The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton (Pantheon, 272...

Editor's Choice

July 28, 2002|By Michael Pakenham

The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton (Pantheon, 272 pages, $23).

A jewel of civility, wit and insight; de Botton has produced wondrous essays that reflect upon museums, mini-bars, classic writers, airports and about anything else you could imagine that is related to travel. He does it in language that can be as luscious as a not-quite overripe pineapple, flashing often like crashing surf struck by a brilliant dawn. "If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness," de Botton writes, "then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest -- in all its ardour and paradoxes -- than our travels." Yes, this book is an invitation to hyperbole -- a volume to give one an expansive sense of wonder at just how much there is to see, and learn, and taste, if only one has been as sharply on the lookout as de Botton consistently seems to be.

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