conférences prononcées en 2007 à Toronto dans le cadre des Massey Lectures, tribune annuellement offerte à des penseurs contemporains pour traiter des grandes questions de notre temps, Alberto Manguel, dressant de fascinants parallèles entre les réalités individuelles et politiques du monde actuel et celles que, de tout temps, ont pris en charge le mythe, la légende et le récit, propose de prêter attention, plutôt qu'au discours d'autorités prétendument " compétentes ", à ce ...more
Stephen Wong
Cassandra, Gilgamesh, Babel, Don Quixote, Hal 9000.

Alberto Manguel's Massey Lectures was an engaging read. I am not sure if even the preponderance of literary history in the re-reading for and by contemporary audiences suffices to frame and confront the complexity and cascade of the politics of exclusion. The inordinately "other" is rising not only out of geography but also time. I understand that societies and political philosophy have come to develop instauration myths that become almost ines
Shonna Froebel
This is the 2007 collection of CBC Massey Lectures, and I had listened to one of the lectures (the second one) on Ideas one evening and was interested to read the entire series.
Manguel brings life to famous literary works, both classic and modern, by showing how they relate to the current world and our issues. He shows the relationship between identity and the "other" as it relates to both the literature and our increasingly multicultural society. He discusses the difficulties: race riots, polit
Jolie découverte: La cité des mots d'Alberto Manguel (Actes Sud, 2009), série de conférences faites à Toronto dans le cadre des prestigieuses Massey Lectures. Un joli voyage dans le monde de la lecture et dans la bibliothèque d'Alberto Manguel - que j'adore. On revisite les grands mythes fondateurs de la littérature, comme Gilgamesh par exemple.

Il donne la parole aux écrivains, aux poètes, aux inventeurs de mots de tous horizons. Un bel hommage à la création littéraire… Je n'ai pas envie d'en di
Jan 03, 2008 Jacob rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: H.S. English teachers
See the publisher's blurb? "In these 2007 Massey Lectures, Alberto Manguel takes a fresh look at the problems that come with creating new societies. Race riots in France, political murder in The Netherlands, bombings in Britain... [etc.]" Manguel may have wanted to write that book, but there's nothing revelatory here, and what we actually have is not much more than a feel-good book about the pleasures of reading. For all that, it's not uninteresting -- I enjoyed Manguel's reading of Don Quixote ...more
Manguel discusses stories as a means through which we might better live with one another. His use of the double as a concept to exclude; but one with which we must make peace harkens to Davies's use of the devil in Fifth Business. His argument against consumerism in the writing process and the resulting dehumanization did seem like a familiar (read, old) argument. Nonetheless, definitely a recommended read for lovers of books-especially classics.
City of Words is an impassioned, erudite, and anecdotal defence of the community formed by narrative, beginning with Gilgamesh and continuing up to today. Manguel asks how language and story aid in perceiving others and thinking about ourselves, and arrives at the important task of justifying story as a radical, if unpredictable, method of constructing community through memory and understanding.
Jason Fritz
There are few writers who exude erudition as does Manguel; this series of lectures solidifies his stature as an equal of Borges. This work is a tour of language, stories, politics, and publishing. Beautifully prepared and delivered, this short book provides a few hours of pure intellectual engagement and enjoyment.
Mary Victoria
After discovering his work through the 'Dictionary of Imaginary Places', I'm quickly becoming a fan of Alberto Manguel's insightful take on the art of reading. In 'The City of Words', he leads us through a fantastic landscape of history, philosophy, literature - always stepping lightly. Highly recommended.
İnsanlık tarihi ile dilin tarihini, dilin kullanımını, hikaye anlatmayı, politik bir çerçevede ben- öteki ayrımını ulus devlet düzeyinde, milliyetçilik, özgürlük,cokkulturluluk gibi kavramları Babil, gilgamış, don kişot üzerinden anlatmış Manguel. E daha ne olsun.
chenghui liu
people all over the world need the peaceful and harmony society, although in people's heart it makes defferent, but if every body could be full of love with each other, it could make the better society
Oct 27, 2007 Liam rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has a love for literature and/or politics
I am still taking in what this book has done for me, however it is most certainly an intelligent and observant look at every societies abilities and inabilities to co-exist with one another.
This is a book I will have to come back to, read again, and think about a lot more. But I highly recommend it. Very thought provoking, interesting, and provides more fuel for the to be read list.
Interesting take on the history of literature, story-telling and how it shapes and informs our identities and our belief of who we are and ourselves.
Een mooie kijk op hoe mensen omgaan met woorden, zinnen en uiteraard verhalen!
An excellent view of multi-culturalism and nationalism.
very intellectual and also very interesting!
His essays are so refreshing....
Bethania marked it as to-read
Apr 17, 2015
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Alberto Manguel (born 1948 in Buenos Aires) is an Argentine-born writer, translator, and editor. He is the author of numerous non-fiction books such as The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (co-written with Gianni Guadalupi in 1980) and A History of Reading (1996) The Library at Night (2007) and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey: A Biography (2008), and novels such as News From a Foreign Country Came (1991). ...more
More about Alberto Manguel...
A History of Reading The Library at Night The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: The Newly Updated and Expanded Classic Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature A Reading Diary: A Passionate Reader's Reflections on a Year of Books

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“Geschichten sind unser Gedächtnis, Bibliotheken die Lagerstätten für dieses Gedächtnis und Lesen das Handwerk, mit dem wir dieses Gedächtnis neu erschaffen können, indem wir es rezitieren und glossieren, es wieder in unsere eigene Erfahrung rückübersetzen und so auf dem aufbauen, was frühere Generationen für bewahrenswert hielten.” 0 likes
“Lesen ist eine Erinnerungsarbeit, bei der wir durch Geschichten in den Genuss der vergangenen Erfahrungen anderer kommen, als wären es unsere eigenen.” 0 likes
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