The Art of Travel

Alison Lurie in the New York Review of Books
15 March 2007
De Botton’s The Art of Travel (2002) is a collection of entertaining and perceptive meditations on his subject, considered through the work of well-known writers: J.-K. Huysmans on the anticipation and rejection of travel, Baudelaire on ambivalence toward places, Flaubert on the attractions of the Orient, Wordsworth on the benevolent moral effects of nature, Burke on the sublime, and Ruskin on the importance of careful observation. 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

Chris Wright in the Boston Phoenix
20 June 2004
A lunch date with Alain de Botton can be a daunting prospect. A former philosophy professor at London University, the 32-year-old Swiss-born, London-based author has been known to rattle off lines like, “I am no great fan of Boethius.” Read more

Interview with Robert Birnbaum in
August 2002
Alain de Botton is the author of six books, three of them ostensibly novels: On Love, The Romantic Movement and Kiss and Tell. His first non-fiction book, How Proust Can Change Your Life: Not a Novel, was an international bestseller and was published in 20 languages. Read more

Kendall Hill in the Sydney Morning Herald
17 August 2002
Don’t read The Art of Travel while you’re actually on the road or mid-flight – it doesn’t work. You can’t romanticise travel for very long when you’re stuck in it. Read more

Carmela Ciuraru in the Los Angeles Times
11 August 2002
In his latest book of nonfiction, aptly titled “The Art of Travel,” De Botton meditates on the rewards and realities of travel, seeking to understand its mysterious pull by way of art, literature and his own decidedly mixed experiences. He relates even the most disappointing experiences with delightful wit, graceful prose and surprising insight. 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

John Freeman in the San Francisco Chronicle
4 August 2002
Over the past decade a new crop of professional travelers has emerged. These gourmands regale us with their stories of truffle hunting in Provence or sipping wine in Tuscany. It’s so easy, their books implore — just drop everything and indulge. Read more

Erich Eichman in the Wall Street Journal
1 August 2002
It is sometimes said that travel narrows the mind. Alain de Botton would not agree, but he isn’t about to get on a soapbox and insist that you travel to an ancient Roman village to improve your sense of history, or fault you if you decide to stay put this summer, avoiding the ordeal of what is often wrongly called a holiday. Read more

Randolph Delehanty in the Star Tribune
27 July 2002
British essayist and philosopher Alain de Botton’s latest book exudes erudition and artfulness. Taking travel as his ostensible theme, de Botton gently instructs us about seeing, thinking and feeling. Read more

Ted Allen in Esquire
He is nothing if not observant, this Alain de Botton. Nothing is getting past him, with his little notebooks and stubs of pencil, lurking about European cities, sniffing, giving your wife and your car and your dog and anything else within range an unapologetic once-over, or maybe twice — and then dashing off tidy, piquant essays. Read more

Maureen Gaffney in Irish Times
1 May 2004
After reading a newspaper profile of someone prominent and successful, do you find that you sometimes react with a preoccupied gaze, a brittle smile? Read more

The Idler
4 June 2002
Where should one chance to first encounter Alain de Botton’s latest philosophical excursion, The Art of Travel, but in an airport bookshop? Read more

Kirkus Reviews
1 April 2004
First of all, the author insists, this is not all our fault. For almost two millennia society actually celebrated the poor who were – fortunately for society – locked down in place on the agrarian, feudal landscape doing its dirtiest and most essential jobs. Read more

Annete Kobak in the Times Literary Supplement
31 May 2002
“Bad art”, Alain de Botton suggests in the Art of Travel, “could be defined as a series of bad choices as to what to show and what to leave out.” By this criterion, de Botton’s own writing is getting to be better and better art. Read more

Alex Martin in Scotland on Sunday
25 May 2002
FOR millions of people, travel is the new religion. While churches grow emptier, the skies fill up with aeroplanes. Travel offers the readiest means of escape from anxiety and pointlessness. Read more

Interview with Boyd Tonkin in the Independent
25 May 2002
Alain de Botton aims to change the way we travel. Forget about that breathless search for distant thrills, and concentrate on enjoying where you are – even in a motorway café. Boyd Tonkin meets the visionary voyager. Read more

Andrew Roberts in the New Statesman
22 March 2004
I suffer acutely from status anxiety. There, I’ve said it. I’ve come out as a chronic sufferer from a modern disease so shameful that it hardly dares speak its name. According to Alain de Botton’s perceptive study, anxiety about our place in society is the modern world’s dirty little secret. Read more

Rory MacLean in The Sunday Times
19 May 2002
For the last year of his life, my uncle, who was dying of multiple sclerosis, never pushed his wheelchair beyond the end of his garden. A determined, fleet-footed life ended with him digging bone meal into the roses. “My greatest sorrow is that this disease forces me to be predictable,” he once told me. “It makes me a man of habits.” Read more

John Preston in the Sunday Telegraph
19 May 2002
Near the beginning of his book on what prompts us to travel and what benefits we hope to get from it, Alain de Botton cites the case of the Duc des Esseintes, the hero of J. K. Huysmans’ 19th-century novel, A Rebours. Read more

Tom Adair in The Scotsman
18th May 2002
At first I thought De Botton’s treatise no more than an opportune successor to his bracing and entertaining, The Consolations of Philosophy. It begs the question: is travel artful? Does it involve application of skills? Read more

Sarah Wheeler in the Literary Review
May 2002
This is a provocative book by a young writer who rocketed to fame in 1997 with How Proust Can Change Your Life. Alain de Botton went on to consolidate his reputation as a dashing media egghead de nos jours with his television series The Consolations of Philosophy. Read more

Colin Thubron in The Times
15 May 2002
No rules exist about how to travel, and this book — despite its title — does not prescribe them. Its attention is turned inward on the traveller, not outward on the journey. It is a foray into consciousness. Read more

Melanie McGrath in The Evening Standard
13 May 2002
Every other week, a survey appears from some God-or-grant-forsaken university telling us how long we spend, on average, thinking about sex or eating or taking a pee. But how much time, I wonder, do most of us drizzle away daydreaming about getting away from it all? Read more

Jan Morris in the New Statesman
6 May 2002
This entirely delightful book has an ambiguous title. Does it refer to the skill of travelling properly, or does it mean the matter of travel as the subject of art? Read more

Comments are closed.