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Reading Pictures : What We Think About When We Look at Art Paperback – 15 Oct 2002

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (15 Oct. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067697435X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676974355
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,361,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"Alberto Manguel is an expert explorer of what the French call the imaginaire -- a word that combines imagination, imagery and the formation of images in the mind. He is the author of a very practical Dictionary of Imaginary Places. His History of Reading is a brilliant account of the ways in which reader and writer meet and change each other. He understands the logic of Lewis Carroll's world of wonderland and mirrors better than almost anyone else. His own imagination is supple and generous, and his work is full of surprises.... he is in fact someone who works accurately and idiosyncratically in ordinary language, to our delight.... Each chapter ranges widely and sure-footedly around its chosen subject, using Manguel's wide learning to make new connections....It is the scrupulous, high-powered conversation of a learned man, rather than professional "criticism," and the better for it....his own reflections, so unconstricted, so clear, so strange, are so very satisfying to his readers." -- A.S. Byatt, "Washington Post," Sunday, October 28, 2001"
"All of it is fascinating." -- "Calgary Herald
"A fascinating treat." -- "Today"
"Invaluable.... Marvellously informed.... Alberto Manguel is an entertaining guide to the world of art [who] offers remarkable insights." -- "The Gazette" (Montreal)
"Insightful and entertaining." -- "The Toronto Star"
"For an absolutely gorgeous gift this December...Manguel's latest work is the answer.... A beautifully crafted achievement, filled with hundreds of works of art." -- "FFWD" (Calgary)
"A worthy companion to his bestselling book, A History of Reading. Reading Pictures succeeds admirably [as] a guide for us to follow as we learn to look at, think about, and appreciate art again." -- "The Edmonton Journal
"Magnificent.... If you care about art, let the one book you give (or receive) this Christmas be Reading Pictures." -- "The New Brunswick Reader
"Eclectic and intriguing." -- "Ottawa Citizen
"A readable romp through a visual landscape." -- "Maclean's"
"Fascinating.... Alberto Manguel looks at art and finds stories and parallels that might give us a whole new perspective...this may be the ultimate visual self-help book...With many stunning images from our pre-computer-enhanced past, it manages to coax us into looking at them in ways we may have forgotten....Each of the book's 12 chapters could stand alone as an essay.... Be changed and enriched." -- "The Vancouver Sun
"This is a book that demands all our attention, and, for all its richness, deserves to get it." -- "The Times-Colonist"(Victoria)
""Manguel knows the value of books, and the art of reading them.... The result is delightful." -- "The Times" U.K.
"Alberto Manguel (is) a keeper of the word and a guardian of the book." -- "The Globe and Mail"(Dec. 5/98)"
"Alberto Manguel is a tireless champion of the written word. He cares about books...with a deep, unswerving passion because he believes they are -- still, despite our electronic progress -- essential links between the individual and the world." -- "The Vancouver Sun"
"Like Pablo Neruda wrote regarding the Argentinian Julio Cortazar, one could say that not to read Alberto Manguel is an invisible and serious illness that, in time, might have terrible consequences.... Not to accompany Manguel on a jubilatory and salutary stroll through the world of words, museums and books, would be nothing short of madness." -- "Sud-Ouest Dimanche"
"As a teacher, [Manguel] is profound and unpredictable, world-wise and erudite.... The artists Manguel chooses are surprising and fresh, and his sidetracks occasionally ignore standard biography. But the book provides plenty of appropriate visual images -- only some of them familiar -- alongside lovely, compassionate sentences." -- "Quill & Quire, "starred review, December 2000"
"A book for readers who enjoy virtuoso performances.... Manguel leads the reader on a merry chase through the worlds of art history, literature...and philosophy....[A] splendid meander through his fascinating mind." -- "Smithsonian"
"There is so much in this book to admire, the sheer sweep and soar of ideas is invigorating. The writing, for all Manguel's erudition, is quick and clear, stimulating in the extreme....This may be one of the best books you will read this year." --"The Independent"
"Quite the most entrancing aspect of this rich, venturesome book is its authors humility in the face of all he knows and his generosity in sharing it with us." --"The Spectator
"This delightful book will fascinate anyone who enjoys looking at pictures....In his charmingly calm, unruffled way, Manguel forces you to reexamine your own assumptions and convictions about art. This is a book to cherish." --"The Sunday Telegraph"

"From the Hardcover edition." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

This profoundly illuminating, entertaining book could well change the way we "read" the visual world around us, and certainly help open our eyes and minds to its astonishing riches. The language in which we speak about art has become steadily more abstruse, a jargon that only art critics and con-artists can understand, though for thousands of years this was not the case. Today, we live in a kaleidoscopic new world of images: Is there a vocabulary we can learn in order to read these images? Is there something we can do so as not to remain passive when we flip through an illustrated book, or download images on a screen? Are there ways in which we can "read" the stories within paintings, monuments, buildings and sculptures? We say "every picture tells a story" - but does it?
Taking a handful of extraordinary images - photographed, painted, built, sculpted - Alberto Manguel explores how each one attempts to tell a story that we, the viewer, must decipher or invent. "A History of Love and Hate is not about art history or theory - it is about the astonishing pleasures and surprises of stories.

"From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book. Not exactly art-history. Manguel focuses on individual works by well-known or less well-known artists in an original way, exploring the surrounding culture and context around the works as well as looking at them carefully.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, but not without merit 16 April 2011
By Caleb Hanson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book wasn't exactly what I expected when I bought it--Amazon recommended it based on my previous purchases, and it looked interesting so I went for it. I had hoped it would be about how *I* could get more out of looking at art, but really it's about what Manguel thinks about when *he* looks at a dozen particular pieces--paintings mostly, but also photographs, sculpture, monuments, etc.

My mis-expectations aside, he does know stuff and he writes it well. Each chapter is an essay about one piece; some talk about the composition of the piece, others more about the artist's career as a whole, others about other things that the piece reminds Manguel of. I was a bit disappointed that the rather interesting picture on the cover is never even mentioned, neither the photo nor the painting within it.

Not easy to rate: not what I was looking for, but interesting enough I finished reading it, but then again I don't know the field so I can't really tell if he's full of it or not. Hence the indecisive three stars. (Takeaway lesson: Picasso was an incredible dick.)
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 10 Jun. 2015
By Linn - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another wonderful book by Manguel.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another good read by Alberto Manguel 5 Jun. 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Manguel continues to discover new ways to look at how we process what we read and see. I highly recommend this book or anything by Alberto Manguel.
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