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The Art of Travel Paperback – May 11, 2004
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 Waller
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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I was intrigued by the artistic and philosophical approach that De Botton used to describe travel experiences. I've gained much insight from works of 18th and 19th century writers and artists including: Humboldt, Flaubert, Wordsworth, Thomas Gray, Van Gogh, Ruskinsnd De Maistre.
I encountered many quotes that resonated with me, including:
"Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train."
"There are certain scenes that would ASEAN atheist into belief without the help of any other argument."
"A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is the desire to hold on to it: to possess it and give it weight in our lives. There is an urge to say, 'I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.'"
I recommend this book to fellow travellers and art lovers.
De Botton deeply explores the sensations of travel. He opened my mind to ways of feeling travel that I may have remotely felt but not had the skill to dwell on and fully develop. I say "immersive" because the book is an experience. Meandering, but gracefully guided by De Botton, I emerged on the other side of my reading as a different person, a more sensitive and attentive traveler. Unthought-of possibilities of thinking, doing, and feeling while traveling are now in my mind. I have a kinship with De Botton, but also with his subjects like Baudelaire, Flaubert, Edward Hopper, the explorer Humbolt, and Ruskin. Excellent company!
I normally would read this book quite quickly however throughout there were sections that made me stop and reflect on my own travel experiences. At each page turn my values and approaches to travel was challenged and critiqued and I loved it!
Three key takeaways from the book:
1. I'm torn between Pascal's perspective of truly enjoying and taking in a historical artifact (or art) versus being an artist where you take in what you see and then create something unique and creative that enhances the experience for you and for others. I believe that there is room for both depending on the situation. Such as life today where people photograph and video things versus stopping to just enjoy the experience.
2. We want to be happy in our lives and travel seems to provide us with a mechanism to do that. The problem is that we only experience this happiness while traveling because we are outside of the constraints of work and our struggle to survive
3. De Botton advocates travelling alone to be an advantage. He believes that responses to the world are molded by the company that we keep, therefore we align our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others.