Posts Tagged ‘Gilgamesh’

Alberto Manguel, The City of Words, Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2007.

It’s become a cliché to call a book “thought-provoking” these days. Just about any non-fiction book gets the label. Yet I think there’s a big difference between a book that provokes thoughts of your own, and one that tells you what to think. I’m going to use the former definition, obviously, and so I can say without much reservation that The City of Words by Alberto Manguel is the most thought-provoking book I’ve read in a long while. Perhaps because Manguel raises plenty of questions, but provides few if any answers (as we might say, it’s the Question that’s the thing). Some people are going to be frustrated by this, but Manguel’s roundabout way of dealing with the subject illustrates something pretty important about literature as a whole and its relationship with society: stories change us by opening up multiple avenues of thought, allowing for multiple readings and interpretations by which the experience of the author and the experience of the reader intermingle in a rare way.


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I recently read The Epic of Gilgamesh and thought, “now, here is something that couldn’t possibly be more awesome.”  I was wrong.

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