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The City of Words [Paperback]

Alberto Manguel

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Book Description

Sept. 3 2007 CBC Massey Lectures

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 stories have to teach us about society.

With wit and erudition, Manguel looks at what visionaries, poets, novelists, essayists, and filmmakers have to say about building societies. From Cassandra to Jack London, the Epic of Gilgamesh to the computer Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Don Quixote to Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, Manguel draws fascinating and revelatory parallels between the personal and political realities of our present-day world and those of myth, legend, and story.

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Product Description


Losing yourself in Alberto Manguel's mind... means being led expertly through a complex labyrinth of fact and exposition. (Globe and Mail 2007-10-01)

About the Author

Alberto Manguel is an anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist, and editor. His bestselling and award-winning books include A Dictionary of Imaginary Places and A History of Reading. He was born in Buenos Aires; in 1982 moved to Toronto, Canada, where he became a Canadian citizen; and now lives in France. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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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?' Aug. 8 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 Feb. 26 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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