The City of Words by Alberto Manguel: Review

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Oscar Ruiz Loera A01083875
Group 30
Dalia Garza
October 31st 2011

What Defines Humanity

Alberto Manguel writes about social classes, in his book “The City of Words” Mangel starts of by saying: “Language is our common denominator” by this, the author is trying to tell us that the human race is identified with its nationality, its culture, its tradition and everything else that separates each individual from other nationalities but at the same time resembles equality within one nation, Manguel establishes how each nation is in a constant fight to be the best, in every aspect; sports, economy, politics, religion, and such. Manguel recalls that these different cultures are always engaging in an “us” versus “the others” battle and that action is in fact the human common denominator.

Discrimination takes place in this book, with competition for ascension of each culture; inequity comes into play as well. Manguel mentions as an example the slaves, how the Caucasians always put themselves on a pedestal as if God has put them on top of the human ethnicity and the colored skin civilization were meant to serve them. This is in fact a major problem in some countries, even though is not widely accepted; racism is still found nowdays day. In “The City of Words”, the last chapter’s main idea is about how these constant confrontations have had a cultural impoverishment since the early Middle Ages due to a superfluous and ultimately unessential social system.

Language, as the first phrase of Manguel book says, is very important for our society, it does not only communicate but it can do wonderful things as well, such as poetry: “Another custom of the tribe are the poets. A man decides to line up six or seven riddling words. He cannot contain himself and shouts them out, standing in the middle of a circle formed by the witch-doctors and the common folk as they lie flat on the ground. If the poem does not excite them, nothing happens; but if the words of...
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