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The Romantic Movement [Paperback]

Alain de Botton
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

8 Sep 1995

The Romantic Movement is the story of its beguiling heroine Alice and her quest for love, cataloguing the progress of her affair with Eric in all its thrills and pitfalls. Delightfully funny as well as moving, the novel elaborates on the psychology of men and women in love, posing and answering a hot of questions from ‘How does one come to know one’s partner’ to ‘What is the link between love, sex and shopping?’

‘Alain de Botton is a marvellous writer, and his novels are bliss to read if, like me, you are fascinated by what couples are like when they are alone together, and what is really going on in their minds’ Ysenda Maxton Graham, Evening Standard

‘It takes a most accomplished novelist to take the prosaic, ordinary routines of an unexceptional love affair and transform them into an exquisitely written and learned study of love in the real world. But this is what Alain de Botton has done . . . This novel is nothing less than a guide to the lies, truths, and foibles of modern love’ Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Times

‘His books are original hybrids, part novel, part philosophical reverie. They are solemn, ridiculous, charming and funny’ Kate Kellaway, Observer

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New Ed edition (8 Sep 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330335898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330335898
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 298,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alain de Botton is the author of Essays in Love (1993), The Romantic Movement (1994), Kiss and Tell (1995), How Proust can Change your Life (1997), The Consolations of Philosophy (2000) The Art of Travel (2002), Status Anxiety (2004) and most recently, The Architecture of Happiness (2006).

Product Description


""The Romantic Movement "sheds light on the nature of relationships . . . The method of telling much and showing little produces a good deal of wit, cogency, and humor."--John Updike, "The New Yorker" "A reader gets whiffs of Donald Barthelme, Julian Barnes, Woody Allen, the films of Eric Rohmer . . . Mr. de Botton borrows exuberantly, and well, from his forebears . . . therein lies the buoyant charm of the approach."--Lisa Zeidner, "The New York Times Book Review"

About the Author

Alain de Botton is the author of a number of books that try to throw light on the big challenges of our lives. His books have been sold in thirty-five countries and many have been international bestsellers, including How Proust Can Change Your Life, Essays in Love and The Art of Travel. He is the founder of two social enterprises, the first promoting architecture, Living Architecture (, which gets top architects to build holiday homes for rental by everyone. The second enterprise is The School of Life (

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A study of love 10 May 2006
In the first part of his novel, Mr de Botton introduces his main character, Alice, and discusses the notion of reality with the help of such philosophers as Heraclitus, Plato, Hegel or Shopenhauer and poses the question, following Oscar Wilde, whether art imitates life or life that imitates art. We may for instance like Paris more than London because we know the former city through the eyes of painters like Manet, Degas or Pissaro or through films by Truffaut or Godard. The author then discusses the difference between imitative and autonomous desire and then engages in the argument that Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary is the first novel (published in 1856) which links the two activities of sex and shopping which are psychologically intertwined.

Then Alice meets Eric at a party and this gives the author the opportunity to write about love, indeterminacy, the idealisation of the lover, the value systems in a love relationship or the power in love. Do we love the partner's money, body, achievements, weaknesses or anxieties? Is thinking problem-induced or problem-inducing? How does the cultural baggage of infancy and youth, of relations and traditions influence one's relationship with a partner?

This book is an original hybrid, part novel, part philosophical reverie which is not without charm. Some readers have complained that Alain de Botton all too often states the obvious and it is true that his novel does not present any revelations but it is enjoyable to read nevertheless.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - intelligent, witty and touching 17 Nov 2000
By A Customer
I loved this book! ... It's a funny and very original and unusual analysis of of a relationship between Alice and Eric, taking modern problems and adding a philsophical analysis, with references to Flaubert, Pavlov's dog etc. But it's not overly clever too - the style is simple and lucid so you don't have to be an academic to enjoy it. But what was really amazing about this book was that it's written from a female viewpoint. I have never read a book, written by a man, that conveys a female pyschology with such accuracy and sensitivity. Extraordinary!
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31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Clever but uninvolving novel: better as an essay 13 May 2001
By A Customer
Alain de Botton has written a smart variation on the romantic novel by taking the basic structure of a Mills and Boon fantasy and using it as a springboard for philosophical reflections on the nature of romantic love. The result is a curious hybrid, which is satisfying neither as a novel nor as an essay, but has something of the nature of each. It as though a middlebrow academic had been invited to make marginal comments on a trashy novella, and been slightly carried away.
The integration of the material is better than that description suggests, but the constant diversion away from the matter of the story to the more abstract matter of de Botton's divagations on the theme of love becomes irritating, as do his strenuous attempts to flesh out characters whose function as pegs for ideas is rather too evident. The philosophical material is banal, as though the author is constantly having to remind himself that he is in fact writing a work of popular fiction, and so cannot risk difficulty.
"The Romantic Movement" is never less than readable, but one can see why de Botton has since become known for non-fictional investigations of philosophy and Proust, rather than as a novelist.
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