Cover image for Into the looking-glass wood : essays on books, reading, and the world
Into the looking-glass wood : essays on books, reading, and the world
Manguel, Alberto.
Personal Author:
First Harvest edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego, CA : Harcourt, 2000.

Physical Description:
272 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Toronto : Knopf, 1998.

"A Harvest original."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN75.M23 A25 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Alberto Manguel has enchanted hundreds of thousands of readers with his bestselling books, including The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. Now he has assembled a personal collection of his own essays that will enchant anyone interested in reading, writing, or the world. Through personal stories and literary reflections, in a style rich in humor and gentle scholarship, Manguel leads his readers to reflect on the links that bind the physical world to our language that describes it. The span of his attention in these twenty-three essays is enthralling: from "Who Am I?," in which he recounts the first adventures of childhood reading, to "Borges in Love," a memoir of the great blind writer's passions; from his first encounters with the evils of prejudice to a meditation on the death of Che Guevara; from a tour of his library to evocations of such of his favorite writers as Cortázar and Chesterton. A voyage deep into the subversive heart of words, Into the Looking-Glass Wood is fired by the author's humanity, insatiable curiosity, and steadfast belief in the essential power, mystery, and delight of the written word.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

An homage to Alice in Wonderland sets the tone for this smooth but predictable collection of miscellaneous pieces on literature and politics. In referencing Lewis Carroll's arch logicÄand later Borges's labyrinthine conundrumsÄcritic and professional bibliophile Manguel (A History of Reading) indulges his penchant for thinly spun theorizing on the relationship between reader and text, the power of words and naming and the hallowed status of literature and its practitioners. Manguel praises Cynthia Ozick, G.K. Chesterton and Canadian poet Richard Outram in a series of review-based essays, and elevates the entire put-upon class of writers in an extended tongue-in-cheek retelling of the Old Testament Book of Jonah. Two pieces on the genre of gay literature take up familiar debates of inclusion and exclusion; another piece raises interesting questions about "imaginary" or "armchair" Jews who take unearned pride in their heritage (but fails to answer them adequately). Born and raised in Argentina, ManguelÄwho currently resides in CanadaÄis at his sharpest and most original in his Argentine-themed essays: a piece on Borges's amorous adventures draws on Manguel's schoolboy memories of reading aloud to the blind writer; "In Memoriam" poignantly describes the fate of one of Manguel's first mentors, Marta Lynch, a popular Argentinean writer, in the aftermath of the 1966 military coup; and in "God's Spies," Manguel decries Mario Vargas Llosa's call for amnesty for Argentinean war criminals. When Manguel isn't waxing too lyrical, he is an able storyteller. In the end, however, the reader is liable to concur with Cynthia Ozick, as quoted by Manguel: "Fiction is all discovery.... Essays know too much." (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This collection of 23 personal stories and literary reflections celebrates writing, books, and the world. Self-confessed bibliophile and prolific author Manguel (A History of Reading; The Dictionary of Imaginary Places) explores the connections that bind the physical world to the language that describes it. Manguel includes essays on such diverse subjects as "Borges in Love," a memoir of the great Argentine writer; the author's encounters with prejudice; politics in Argentina; and the revolutionary Che Guevara. Particularly interesting are his insights into Argentina's political history, recounted in "God's Spies." Here he points out how the writing of horrific acts shows them to be conquerable and demystifies them. In another essay, he tells of his first experiences with reading and the profound influence books have had on his life. Manguel's intricate knowledge of books shines through as do his humor and scholarship. Recommended for public and academic libraries.DNancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.