Ideas

Alberto Manguel's Curiosity

“Why”, “what” and “how” are perhaps the most basic questions of all. Big questions consume us as humans: Why is there evil? What does love mean? How might we get to the moon? Human curiosity has given us many gifts, but these gifts have come at a price. Alberto Manguel is a writer who prefers to be known as a reader. In his latest book, Curiosity, he explores his own curiosity about curiosity, in the company of Dante and other great writers.
Alberto Manguel (Melik Külecki)
Listen to the full episode53:58

"Why", "what" and "how" are perhaps the most basic questions of all. Big questions consume us as humans: Why is there evil? What does love mean? How might we get to the moon? Human curiosity has given us many gifts, but these gifts have come at a price. Alberto Manguel is a writer who prefers to be known as a reader. In his latest book, Curiosity, he explores his own curiosity about curiosity, in the company of Dante and other great writers.


Must Listen Moment: What would it be like to meet Dante?
Alberto Manguel is a writer who prefers to be known as a reader. In his latest book, Curiosity, he explores his own curiosity about curiosity, in the company of Dante and other great writers. 1:56

 

"When we are readers, we all have certain authors that are ours in a very private way. You find that the story of Little Red Riding Hood, or Oedipus, or Noddy, tells of something that is yours, and you wonder how the author knew about your secret desires and your secret fears, and has been able to put them into words."
-- Alberto Manguel​


Born in Argentina, the son of a diplomat, Alberto Manguel started out in the literary world as a reader- first, of course, for himself, like all of us, but most famously, as a reader for the blind Argentinian writer Jorge Luiz Borges. For four years in his teens, Alberto Manguel would read books to the great man.

Alberto Manguel's career as a writer, and his many books, all arguably revolve around the same theme -- what books, libraries and the act of reading signify. A History of Reading, A Visit to the Dream Bookseller, The Library at Night, Reading Pictures, and his CBC Massey Lectures The City of Words -- the titles alone of some of Alberto Manguel's books tell you a lot about his interests: books, and the magic between the covers.

Alberto Manguel is both a Canadian national and a citizen of the world, and his latest book, Curiosity, is, like so many before it -- a book about books he's been reading, most particularly, Dante's 14th century epic poem, The Divine Comedy.

Alberto's book is framed around seventeen chapters with big questions for a title: Who am I? What do We Want to Know? Where is our Place?

Curiosity is published by Yale University Press.

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