Instead of exploring a particular place or culture, ‘The Art of Travel’ seeks to explore the reasons and desires behind our need to travel. It takes a look at our instinctive wish to seek out the exotic, the curious and the striking. It examines how we decide on where we would like to go, what we expect to find when we get there. And how we may enhance our excursions to meet these heady expectations.
De Botton draws on his own personal experiences of travel and weaves these together with the experiences and thoughts of a eclectic assortment of artists, explorers, philosophers and writers. These travelling companions include the likes of Edward Hopper, Vincent van Gough, Nietzsche, and William Wordsworth. In kind the book is illustrated with an assortment of the author’s personal photos, and famous works of art
The experience of taking off in an airplane is used as the ideal analogy of modern travel. After the exhilarating initial thrust of the craft, the world we know disappears beneath us. From above our lives and our troubles can seem small and insignificant, and looking forward from the window the world can appear to open up before us. The swiftness of the planes assent can symbolise the possibility of personal transformation. This, notes De Botton, can be turn out to be an illusion if we do not approach our travel in the right way. He chronicles his own disappointment on a trip to Barbados, taken to relieve a winter malaise. As he comments, ‘I had inadvertently brought myself with me to the island.’
In order to enhance the experience of travel Be Botton describes the ways we can open ourselves up to unusual places. How we can better absorb the culture, uniqueness and beauty of a place. And how we can use our travel experiences to improve our lives in a meaningful and lasting way.
What could turn out to be a rather dry and academic exercise is brought to life by De Botton’s graceful and elegant prose. Whether describing the daring climb of the volcanic peak of Mount Chimboraeo in Peru in 1802, by the pioneering scientist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt. Or the embracing solitude of his own visit to a motorway café on the M11 just last week, he is never less than entirely absorbing. The book is an illuminating and enlightening study for anyone who likes to travel. In this age of the low-cost airline and the cut-price package holiday this must surely include nearly every one of us.
Thanks for this. I have been eyeballing this book for a long time, and I may just go and get it now!
Thanks for reading. After your eBay addiction thread I almost feel a little guilty, but I'm glad you enjoyed the review!
I know! LOL!
That reminds me, I need to put two cheques in the post.
My step-daughter purchased this book prior to going on an extended holiday to Indonesia. I had the opportunity to quickly skim through it before she left. I thought it was excellent. She returns soon, hopefully with the book still in her posession so I can have a proper read.
Thank you for the review.