The Consolations of Philosophy

Alison Lurie in the New York Review of Books
15 March 2007
In The Consolations of Philosophy he explains how writers as different as Plato, Epicurus, Seneca, and Schopenhauer can relieve us of anxiety for the future and financial loss and comfort a broken heart. Perhaps somewhat ironically, he often recommends an attitude of philosophical detachment. Read more

Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker
11 September 2002
Once again, de Botton employs what has become his unique literary combination punch – the left jabbing hard at immediate experience, the right swinging long from a muscular knowledge of philosophy and belles lettres – to take on a quotidian subject. Read more

Elena Lappin in Tages Anzeiger (Zurich)
May 2000
If you look up Alain de Botton’s internet website, you could be forgiven for thinking that his impressive gallery of photographs is a little on the boastful side. He looks like a young man who beams rather than smiles shyly at the camera, genuinely pleased that it may capture and faithfully reproduce his happiness. Read more

George Brock in The Times (Metro)
8-14 April 2000
I can honestly say that it is the only account of philosophical thought I have ever enjoyed reading. Whether glancing at Seneca’s theory of earthquakes (colossal geological flatulence), Montaigne on detumescence or Lucretius and Epicurus on the importance of advertising, de Botton laces the learning with gentle jokes, helpful parallels between ancient Rome and the 21st century and a refreshing faith that open-minded common sense is all you need to dig something helpful out of these dense and dusty texts. Read more

James Delingpole in The Spectator
8 April 2000
One of the good things about being Alain de Botton’s friend is that in literary circles you can refer to him casually in conversation as ‘Alain’ and people tend to be quietly impressed, rather as they would in Hollywood circles if you started dropping Christian names like Bobby, Marty or Quentin. Read more

Ben Rogers in The Sunday Telegraph
2 April 2000
Nietzsche believed, according to Alain de Botton, that artists are not so much born but self-made. It is by learning from their failures that great writers and painters are formed. Read more

Michael Upchurch in the Seattle Times
4 August 2002
It would be difficult to name a writer as erudite and yet as reader-friendly as British author Alain de Botton (“Kiss & Tell,” “How Proust Can Change Your Life”). He seems to have read every book, studied every painting, investigated every philosophy — but he would never dream of lording his accomplishments over his readers. Read more

Humphrey Carpenter in The Sunday Times
2 April 2000
The Consolations of Philosophy is certainly a commentary rather than a work of original thought; but few discussions on the great philosophers can have been so entertaining. De Botton takes us on a brisk, playful tour of the lives and ideas of half-a-dozen of the big names in the history of philosophy, done in the manner of his celebrated How Proust Can Change Your Life. Read more

John Banville in Irish Times
1 April 2000
No doubt about it, philosophy is the new rock and roll, and Alain de Botton is its Colonel Tom Parker. The Consolations of Philosophy is the book of the Channel 4 television series, Philosophy: A Guide to Life, written and presented by de Botton, and is also available as an audiobook, read by the author. Read more

Anthony Clare in the Literary Review
April 2000
At the heart of this witty, thoughtful, entertaining book is the provocative belief that there is no point in philosophy unless it helps dispel mental sufferings. In support of such an arguable thesis and to help us overcome such contemporary problems as unpopularity, poverty and wealth, frustration, human weakness and the afflictions of love, Alain de Botton summons a sextet of philosophers. Read more

Roger Scruton in the Mail on Sunday
26 March 2000
The title of Alain de Botton’s ride through the clouds is taken from the Roman philosopher Boethius, whose Consolation of Philosophy – not mentioned by de Botton – was a best-seller throughout the Middle Ages, being translated into English by none less than Chaucer. Read more

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