Author(s): Alberto Manguel
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 and in vastly different contexts throughout the chapters of human history. Why does evil exist? What is beauty? How does language inform us? What defines our identity? What is our responsibility to the world? In Alberto Manguel's most personal book to date, the author tracks his own life of curiosity through the reading that has mapped his way. Manguel chooses as his guides a selection of writers who sparked his imagination. He dedicates each chapter to a single thinker, scientist, artist, or other figure who demonstrated in a fresh way how to ask "Why?" Leading us through a full gallery of inquisitives, among them Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Lewis Carroll, Rachel Carson, Socrates, and, most importantly, Dante, Manguel affirms how deeply connected our curiosity is to the readings that most astonish us, and how essential to the soaring of our own imaginations.
"How wonderfully appropriate that the endlessly inquisitive Alberto Manguel should consider the fascinating concept of curiosity. Fueled by a lifetime of reading, and with Dante as his guide, he embarks on an elegantly conceived excursion of the mind, driven by a single, timeless word-why?"-Nicholas A. Basbanes, author of On Paper and A Gentle Madness -- Nicholas A. Basbanes "Manguel vaults over the traditional fences of genre, literary history, and discipline with breathtaking virtuosity. He is the Montaigne de nos jours and, as regards this latest effort, if they put another rover on Mars they should call it 'Manguel.'"-John Sutherland, University College London -- John Sutherland "For Alberto Manguel reading is a pilgrimage, a secular-sacred encounter with mystery, and a way of reinvigorating the dead. Dante and Montaigne and Pinocchio's Collodi are his guides and his intimates in this passionate quest for knowledge, but it is the state of inquiry itself and even doubt that define for him the pleasures of curiosity. With his loving, keenly felt, highly enjoyable delving into writers and their writings, Manguel argues for literature's revelatory illusions, its epiphanies and its testimony."-Marina Warner, author of Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights -- Marina Warner "Alberto Manguel is a wanderer among books, immensely curious in such an intriguing way that he lets his readers easily discover the fruits of his curiosity."-Roberto Calasso -- Roberto Calasso "This is a dynamic, lively book that leads the reader to appreciate the pleasures and the power of curiosity. In writing its remarkable history Alberto Manguel sees it both as a primary passion and as a force behind all intellectual experiences. In a sort of encyclopedic narrative Manguel journeys over the most distant places-from Dante's Florence to Rome, Jerusalem, Athens, and Latin America, etc.-and he invites us to a grand tour of wonders and surprises."-Giuseppe Mazzotta, Yale University -- Giuseppe Mazzotta "Manguel travels through books in the same way he travels through various countries. He meets new friends and asks questions of them about himself, and about life. In a style which is all his own, he delights us with the unlimited bounds of human curiosity."-Lina Bolzoni, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa -- Lina Bolzoni "An erudite analysis and exploration of curiosity through the author's own works and those of countless others... Among the fictional or mythical characters that readers meet on this journey through the history of mankind are Eve, Pandora, Ulysses, and Ebenezer Scrooge, as well as a host of real scholars, religious figures, authors, poets, artists, philosophers and even economists. Human beings are, Manguel notes, self-conscious animals, capable of experiencing the world by asking questions and putting our curiosity into words, then turning those words into stories that lead to further questions."-Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews "The search for knowledge, and the discontents associated with that search, provide a loose pretext for this rambling literary meditation."-Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly
Alberto Manguel is a Canadian writer, translator, editor, and critic, but would rather define himself as a reader. Born in Buenos Aires, he has since resided in Israel, Argentina, Europe, the South Pacific, and Canada. Today he lives surrounded by more than 30,000 volumes.