Manguel, Alberto 1948–
Manguel, Alberto 1948–
(Alberto Adrian Manguel)
Born March 13, 1948, in Buenos Aires, Argentina; immigrated to Canada, 1982, naturalized citizen, 1988; son of Pablo and Rosalia Manguel; married Pauline Ann Brewer (a teacher), 1975 (divorced, 1986); children: Alice Emily, Rachel Claire, Rupert Tobias. Education: Attended Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1967-68, and London University, 1976.
Home and office—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Agent—The Lucinda Vardey Agency, 297 Seaton St., Toronto, Ontario M5A 2T6, Canada.
Writer, editor, and translator. Worked as a member of editorial staffs of various publishing houses and periodicals; worked as a book and theater critic in the broadcast media.
International PEN, Writer's Union of Canada, Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists, Literary Translators Association.
Premio Literario, La Nacion (newspaper), 1971, for short story; (with Gianni Guadalupi) German critics prize, 1981, for Von Atlantis bis Utopia (translation of The Dictionary of Imaginary Places); McKitterick First Novel Award, British Society of Authors, 1992; Harbourfront Literary Award, 1992, for contribution to the arts; Canadian Authors' Association Award for Fiction, 1992; named officer, Order of Arts and Letters.
The Kipling Play (play), produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1983, excerpts published in Descant, fall, 1987.
News from a Foreign Country Came (novel), C.N. Potter (New York, NY), 1991.
A History of Reading (nonfiction), Viking (New York, NY), 1996.
Into the Looking-Glass Wood: Essays on Books, Reading, and the World, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2000.
Reading Pictures: A History of Love and Hate (nonfiction), Random House (New York, NY), 2000.
Kipling: A Brief Biography for Young Adults, Bayeux Arts (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2001.
Stevenson under the Palm Trees (mystery), Thomas Allen Publishers (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
A Reading Diary (nonfiction), Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2004.
With Borges (nonfiction), Thomas Allen Publishers (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.
El regreso, Emece (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 2005.
Pinocchio & Robinson: pour une ethique de la lecture, translated from the English by Christine Le Buf and Charlotte Melancon, Escampette (Bordeaux, France), 2005.
The Library at Night, A.A. Knopf Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.
Magic Land of Toys, photography by Michel Pintado, Vendome Press (New York, NY), 2006.
(And author of introduction) Variaciones sobre un tema de durero, Galerna (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1968.
(And author of introduction) Variaciones sobre un tema policial: Cuentos, Galerna (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1968.
(And author of introduction) Antologia de la literatura fantastica argentina, Kapelusz (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1973.
(And author of introduction) Black Water: The Anthology of Fantastic Literature, Lester & Orpen Dennys (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983, published as Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature, C.N. Potter (New York, NY), 1983.
(And author of introduction) Dark Arrows: Chronicles of Revenge, Penguin Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1985, published as Dark Arrows: Great Stories of Revenge, C.N. Potter (New York, NY), 1987.
(And author of introduction) Other Fires: Short Fiction by Latin-American Women, C.N. Potter (New York, NY), 1986.
(And author of introduction) Evening Games: Chronicles of Parents and Children, C.N. Potter (New York, NY), 1986.
(And author of introduction) The Oxford Book of Canadian Ghost Stories, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990.
(And author of introduction) Black Water II: More Fantastic Literature, Lester & Orpen Dennys (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990, published as Black Water II: More Tales of the Fantastic, C.N. Potter, 1990, published as White Fire: Further Fantastic Literature, Picador (London, England), 1991.
Seasons (anthology of children's poetry), paintings by Warabe Aska, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.
(And author of introduction) Soho Square III (anthology), Bloomsbury (London, England), 1990.
(And author of introduction) Canadian Mystery Stories, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1991.
(And author of introduction) The Gates of Paradise: The Anthology of Erotic Short Fiction, C.N. Potter (New York, NY), 1993.
(With Craig Stephenson; and author of introduction) In Another Part of the Forest: An Anthology of Gay Short Fiction, Crown Trade Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1994.
The Second Gates of Paradise: The Anthology of Erotic Short Fiction, Macfarlane Walter & Ross (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994.
Fathers and Sons: An Anthology, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
Mothers and Daughters: An Anthology, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
By the Light of the Glow-Worm Lamp, Plenum (New York, NY), 1999.
God's Spies: Stories in Defiance of Oppression, Macfarlane Walter & Ross (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.
The Ecco Book of Christmas Stories, Ecco (New York, NY), 2006.
Faire un voyage, France Culture Radio (Paris, France), 1972.
"Death and the Compass" (adapted from the story of the same title by Jorge Luis Borges), Vanishing Point, Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) Radio, 1984.
"Secret Ceremony" (adapted from the story of the same title by Marco Denevi), Vanishing Point, CBC Radio, 1984.
"The Man Who Liked Dickens" (adapted from the story of the same title by Evelyn Waugh), Vanishing Point, CBC Radio, 1986.
"The Word for World Is Forest" (adapted from the novel of the same title by Ursula K. Le Guin), Vanishing Point, CBC Radio, 1988.
"The Alley Cat" (adapted from the novel of the same title by Yves Beauchemin), Morningside Drama, CBC Radio, 1989.
"Five Stories by Bonnie Burnard" (adaptation), Morningside Drama, CBC Radio, 1989.
"The South" (adapted from the story of the same title by Jorge Luis Borges), Vanishing Point, CBC Radio, 1989.
"Five Stories by Julio Cortazar" (adaptation), Vanishing Point, CBC Radio, 1990.
"Five Canadian Ghost Stories" (adapted from works by Antonine Maillet, Rohinton Mistry, Virgil Burnett, Ethel Wilson, and A.M. Klein), Vanishing Point, CBC Radio, 1990.
"Reunion," Inside Stories, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1989.
(With Dany Laferriere) "Voodoo Taxi," Inside Stories, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1991.
Marguerite Duras, Two by Duras, Coach House Press (Toronto Ontario Canada), 1993
Marco Denev, The Redemption of the Cannibal Woman; and Other Stories, Coach House Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993.
Philippe Sollers, Watteau in Venice, Scribner (New York, NY), 1994.
Federico Andahazi, The Anatomist, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1998.
Amin Maalouf, Ports of Call, Harvill Press (London, England), 1999.
Javier Sierra, The Secret Supper, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Also author of short stories. Adapter of plays, both original and covers, for CBC Radio and CBC-TV. Translator of numerous books from Spanish, German, French, and Italian into English, and from English and French into Spanish. Contributor to periodicals, including Commonweal, New York Times, Saturday Night, Washington Post, and Village Voice.
Alberto Manguel is considered an astute and original editor of anthologies. While reviewers have applauded his numerous works for their scholarship, they also cite Manguel's wide-ranging knowledge of the various genres in which he works. He has published and discussed fine examples of Latin-American ghost stories, European classic tales, and American science fiction in such works as The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature, and Other Fires: Short Fiction by Latin-American Women. He has exhibited an even greater range of expertise and an extraordinary passion for all things related to reading in A History of Reading.
The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, which Manguel wrote with Gianni Guadalupi, is a guidebook to more than twelve hundred fictionaly villages, kingdoms, continents, and countries devised by authors from classical Greece to the present day. Illustrated with maps and drawings, entries on such places as Camelot, Oz, Jonathan Swift's Brobdingnag, and Franz Kafka's Penal Colony provide a brief history of each region, a description of its inhabitants and topography, and a reading list, in travel-guide form. When visiting Dracula's Castle, for example, Manguel and Guadalupi advise bringing silver crosses and wooden stakes. "Presented with mock solemnity and written with grace and wit," as Peter S. Prescott wrote in Newsweek, The Dictionary of Imaginary Places "is a work of genuine scholarship that is also a pleasure to read."
Manguel collects seventy-two tales of horror from several centuries and five continents in Black Water. Writers such as Vladimir Nabokov, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Hesse, Julio Cortazar, Max Beerbohm, Jorge Luis Borges, and H.G. Wells are represented in what New York Times Book Review contributor Jack Sullivan called "an uncommonly satisfying collection." Two years later Manguel edited Dark Arrows: Chronicles of Revenge (published in the United States as Dark Arrows: Great Stories of Revenge), a volume featuring tales of vengeance from writers as diverse as William Faulkner and Bram Stoker. This anthology also earned Manguel high praise. A Washington Post Book World contributor called him "an editor of real imagination," with an "expertise at discovering the unexpected."
In 1986 Manguel compiled Other Fires, possibly the first anthology dedicated to Latina writers. Comprised of stories from such prominent Hispanics as Liliana Heker, Elena Poniatowska, and Rosario Castellanos, the collection exhibits a wide range of artistic styles—from fables to science fiction to magic realism—and subject matter, including depictions of betrayal and murder, loneliness and suicide, and male-female relationships in a society where women are subjugated by men. Commenting on the lack of anthologies devoted to Latin-American women writers, New York Times Book Review contributor Mary Morris noted that with the publication of Other Fires, "at last we can hear the voice that has been missing."
News from a Foreign Country Came, Manguel's first novel, recounts the story of an officer in the French army whose past comes back to haunt him and his family. As Washington Post Book World reviewer Richard Ryan stated: "It is clear that Manguel wanted to write a book about two of the most primitive aspects of human nature: violence and the family." Writing for the Spectator, Celestria Noel observed that in the novel "brutality is not the exclusive property of regimes and torture has its roots in family life." While in the Los Angeles Times Book Review Richard Eder suggested that "any number of scenes are far-fetched and awkwardly handled," Ryan called News from a Foreign Country Came "a grim parable of considerable power," and noted that "This impressive first novel suggests that Manguel has both the intellect and the voice to speak to his readers on the highest levels of fiction."
Manguel once told CA: "I started compiling anthologies out of an urge to get my friends to read the stories I was crazy about, sometimes stories in other languages (which I had to translate), sometimes stories hidden in obscure collections. I see my anthologizing as a function of my reading—every reader is, in some measure, an anthologist, a collector of what he or she likes best.
"As a translator, I wish I had an extra life to devote to translating: there are so many authors I wish I had time to translate into English. Hector Bianciotti, Rodolfo Walsh, Liliana Heker, Juan Jose Hernandez, Salvador Garmedia, Amparo Davila … the list is endless.
"For the longest time, after having written a few forgotten short stories in Spanish, I decided I would not turn my hand to writing fiction because (using the oldest excuse in the book) I felt I would never be able to write as well as my favorite authors. But a story came to me, as these things will. I felt obliged to write it down in order to understand it. The result was News from a Foreign Country Came."
Manguel's editorial work during the 1990s included the companion volumes Fathers and Sons: An Anthology and Mothers and Daughters: An Anthology. Like his earlier collections, these books have great depth. They include familiar and unfamiliar writers, stories representing many different cultures, and a time frame that begins with works by Edith Wharton and Steven Crane. The collections' women writers include Daphne Du Maurier, Sara Jeannette Duncan, Louise Erdrich, Frances Newman, Katherine Mansfield, and Anna Maria Ortese. Among the men are William Faulkner, Steven Crane, Richard Ford, Franz Kafka, Bruno Schultz, Kenzaburo Oe, Ben Okri, and John Edgar Wideman. Both books were reviewed in Library Journal by Nancy R. Ives, who valued them "for the insight they bring to the parent/child relationship and for the broad representation of writers included." Writing for Booklist, Mary Ellen Quinn noted the appeal of such a great range of writing styles and remarked: "There are many pleasures to be derived from reading these books."
In By the Light of the Glow-Worm Lamp, Manguel expresses his concerns about the environmental damage being done by logging, mining, and other kinds of multinational operations by offering readers a collection of stories that touch upon the subject of the environment in direct and indirect ways. With extracts by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Dickens, Vladimir Nabokov, Rachel Carson, and Daniel Defoe, editor Manguel includes some writers who are unexpected in a book focusing on the environment. As a reviewer in the Economist suggested, one "need not share Alberto Manguel's indignation or the views it presupposes to enjoy this collection of writings."
Manguel addresses a vast theme in A History of Reading, a scholarly yet idiosyncratic book. The lengthy and wide-ranging study includes personal commentary and autobiographical material in which the author's passion for reading is clearly present. The book's structure is also personalized; rather than using a chronological or otherwise formulaic organization, Manguel's chapters are based on unifying themes. As Michael Milburn explained in the New York Times Book Review: "Manguel probes his topic's logical and unpredictable roots, delivering concise histories of writing, memorization, bookmaking, vision, [and] eyeglasses," among other ideas. The book is filled with fascinating stories about famous readers and book collectors through the ages. It also concerns itself with the evolving form of books and includes a great number of reproductions of related items.
Critical response to A History of Reading was overwhelmingly positive. While Milburn expressed occasional dislike for the author's mode of expression, he noted: "Stylistic complaints aside, one feels … envious of his passion and grateful for this prodigious book; through it, his gift becomes our own." New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani called A History of Reading "a highly subjective and highly entertaining overview that leaves us with both a new appreciation of our own bibliomania and a deeper understanding of the role the written work has played throughout history." Writing for American Scholar, Jonathan Elukin considered the work to include "a dazzling range of subjects" and added that Manguel "leads us gently and naturally from one subject to another."
Manguel received praise not only for being informative and for exhibiting a love for books that was shared by critics, he was also credited with a larger effect. Elukin saw A History of Reading as championing the individual reader: "One of the book's charms is how Manguel energizes different acts of reading. We all become heroic readers." Elukin also noted its bolstering of the reading public in general, writing that "Manguel's book helps assert the vitality of a culture of reading." Maclean's contributor Brian Bethune wrote: "One of Manguel's early priorities is a discussion of the science of how we read." Bethune went on to note that "it is readers, not writers, who give the text meaning." Bethune further remarked that the author's "erudite, meandering and altogether beguiling study of an abiding human passion, proves his point—the history of reading is the history of each reader."
Manguel and coeditor Craig Stephenson present a variety of short stories featuring gay protagonists in In Another Part of the Forest: An Anthology of Gay Short Fiction. Unlike similar anthologies, this collection also features several noted writers usually not associated with gay fiction, such as William Faulkner, Theodore Sturgeon, and Daphne du Maurier. The editors also include short fiction by writers who known for dealing with gay themes or for being gay themselves, including Truman Capote, Christopher Isherwood, and Tennessee Williams. Commenting on the eclectic selection of writers included in the collection, Ray Olson wrote in Booklist that the anthology "surveys another, albeit overlapping, part of the forest, indeed."
In his book Into the Looking-Glass Wood: Essays on Books, Reading, and the World Manguel focuses primarily on literature and politics as he examines a broad range of writers and writings, including G.K. Chesterton, Cynthia Ozick, various poets, and the Old Testament Book of Jonah. The twenty-three essays include both personal and literary ruminations on topics such as Manguel's memories of his childhood and a homage to one of his early mentors. He also writes of Argentinean political issues, such as the idea of giving amnesty to war criminals, which the author opposes. "Although the book feels like a publisher's hotchpotch of academic essays (with footnotes), political articles and literary anecdotes, there is enough here to justify the venture," wrote James Hopkin in the New Statesman. Hopkin also noted that the collection "makes up in wisdom what it lacks in warmth." Other reviewers were more enthusiastic about the volume. For example, in her review in Booklist, Donna Seaman noted the author's "supple and unpredictable lines of reasoning." Writing in Library Journal, Nancy R. Ives commented that the author's "intricate knowledge of books shines through as do his humor and scholarship."
Manguel writes about art and artists in his collection of essays titled Reading Pictures: A History of Love and Hate. The author discusses works by artists such as Cezanne, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline. However, he also incorporates his interest in literature into the essays, introducing writings and thoughts about art by writers such as Ezra Pound and Samuel Becket, as well as the thoughts of noted psychologist and philosopher William James. Paul Trachtman, writing in the Smithsonian, commented that the author provides "a collection of essays so full of interesting information about pictures that the paintings themselves seem to pale in the light of his ruminations." In his review in Library Journal, Martin R. Kalfatovic called the book an "engaging and learned exploration of eleven works of art."
In A Reading Diary Manguel combines travels taken to various cities in 2002 and 2003 with the books he read on each journey. He visits his hometown of Buenos Aires, Paris, and London, as well as cities in Germany and Canada. The author comments on various social aspects of the areas he visits and ruminates on more philosophical questions, such as what does someone's "homeland" really mean to them. In addition, Manguel writes about family and friends, including fellow writers, and about other writers such as Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, and Margaret Atwood. Calling the book "a gold mine," a Publishers Weekly contributor also commented that the author's "exquisitely distilled style and gentle humility are pure pleasure." Some critics noted the book's value to other writers. For example, in a review in the Writer, Erika Dreifus wrote: "For writers, Manguel's book offers the chance to study the craft by reading, assisted by an expert interpreter." Commenting on the long literary history of published diaries, Seaman wrote in Booklist that Manguel's "approach is unique in his selections, his perceptions, and his savoir faire."
Manguel uses his admiration of the work of Robert Louis Stevenson as a plot device in his mystery Stevenson under the Palm Trees. The story, partially based on actual letters by Stevenson, revolves around the classic author, who is suffering from tuberculosis in the South Sea island of Samoa. Following the rape and murder of a local woman, Stevenson begins to suspect that it may have something to do with his newfound acquaintance, Mr. Baker, a Scottish missionary. The book, which includes woodcut printed attributed to Stevenson, features a story line that is a homage to Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Referring to Stevenson under the Palm Trees as "a delectable little volume," Seaman also noted that the author "muses on the role of stories in culture." Other critics generally praised the short novel. For example, a Kirkus Reviews contributor called it "a small but rich little instant classic, as though Joseph Conrad had sent up a perfect new tale from the silence beyond the grave."
The author writes about one of his literary idols in With Borges. Manguel, who read to the noted author Jorge Luis Borges after Borges had gone blind, writes about the author's works, life, and his influence on Manguel. Malcolm Deas, writing in the Spectator, noted that Manguel "avoids the excessive reverence of which Borges in life and death has been a frequent victim" adding: "Manguel gives in his small compass a lot of facts."
In The Library at Night Manguel takes his experience of designing and building his own home library and distills it into a meditation on how libraries represent the memories of not only individual people but entire cultures. Writing in Biography, Jessica Warner called The Library at Night "one of those great books" in that its entirety is not overshadowed by any specific essay or section.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scholar, fall, 1997, Jonathan Elukin, review of A History of Reading, p. 614.
Biography, summer, 2003, Rene de Ceccatty, review of With Borges, p. 517; winter, 2007, Jessica Warner, review of The Library at Night, p. 145.
Booklist, May 15, 1994, Ray Olson, review of In Another Part of the Forest: An Anthology of Gay Short Fiction, p. 1664; October 1, 1995, Janet St. John, review of A Blue Tale, and Other Stories, p. 253; May 15, 1998, Mary Ellen Quinn, reviews of Fathers and Sons and Mothers and Daughters, p. 1595; December 1, 1998, Donna Seaman, review of By the Light of the Glow-Worm Lamp, p. 627; November 15, 1999, Holly Cooley, review of Ports of Call, p. 604; August, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of Into the Looking-Glass Wood: Essays on Books, Reading, and the World, p. 2098; September 15, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of Reading Pictures: A History of Love and Hate, p. 175; September 15, 2004, Donna Seaman, review of A Reading Diary, p. 194; September 15, 2004, Donna Seaman, review of Stevenson under the Palm Trees, p. 214.
Economist, February 13, 1999, review of By the Light of the Glow-Worm Lamp, p. S8.
Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, March, 2000, Claire Fogg, review of Bride of Frankenstein, p. 129.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2004, review of A Reading Diary, p. 675; September 1, 2004, review of Stevenson under the Palm Trees, p. 827; January 15, 2006, review of The Secret Supper, p. 60.
Library Journal, June 1, 1998, Nancy R. Ives, reviews of Fathers and Sons and Mothers and Daughters, p. 164; August, 2000, Nancy R. Ives, review of Into the Looking Glass Wood, p. 103; September 1, 2001, Martin R. Kalfatovic, review of Reading Pictures, p. 175; September 1, 2004, Robert Kelly, review of A Reading Diary, p. 149; October 15, 2004, Susanne Wells, review of Stevenson under the Palm Trees, p. 55; February 1, 2006, Lisa O'Hara, review of The Secret Supper, p. 74.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 7, 1991, Richard Eder, review of News from a Foreign Country Came, p. 3.
Maclean's, November 4, 1996, Brian Bethune, review of A History of Reading, p. 67.
New Statesman, April 26, 1999, James Hopkin, review of Into the Looking-Glass Wood, p. 46.
Newsweek, February 19, 1981, Peter S. Prescott, review of The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, p. 86.
New York Times, December 2, 1996, Michiko Kakutani, review of A History of Reading, p. B3.
New York Times Book Review, August 26, 1984, Jack Sullivan, review of Black Water, p. 16; May 4, 1986, Mary Morris, review of Other Fires, p. 35; November 17, 1996, Michael Milburn, review of A History of Reading, p. 37.
Publishers Weekly, June 7, 1993, review of Soho Square III, p. 66; September 20, 1993, review of Two by Duras, p. 66; October 18, 1993, review of The Redemption of the Cannibal Woman; and Other Stories, p. 68; June 13, 1994, review of In Another Part of the Forest, p. 62; July 31, 1995, review of A Blue Tale, and Other Stories, p. 66; June 19, 2000, review of Into the Looking-Glass Wood, p. 65; July 2, 2001, review of Reading Pictures, p. 61; August 23, 2004, review of Stevenson under the Palm Trees, p. 40; August 1, 1994, review of Watteau in Paris, p. 73; June 28, 2004, review of A Reading Diary, p. 39; January 2, 2006, review of The Secret Supper, p. 33.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, spring, 1994, Steven Moore, review of Two by Duras, p. 233; spring, 1995, Alexander Theroux, review of Watteau in Venice, p. 163.
Smithsonian, March, 2002, Paul Trachtman, review of Reading Pictures, p. 110.
Spectator, March 23, 1991, Celestria Noel, review of News from a Foreign Country Came, p. 38; April 7, 2001, Jonathan Keates, review of Reading Pictures, p. 33; August 6, 2005, Jasper Griffin, review of A Reading Diary, p. 37; June 10, 2006, Malcolm Deas, review of With Borges.
Washington Post Book World, July 19, 1987, review of Dark Arrows, p. 12; May 5, 1991, Richard Ryan, review of News from a Foreign Country Came, p. 6.
Writer, June, 2005, Erika Dreifus, review of A Reading Diary, p. 48.
WordFest,http://www.wordfest.com/ (April 11, 2007), brief profile of author.