The urge to be somewhere else is one of the abiding traits of human nature; in The Art of Travel author Alain de Botton (The Consolations of Philosophy, How Proust Can Change Your Life) sets out to discover why in his own inimitably witty and discursive way.
Of course, the proximate reasons we travel are many and various: as de Botton explains. Using the travel experiences of great writers and artists, like Van Gogh, Ruskin, Huysmans and Wordsworth (in Provence, Venice, Belgium and the Lake District respectively), de Botton shows that men will travel to see beautiful buildings, or climb beautiful mountains, or make love to beautiful (and comparatively amoral) women. But, using the same artists, de Botton also shows that there is an underlying theme to all travel: the urge for difference, for the rhapsody of change. That this is an urge more often disappointed than gratified only makes the condition more poignant. One of de Botton's best chapters, on Flaubert, amplifies this tragicomic point: the French novelist spent enervating years in genteel Normandy longing for the sensual splendours of Egypt, then, when he finally reached the pyramids, he promptly lapsed into maudlin nostalgia for rainy, bourgeois Rouen.
If there are flaws in this, de Botton's latest and perhaps most readable book, they are the usual suspects: just occasionally the author comes across as a bit long-winded and self-regarding. However, this is such a pleasant and effortless read even these flaws can be taken as endearing characteristics--like the lizards who kip in the bath in your otherwise idyllic holiday villa.--Sean Thomas
'Lucid, fluid, uplifting' Sunday Times
The Art of Travel is Alain de Botton's travel guide with a difference: an exploration of why we travel and what we learn when we do
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Few activities seem to promise is as much happiness as going travelling: taking off for somewhere else, somewhere far from home, a place with more interesting weather, customs and landscapes. But although we are inundated with advice on where to travel to, we seldom ask why we go and how we might become more fulfilled by doing so.
With the help of a selection of writers, artists and thinkers - including Flaubert, Edward Hopper, Wordsworth and Van Gogh - Alain de Botton's bestselling The Art of Travel provides invaluable insights into everything from holiday romance to hotel minibars, airports to sightseeing.
The perfect antidote to those guides that tell us what to do when we get there, The Art of Travel tries to explain why we really went in the first place - and helpfully suggest how we might be happier on our journeys.
'Richly evocative, sharp and funny. De Botton proves himself to be a very fine travel writer indeed' Sunday Telegraph
'Delightful, profound, entertaining, I doubt if de Botton has written a dull sentence in his life' Jan Morris
'An elegant and subtle work, unlike any other. Beguiling' Colin Thubron, The Times
Alain de Botton was born in 1969 and is the author of non-fiction essays on themes ranging from love and travel to architecture and philosophy. His bestselling books include Essays in Love; The Romantic Movement; Kiss and Tell; Status Anxiety; How Proust Can Change Your Life; The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work; The Art of Travel; The Architecture of Happiness and Religion for Atheists. He lives in London and founded The School of Life (www.theschooloflife.com) and Living Architecture (www.living-architecture.co.uk). For more information, consult www.alaindebotton.com.
About the Author
Alain de Botton was born in 1969. He is the author of ESSAYS IN LOVE, THE ROMANTIC MOVEMENT, KISS AND TELL, HOW PROUST CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE and THE CONSOLATIONS OF PHILOSOPHY.