Alberto Manguel

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crossroads:
history
genre(subgenre):
Written and spoken word (general)
region:
America, North, Europe, Western, America, South
country/territory:
Canada, France, Argentina
created on:
April 28, 2005
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since January 30, 2011. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Article

If, like Alberto Manguel, you worked in a bookshop while still at school then life’s great life passion seems predestined. The reading of books is one of the most important things to him: "For me it is the words on the page of a book, which give the world its cohesion." Born in 1948 in Buenos Aires, the son of an Argentinean diplomat, he spent his early childhood in Israel and grew up firstly English speaking, before learning Spanish. A cosmopolitan life in different countries and languages was with him from birth. He learnt to read already at the age of four and spent, as an asthmatic, weeks tied to his bed, a large part of his life only with books. Today he lives in Toronto, Paris and a small village in western France where his library, with over 50,000 volumes, stands.
In Buenos Aires, during his work in the bookshop, the 16-year-old got to know the blind poet Jorge Luis Borges and became his reader. Manguel completed studies in comparative literature before he made reading and writing in the most different forms to his profession. Manguel worked as editor, wrote critiques, theatre plays, film scripts, compiled different anthologies and translated, amongst others, Marguerite Yourcenar into English.

In 1991 he published his first novel, ´News from a Foreign Country Came´ which is told in episodes and from different perspectives and is set in Canada and Algeria. The story of an assassination on a former policeman is reconstructed in the period before and after the attack and becomes a critical portrait of society.

With his book, ´A History of Reading´ (1996), Manguel became famous overnight throughout the world. The prize awarded essay, which was awarded the Prix Medicis amongst others, tells his own personal biography as reader. Starting from his childhood readings which included works by Lewis Carroll, Robert Stevenson and Enid Blyton, he depicts in an exciting way how written communication came about and its development from the ancient world to the present day. He doesn’t do so chronologically but more intuitively, as reading for him is always linked to chance. A year later the essay volume ´Into the Looking Glass Wood´ came out in which he deals with the theme of reading as "what remains unchanged is my desire to read, to hold the book in my hand and suddenly feel this unique feeling of amazement, of recognition, the shudder or the warmth which a certain sequence of words, sometimes without any visible reason, can create in us."

Recently, Manguel has dedicated himself more strongly to the fine arts. In his book, ´Reading Pictures´ (2001), he emphasizes the analogies of readings of words and pictures – both awaken the imagination and are a never-ending process.
Author: International Festival of Literature Berlin (ilb)

Works

All Men Are Liars

Published Written,
2010
Alma Books Ltd (Spanish ed. 2008)

Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey

Published Written,
2007
Douglas & McIntyre: Vancouver

The City of Words

Published Written,
2007
House of Anansi Press: Toronto

Nuevo elogio de la locura

Published Written,
2006
(At the Mad Hatter’s Table). n.s., Argentina

A Room Full of Toys

Published Written,
2006
Thames & Hudson: London

The Library at Night

Published Written,
2006
Alfred A. Knopf: Toronto (2nd revised ed. Yale University Press 2008)

Pinocchio & Robinson

Published Written,
2005
n.s., Toronto

Stevenson under the Palm Trees

Published Written,
2005
Canongate Books

A Reading Diary

Published Written,
2004
Alfred A. Knopf: Toronto

Solitary Vices

Published Written,
2004
n.s.,Spain

With Borges

Published Written,
2004
Thomas Allen Publishers: Toronto

Kipling

Published Written,
2001
Bayeux Arts Inc.: Calgary

How Pinocchio Learned to Read

Published Written,
2000
n.s., Switzerland

A Visit to the Dream Bookseller/Ein Besuch beim Traumbuchhändler

Published Written,
1998
Text in English and German. Quod Libet: Hamburg

Into the Looking-Glass Wood

Published Written,
1998
Alfred A. Knopf: Toronto

Bride of Frankenstein

Published Written,
1997
British Film Institute: London

A History of Reading

Published Written,
1997
Penguin: New York; Flamingo: London

A History of Reading

Published Written,
1996
Alfred A. Knopf: Toronto

News From a Foreign Country Came

Published Written,
1991
Potter: New York

L´ordinateur de Saint Augustin

Published Written,
1987
(Saint Augustine’s Computer). n.s., France

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places

Published Written,
1980
Lester & Orpen Dennys: Toronto

Merits

2010
Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (England)
Doctor Honoris Causa, Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge, UK)

2008
Milovan Vidacovic Literary Award (Serbia)

2007
Doctor Honoris Causa, Université de Liège (Belgium)
Premio Grinzane Cavour, (Essay) (Italy)

2004-2005
Fellow of the S. Fischer Stiftung (Germany)

2004
Prix Roger Caillois (France)
Fellow of the Simon Guggenheim Foundation (USA)
Officier de l´Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France)
Prix Poitou-Charentes for Chez Borges (France)

2002
Premio Germán Sánchez Ruipérez for best literary criticism (Spain)

2000
Prix France Culture for Dans la forêt du miroir (France)

1998
Prix Médicis Essai for Une histoire de la lecture (France)
Logos Prize. Special Mention for Une Histoire de la lecture (Paris)

1996
Chevalier de l´Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France)
1992 Award for Contribution to the Arts Harbourfront (Canada)

1992
Canadian Writers´ Association Award (Fiction) (Canada)
McKitterick First Novel Award (UK)

1986
Lewis Gallantière Translation Prize (honourable mention) for
Nouvelles orientales by Marguerite Yourcenar (USA)

1981
German Critics Award for Von Atlantis bis Utopia, German translation of
The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (Germany)

1971
Literary Award "La Nación" for short stories (Buenos Aires)



Www

International Festival of Literature Berlin

Official website