Word and World

Today, almost everything around us encourages us not to think, to be content with commonplaces, with dogmatic language that divides the world neatly in white and black, good and evil, them and us. This is the language of extremism, a language that pretends to communicate but, under several guises, simply bullies; it expects no answer except obedient silence.

To step outside that constricted vocabulary into a vaster, richer and, above all, more ambiguous one, is terrifying, because this other realm of words has no boundaries and is perfectly equivalent to thought, emotion, intuition. This infinite vocabulary is open to us if we will take the time and make the effort of exploring it, and over our many centuries it has wrought words out of experience in order to reflect experience back to us, to allow us to understand the world and ourselves. To imagine is to dissolve barriers, to ignore boundaries, to subvert the vision of the world imposed upon us.

Ultimately, every crisis of society is a crisis of the imagination.

My own imagination has been constantly fed by my library, which has been an unending source of insight into humanity. It has constantly expanded my universe and I have shared it with readers through my books. Now I am able to share it directly with others, a library of serendipitous discovery of the expressions of writers from different languages, cultures and contexts, one that encourages dialogue and the questioning mind. May it offer to its new users what it has given to me: a larger universe, deeper and more critical reflection about myself and the world around me, and eternal friendships.


Alberto Manguel

Espaço Atlântida is much more than a library.

In addition to housing over 40 thousand titles hand picked by Alberto Manguel is the centre for the study of the history of reading. It is the reading room of Alberto Manguel, Olga Tokarczuk, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Chico Buarque, Tolentino de Mendonça and many others. It’s an open window for readers of the world.

Strategic priorities and objectives

Espaço Atlântida – centre for the study of the history of reading is a municipal cultural institution with an international vocation, especially dedicated to the history of reading and Literary activities and studies.




Built around the library donated by Alberto Manguel to the Municipality of Lisbon, the Espaço Atlântida preserves, organises, develops and provides access to its multilingual collections in literature and humanities, organised around a focus on the history of reading.

Also among the objectives of Espaço Atlântida is to offer programmes and activities including public lectures, readings, performances and exhibitions; seminars and workshops for students and specialists; programmes for visiting researchers or writers with a view to the public presentation and dissemination of these projects; tours and visits for a variety of publics.

Espaço Atlântida aims to:

Foster interest in reading and in different literatures and cultures
Nurture and expand a community of readers, writers and researchers
Make available to readers collections in multiple languages
Bring to the public major figures in literature and related arts