Alberto Manguel has a beautiful library. His life has been dedicated to the art and collection of books. The Argentine-born writer was once a reader to Jorge Luis Borges, who, blind by this point, nurtured Manguel’s interest in literature.
In the time since, Manguel has become a world-renowned translator, editor, and writer in his own right, publishing several award-winning books of both fiction and nonfiction. The act of reading has heavily influenced his thinking through the years in its capacity to shape a separate way for humans to see the world around them, process and harness the raw power of imagination, and give eloquent perception to ideas that are otherwise inaccessible through daily means.
Two of Manguel’s most recent books, The Library at Night and A Reader on Reading, explore this relationship of the human psyche to the books it encounters and the spaces in which the experience of reading thrives. The cover of A Reader on Reading pays homage to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and each of the book’s essays is introduced with a quotation from Carroll’s writing, linking the experiences of reader and writer alike to the philosophical undertaking of reading. With The Library at Night, Manguel more fully explores the construct of the library and its role in human civilization from ancient times to the present, using fifteen distinct perspectives (e.g. “The Library as Mind;” “as Shape” “as Oblivion”) to illustrate the various roles that libraries play in the telling of our history. Of course, some of the libraries discussed are Manguel’s own, or drawn from his personal memory, so one never loses this highly-acclaimed author as both narrator and guide through the labyrinthine complexes of the mind.
What are you bibliophiles waiting for? Curl up and have at!