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The City of Words [Paperback]

Alberto Manguel

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Book Description

10 Dec 2009
What is the role of the storyteller in 21st Century society? Do stories possess the power to change the world we live in? In this most original and stimulating study Alberto Manguel, award winning author of "A History of Reading", sets out to investigate the ways in which stories can lend an identity to a whole society. From "Gilgamesh" to the Bible, from "Don Quixote" to "The Fast Runner", Manguel explores how books can hold the secret to what binds us together. His thesis is argued here in an engrossing and highly personal book that encompasses narratives of autobiography, mythology, history and theology. He also raises concerns that technological developments - the internet, for one - may well fatally undermine the publishing industry and threaten the survival of the individual around whom the entire literary industry was originally constructed: the beleaguered author. This book is also about the art of reading, at a time when Manguel argues that it is still possible for stories to change us and the world we live in.

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'It is a work of staggering scope and erudition, packed with interesting information and arguments, and often beautifully written' --William Skidelsky, The Spectator

'[Manguel's] style is one of great warmth and allusiveness, ranging with ease across epochs and continents of literature' --Steven Poole, The Guardian

About the Author

Alberto Manguel was born in Buenos Aires but moved to Toronto early on in his life. He now lives in France. He is the author of some hugely successful books including A Dictionary of Imaginary Places and A History of Reading. He is a Guggenheim Fellow.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `.. is it possible for stories to change us and the world we live in?' 9 Aug 2008
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Published on Amazon.com
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, novelists and essayists) and presented visually (by filmmakers) about the building of societies.

Under the following chapter headings, we are invited to think about the future by drawing on the past to interpret the present:
`The Voice of Cassandra'
`The Tablets of Gilgamesh'
`The Bricks of Babel'
`The Books of Don Quixote'
`The Screen of Hal'
Alberto Manguel invites the reader to consider a number of different and important questions:
How does language itself determine, limit and enlarge our imagination of the world?
How do the stories we tell help us perceive ourselves and others?
Can such stories lend a whole society an identity, whether true or false?
Is it possible for stories to change us and the world we live in?

This is a book to keep and to refer back to. The prose is a joy to read for its own sake, the underlying messages are enduring and the questions are timeless.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful 26 Feb 2013
By doced - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thus far, every effort by Mr. Manguel I've read has proven interesting, well-written, provocative, insightful, and well worth the investment of time to do so. I highly recommend Mr. Manguel's work and encourage those who're curious about it, to delve and discover.
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