Interviewed by Charles-Adam Foster-Simard
Alberto Manguel was born in Buenos Aires in 1948 and is one of the world’s most renowned bibliophiles. He is also an accomplished novelist, essayist, translator, editor, and anthologist—he has written and edited over 40 books since 1980, including reader favourites like The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, A History of Reading, The Library at Night, and All Men Are Liars. In 2007, he delivered the CBC Massey Lectures titled The City of Words, which was published as a book by House of Anansi Press. Manguel currently lives in France, in a renovated medieval presbytery that also houses his 30,000 books.
I approached Mr. Manguel by letter in order to ask him if he would be amenable to this interview. He informed me that he has recently acquired an email address and agreed to answer my questions electronically.
You moved a great deal throughout your life. You were born and grew up in Argentina (and in Israel for several years), and then spent some time in Italy, Tahiti, England, Canada, and France, where you now reside full-time. Generally, what was a common impetus behind these moves, and in what country did you feel more comfortable and supported as a writer?
Chance. Borges has a story in which a man spends his life travelling, criss-crossing the world, doing all sorts of things. At the end of his life, he looks at the line his movements have traced and it depicts the features of his face. Maybe that’s what all my travel is about: an exercise in self-portraiture.
What country I feel most comfortable in? I judge my comfort through the place I’m in and the people I’m with, not a country in general. Countries are too vast and multifaceted for that. Where am I most supported as a writer? Curiously enough, countries in which I don’t live: Turkey, Spain, Brazil… [Read more…]