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3.72  ·  Rating details ·  369 ratings  ·  77 reviews
An eclectic history of human curiosity, a great feast of ideas, and a memoir of a reading life from an internationally celebrated reader and thinker

Curiosity has been seen through the ages as the impulse that drives our knowledge forward and the temptation that leads us toward dangerous and forbidden waters. The question “Why?” has appeared under a multiplicity of guises
Hardcover, 377 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by Yale University Press
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  369 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There is a sadness to reading ‘Curiosity’, as it is quite possibly Manguel’s final such book. He is my favourite author of books-about-books, as his writing is thoughtful, profound, humane, and informed by a lifetime of reading. Here, Manguel talks about suffering a stroke and his intuition that he will not live much longer, something he has made peace with. Nonetheless, this is not an inherently unhappy book. Rather, it is tribute to the curiosity of humanity about the world, each other, and ou ...more
Stephen Garner
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book was a gift and the title got me in. Some interesting historical information, but too much Dante and far, far too much religion for this atheist to bear. Couldn't finish it. ...more
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book greets the reader with the most challenging of questions revolving around the infamous 'who?' 'what?' & the 'whys' of life as a whole and our presence as actors within. I do confess it was exhausting to read as its perhaps for the more educated pallet, but still I was not insulted. If you've read any of his works previously it might be best if you keep that pattern and then after visit this one as it may get you familiarised with how he conducts the verbal exchange of thoughts and relat ...more
Edward Sullivan
Autobiographical, eclectic, erudite, and brilliant.
Sergey Grinev
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little bit boring
Elaine Aldred
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
In ‘Curiosity’ Alberto Manguel uses Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ as its backbone from which he meanders down branches of literary and anthropological exploration on the subject of curiosity.
Manguel has a unique method of presenting an autobiographical style of essay writing, which can at times seem to take on a life all of its own and appear to wander off the subject, ‘Curiosity’ is no exception. However, what a reader encounters during this book are many literary boxes of delights and curiosities (a
World Literature Today
"In the opening pages of this ambitious memoir—in which its author tracks the career of his own curiosity through a lifetime of dedicated reading within a capacious framework of the literary history of human inquisitiveness through the ages—he mentions that he was almost sixty when he first encountered Dante’s Commedia, the work of literature that did more than any other to guide him through the production of his unusually challenging task. Such a gargantuan project seeks proper scaffolding, and ...more
Flew Flewelling
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book should be titled, “Philosophy explained through Dante’s Comedia.” The title made me think it would be more of an explanation of what makes us curious, how we foster curiosity, and the results of curiosity in our lives. Instead it was “How Do We Reason?”, “What Are We Doing Here?”, and “What Is True?”

The book was historically fascinating, just not what I was expecting.

Make sure you read the Comedia before reading this.
Michael Rodriguez
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not a biography of the theory or science of curiosity, but rather a series of meditations on humanity's great existential questions set in the framework of Dante's Inferno and explored through classic literature and philosophy. A feast for any intellectually curious reader or lover of the classics. ...more
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Read this book!!! I realized a long time ago the reason I read is because of my curiosity. Manguel uses Dante's Divine Comedy as a touch stone for explorng the asking of questions. The book is dense and erudite. Again, read this book!! ...more
Jessica Schad Manuel
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Throughout the pages of Curiosity, Alberto Manguel practices the kind of associational thinking known as the philosophy of imagination, a kind of rhetorical approach that perpetuates ambiguity. Read my entire review here: ...more
Apr 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Curiosity, evidently, need only be explored through Dante.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Manguel explores philosophical questions from the starting place of Dante's Inferno. Didn't always work for me -- I felt he was trying too hard to make a connection. ...more
Ryan Vaughan
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not so much a book about curiosity as it is questions to be curious about. Manguel uses these questions as jumping off points to explore a number of topics. The width and breadth of his reading is on full display here with the author drawing from a formidable number of sources to craft something new.

Now in case this book is starting to sound like a random assortment of odds and ends there is a connective thread that runs through this book ,and that thread is Dante. Manguel returns again
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing. Manguel's books on reading and books are amazing, but this one turned out to be more of an academic analysis of the "Divina Commedia" sprinkled with random facts than an interesting journey across the meaning of curiosity. I don't think the frame he chose for his thoughts or the actual reasoning beyond the questions chosen for the chapters worked in this context.

And not only was this book something other than what I was looking for; it was also hard to read and boring more of
Ian Tymms
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A book to read slowly and in pieces. Really a series of essays on a common theme - curiosity - weaving through a reading of literary history and particularly through Dante's Commedia (The Divine Comedy). I haven't read Commedia and I take some comfort in Manguel's admission that he came to it late - in his 60s. I've added it to my "To Read" list.

I'll come back to this book again and again as I think about what it means to know and understand the world - to think deeply and meaningfully.
Ann Tonks
I confess that I don't have a degree in literature or philosophy and I've never read Dante's 'Commedia' and so by Chapter 3, I'd given up. I have neither the background to make sense of this piece of literary musing nor the time to educate myself to be able to read it. Give me the elegance and clarity of writers who who take us journeys through subjects important to humanity such as Alain de Botton and AC Grayling. ...more
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Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A thoughtful musing on curiosity, what, who and how through the journey of life supported with Dante's Divine Commedia. Reading Curiosity has inspired me to read the Commedias. It was a thought provoking read begging to be re-read for deeper understanding. ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book to return to again and again to lose oneself in Manguel's rich thinking and deep scholarship. ...more
Duygu Apanay
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It took me too long to read but worth it 😊
Aditya Tatu
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Could not complete it. It had to many references to books that I had not read. But it had several wonderful passages.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Alberto Manguel
I had some good moments with this book, and some rather dull ones. As always Alberto Manguel is a treasure trove of stories and of thoughts about language and the curious act of reading and writing that defines us as human beings. At times reading Curiosity feels like having a wonderful coffee house conversation with your most cultivated and literate friend. I love the chapter about Quipu, the Inca writing system and the prince of Sansevero, for example, or the thoughts about gree
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In my frequent variegated riffings - to which I am prone for a number of legitimate reasons, which I will abstain from specifying - I am wont to prize curiosity as a principal - a spiritual principal no less - of near unsurpassed precedence when it comes to engendering a life well lived. It is not below me to remonstrate the hordes of volk who medicate (with medication) doldrums, that bummed-out feeling, low-level baseline depression (not the clinical variety which makes the world a gray nothing ...more
Derrick Trimble
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Browsing the Waterstone's shelves for a book, Curiosity caught my attention. Everything about the book, from cover to concept, appeared to express the genre and style of reading that stimulates my mind. The experience didn't disappoint.

Commenting on this book by Alberto Manguel, evokes a sense of engaging in an intellectual battle with a superior mind. Like the Economist book jacket quote, I too would agree that reading Manguel is as 'taking a walk or an unhurried meal with an erudite cosmopoli
Forrest Link
Jun 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a difficult book, in part because it assumes so much of its readers. It asks that we accept Manguel's rather non-linear approach to examining deep philosophical questions through the lens of Dante and the various literary ripples around the Divine Comedy. The autobiographical bits are engaging, but Manguel's rambling style can be off-putting. ...more
Savannah Pine
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is one man's struggle with all the why questions humans face. He uses everything he has ever known to explore these questions.
Everyone needs something to remind them that they don't know everything. This book did that for me, thankfully.
Ruth Feathers
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I need to reread dante.
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Gave up on this one. The author's erudition is on display, but amid all the snippets of literature and philosophy I don't seem to be getting anywhere interesting. ...more
Jan 08, 2016 rated it liked it am glad to read a book like this, a book about thought. Kinda crazy.
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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

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