The City of Words: Understanding Civilisation Through Story

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Macmillan, 2008 - Ethnic conflict - 166 pages
2 Reviews
'And yet stories, even the best and truest, can't save us from our own folly. Stories can't protect us from suffering and error, from natural and artificial catastrophes, from our own suicidal greed. The only thing they can do is ... offer consolation for suffering and words to name our experience. Stories can tell us who we are ... and suggest ways of imagining a future that, without calling for comfortable happy endings, may offer us ways of remaining alive, together, on this much-abused earth.' Based on Canada's 2007 CBC Massey Lectures (to be broadcast in Australia by ABC Radio National in April 2008), Alberto Manguel's The City of Wordstakes a fresh look at the rise of violent intolerance in our societies. We strive to build societies with sets of values all citizens can agree on. But something has gone wrong: race riots in France, political murder in the Netherlands, bombings in Britain and Bali - are these symptoms of a multicultural experiment gone awry? Why is it so difficult for us to live together when the alternatives are demonstrably horrifying? With his trademark wit and erudition, Alberto Manguel suggests a fresh approach: we should look at what visionaries, poets, novelists, essayists and filmmakers have to say about building societies. Perhaps the stories we tell hold secret keys to the human heart. From Cassandra to Jack London, the Epic of Gilgameshto the computer Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Don Quixoteto Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, Manguel draws fascinating and revelatory parallels between the personal and political realities of our present-day world and those of myth, legend and story.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
The Tablets of Gilgamesh
29
The Bricks of Babel
55
The Books of Don Quixote
87
The Screen of Hal
117
Acknowledgements
147
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

David Dyergrew up in a coastal town in NSW, Australia, and graduated as dux of his high school in 1984. After commencing a degree in medicine and surgery at the University of Sydney, he soon decided it was not for him.

David went on to train as a ship's officer at the Australian Maritime College, travelling Australia and the world in a wide range of merchant ships. He graduated from the college with distinction and was awarded a number of prizes, including the Company of Master Mariners Award for highest overall achievement in the course. He then returned to the University of Sydney to complete a combined degree in Arts and Law. David was awarded the Frank Albert Prize for first place in Music I, High Distinctions in all English courses and First Class Honours in Law. From the mid-1990s until early 2000s David worked as a litigation lawyer in Sydney, and then in London at a legal practice whose parent firm represented the Titanic's owners back in 1912. In 2002 David returned to Australia and obtained a Diploma in Education from the University of New England, and commenced teaching English at Kambala, a school for girls in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

David has had a life-long obsession with the Titanic and has become an expert on the subject. In 2009 he was awarded a Commonwealth Government scholarship to write The Midni

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