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Reading Pictures

Reading Pictures

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Written by Alberto ManguelAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Alberto Manguel

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 352 pages
  •  
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • On Sale: October 15, 2002
  • Price: $19.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-375-75922-2 (0-375-75922-0)
about this book

This profoundly illuminating, entertaining book could well change the way we "read" the visual world around us, and certainly help open our eyes and minds to its astonishing riches. The language in which we speak about art has become steadily more abstruse, a jargon that only art critics and con-artists can understand, though for thousands of years this was not the case. Today, we live in a kaleidoscopic new world of images: Is there a vocabulary we can learn in order to read these images? Is there something we can do so as not to remain passive when we flip through an illustrated book, or download images on a screen? Are there ways in which we can "read" the stories within paintings, monuments, buildings and sculptures? We say "every picture tells a story"—but does it?

Taking a handful of extraordinary images—photographed, painted, built, sculpted—Alberto Manguel explores how each one attempts to tell a story that we, the viewer, must decipher or invent. A History of Love and Hate is not about art history or theory - it is about the astonishing pleasures and surprises of stories.


"Alberto Manguel is an expert explorer of what the French call the imaginaire—a word that combines imagination, imagery and the formation of images in the mind.... His own imagination is supple and generous, and his work is full of surprises…. he is in fact someone who works accurately and idiosyncratically in ordinary language, to our delight.… It is the scrupulous, high-powered conversation of a learned man, rather than professional 'criticism,'and the better for it….his own reflections, so unconstricted, so clear, so strange, are so very satisfying to his readers."
—A.S. Byatt, Washington Post, Sunday, October 28, 2001

“As a teacher, [Manguel] is profound and unpredictable, world-wise and erudite…. The artists Manguel chooses are surprising and fresh, and his sidetracks occasionally ignore standard biography. But the book provides plenty of appropriate visual images—only some of them familiar—alongside lovely, compassionate sentences.”
Quill & Quire, starred review, December 2000

“A book for readers who enjoy virtuoso performances…. Manguel leads the reader on a merry chase through the worlds of art history, literature…and philosophy….[A] splendid meander through his fascinating mind.”
Smithsonian

“There is so much in this book to admire, the sheer sweep and soar of ideas is invigorating. The writing, for all Manguel’s erudition, is quick and clear, stimulating in the extreme….This may be one of the best books you will read this year.”
The Independent