From Library Journal
An experienced traveler and the author of five books, including How Proust Can Change Your Life, De Botton here offers nine essays concerning the art of travel. Divided into five sections "Departure," "Motives," "Landscape," "Art," and "Return" the essays start with one of the author's travel experiences, meander through artists or writers related to it, and then intertwine the two. De Botton's style is very thoughtful and dense; he considers events of the moment and relates them to his internal dialog, showing how experiences from the past affect the present. In "On Curiosity," for example, which describes a weekend in Madrid, De Botton compares his reliance on a very detailed guidebook to the numerous systematic measurements Alexander von Humboldt made during his 1799 travels in South America. De Botton compares Humboldt's insatiable desire for detail with his own ennui and wish that he were home. There are also details about a fight over dessert, the van Gogh trail in Provence, and Wordsworth's vision of nature. Although well written and interesting, this volume will have limited popular appeal. Recommended for larger public libraries. Alison Hopkins, Brantford P.L., ON
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Rather than lavishing pages on the sumptuous taste of a sun-ripened olive in Provence, philosopher de Botton examines what inspires us to escape the humdrum and purchase tickets to Tahiti, tromp through the countryside, or wander Rome. Left to one voice, such an inquiry might grow dull, but de Botton uses the lives and works of artists and writers to explore the premise. With each chapter, the author dissects our motivation to depart normality and go (he quotes Baudelaire) "anywhere, anywhere!" De Botton's anecdotal accounts of his own travels illustrate the theme of each chapter, such as exoticism or escapism, showing the unexpected (but all too common) disappointments inherent in getting away. Then, using the interior and artistic lives of others, de Botton probes the psychological underpinnings of why we go. The book shines when discussing Flaubert's lifelong urge for Egypt and painter Edward Hopper's affinity for the desolation of fuel stops and Automats. This literary travelogue feeds hungry readers seeking self-insight. Nicole WallerCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved