"To say the important things, you don’t use dialogue."
— Michel Hazanavicius
"Bloomsbury, the publishers who once boasted Nadine Gordimer and Margaret Atwood on their list (though those now “safe” modern classics are still published by them), bring out Jane Austen and Charles Dickens in editions for an illiterate audience with cute introductions by bestselling “chick-lit” novelists such as Meg Cabot, of The Princess Diaries fame. Cabot writes: “OK, so I’ll admit it: I saw the movie first … But, as I had discovered from reading Peter Benchley’s book Jaws, sometimes there are scenes in the book that aren’t in the movie … The movies always leave something out. Which is what makes Pride and Prejudice such a joy to read over and over. Because you can make up your own movie about it—in your head."
— Alberto Manguel on how the publishing industry underestimates the readers
"A superb chapter on the “reading” of Hamlet by a West African tribe, the Tiv, illustrates how reading must, to varying degrees, be culturally shaped. This revelation is not earth-shattering, but the example is delightful. An American anthropologist, Laura Bohannan, working among the Tiv, spent some of her time in her hut, reading Hamlet. The Tiv asked her what she was doing, and Bohannan told them the story of the melancholy Dane. But things did not go well. To begin with, the Tiv did not believe in ghosts; for them, Hamlet’s father could only be a portent sent by a sorcerer; even if the dead father could speak, he would not have entrusted young Hamlet with a mission, since the young are not to be trusted; the fact that Hamlet’s mother wasted no time in marrying Hamlet’s uncle seemed to the Tiv the right decision, because otherwise (as the wife of the chief observed), “Who will work your field during the time you’re without a husband?” In the end, Bohannan gave up."
— Alberto Manguel on how to talk about books we haven’t read
"James Joyce, in his old age, was stopped by an admirer on the street, who bowed to him and exclaimed: “Master! May I kiss the hand that wrote Ulysses?” To which Joyce answered: “No, it’s done lots of other things besides.” All appointed role models have done “lots of other things besides."
— Alberto Manguel on role models and readers
"He picked up the copy of La Nación—already read by his mother—with his fingertips, tucked it under his arm, and, moving swiftly, went down to the street and crossed over to the Plaza San Martín. There he lifted his arm, allowing the newspaper to drop onto a park bench. He had a habitual distrust of the news."
From “Jorge Luis Borges: A Day in the Life”