31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Clever but uninvolving novel: better as an essay,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Romantic Movement (Paperback)
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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Oct 2008 09:06:29 BDT
Amazon Customer says:
I am having problems reading this book as well. Having read Alain's later works I am enjoying the wit but finding the story a bit contrived. To read a story you need to suspend disbelief but the constant analysis is becoming tiresome. I'll probably discontinue and reread 'consolations of philosopy' one of my favourite books.
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Apr 2009 17:54:09 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Apr 2009 17:57:56 BDT
Mr. T. White says:
Please try "Essays In Love", which I feel is a brilliant novel by De Botton.
On an aside, I've just returned today from a talk of his in the RSA, and to describe a man who is as gifted a thinker as De Botton is - as a "middle-brow academic" - is most unfair and a most undeserving analogy.
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