'The Art of Travel'. Alain de Botton is a really talented writer with his masterful articulation.
Personally, I think a student would be wasting their time going page by page to find useful quotes and analyses.
The book is structured in a way that each chapter has a different central theme and focus, hence you'd really be wasting your time if you went through each chapter. What I suggest is to go through your related text for themes first, then once you know the kinds of themes you're working with, then should you go onto analysing 'The Art of Travel'.
Forming your own analyses is crucial in composing strong responses, as the arguments you synthesise yourself are the ones you're most familiar with, and most effective in using.
I actually did manage to find some notes on 'The Art of Travel'. I hope the following helps.
Review of ‘The Art of Travel’ by Hamish Hamilton
- “At the end of his own course in travel, de Botton tests out his newly acquired skills with a walk in Hammersmith. He finds himself noticing all sorts of things afresh: people in the street, people in restaurants, buildings.”
- “The trouble with The Art of Travel is that he clearly does not have the same enthusiasm for travel.”
- “When he goes out for a walk in the Lake District, and it trains, he is struck briefly by the beauty of some trees, he presents it as some sort of an esoteric experiment (forgetting that a good deal of Britain speeds every weekend this way).”
- “It is not in this self-deprecating way that he does not raise good questions – the tyranny of guidebooks, the dullness of great sights, our acquisitiveness reaction to exotic splendours, all these are part of the traveller’s affliction. His prescriptions are unarguable: remain conscious, remain aware, nature and the sublime can help correct our psychological imbalances. His ability to draw quick pen portraits of his chosen writers and painters is impressive, his command of their work masterful.”
- “He does omit of one abroad’s most fulfilling aspects - people. His is a solipsistic quest and he suggests turning to the paintings of Van Gogh if Provence looks a little grey rather than spending time with a group of strangers in a cafe. Give me five minutes of a man’s life over all books in the world, said Borges – a lesson as relevant for travellers as for pallid bookies.”
- “Apart from his own passionless attitude to travel, the problem for de Botton lies in the diversity of his subject.
- “Forced into generalisations, his aphoristic style tends towards to trite...”
‘Book Review: The Art of Travel’
- “The book is not a guide telling us how or where to travel, but an examination of the role of travel, broadly understood, in the lives and work of a few eminent artists and writers. While de Botton does not provide full biographies, he provides examples of their insights, using their work and experiences as a background. At points, he inserts his own travelling experience yet it is less of a memoir than it is a commentary on exploration.”
- “While others’ experiences are the focus of the book, the author writes in a style that is accessible to common reality.”
‘Narratives of Travel and the travelling Concept of Narrative: Genre Blending and the Art of Transformation’ by Fiona J Doloughan
- “... the author himself is conscious of wanting to mix modes and play with conventions in his search for an alternative essayistic paradigm.”
- “It is also worth mentioning that de Botton has himself crossed linguistic, cultural and disciplinary borders. Born in Switzerland in 1969, he spent the first 12 years of his life speaking French before switching to English. He studied history at Cambridge and has taught philosophy at Birkbeck. He has published three works of fiction and four of non-fiction as well as having presented two television series to accompany two of his books.”
- “In an interview on The Art of Travel published on the web, de Botton indicates his desire to “write about the influence of places on our psychology”; to write about beauty, “why we want it, what it does to us”. He also expresses the wish to “not just assert things about beauty, but try to show then as well.” He is aware of attempting a “new descriptive kind of writing”; in the same interview in connection with his novels, he mentions his “taste for reflection on experience” influenced by his European perspective on life and by the readings of Montaigne, Stendhal, Flaubert and Proust. On his web site, de Botton proposes the view that “a book should in some way help us to live” and indicates his commitment to “combining novelistic descriptions with more abstract discussion”.”
- “In other words, de Botton is conscious of working with and against generic conventions to produce a type of writing that will mix “intimate experiences and more abstract reflections”; blend images, both literal and metaphoric, of the aesthetic endeavours and travel experiences of major writers and artists with his own meditations on and experiences of travel; and produce a work that is part travel guide, part guide to living.”
- “De Botton relates a series of journeyes taken by himself ... placing them in the context of journeys (both real and imagined) taken by others (writers, visual artists, and philosophers) before him. In this way, he creates a layering of experience, linking individual episodic tales of travel with previous narratives of travel and reflections on the art of travel. In addition, he presents a multimodal text consisting of both visual and verbal representations and mixes photographs, some of which have been taken by himself, with reproductions of paintings and drawings.”
- “The author, de Botton is also a character in the story, at once individualised (e.g. arguing with his companion on Barbados), and yet ‘standing in’ for all those who journey in search of happiness, pleasure, beauty, or a break from routine. Other ‘characters’ include writers, artists and philosophers who guide de Botton’s travels and mediate his perceptions of the places he visits.”
- “I would also suggest that by the book’s end, we, as readers, are left with a sense in which we have arrived at some kind of resolution or synthesis; having journeyed vicariously to a number of locations with a series of guides and focussed recurrently on the psychology and mechanics of travel, we have, by journey’s end, reached an understanding of the place of travel not only in the lives of the various protagonists presented in the course of the narrative but by extension of the place of travel in the Western psyche and Western culture more generally.”
- “... the form of the book, by which I mean to refer to its textual shape and structure, as opposed to what the book is about (its content and themes), is motivated by an explicit desire on the part of de Botton to do several jobs at once: by blending the personal and the philosophic, to interrogate received ideas and to provide a kind of practical toolkit for the problems of everyday life. To accommodate such wide-ranging aims, de Botton draws on a European textual tradition (e.g. the essays of Montaigne, and the aesthetic prose of a Flaubert or a Proust) and reinvents it to suit present-day needs. In the context of travel, this means understanding the mechanics of travel, the psychology of travel, and reflecting on cultures of travel as they have changed over time.”
- “... de Botton’s method involves intercalating different but complementary story-lines...”
- “Simultaneously, he consciously disrupts the narrative flow by inserting into it other storylines which need to be pieced together and which provide a kind of counterpoint to the story framing the chapter in question. This juxtaposition of short, thematically-interconnected, narrative blocks serve to disrupt temporal sequence, thereby creating a kind of spatial extension. This (conceptual or metaphoric) spatial extension is reinforced by the presence of (real) images which invite the reader to suspend or ‘step out of’ the on-going narrative and ‘take in’ the visual representations chosen to give another, complementary, mediated cultural perspective on travel.”
- “This is a book about travel; it is also the story behind our desire to travel. Representations of travel constitute the material which gives rise to reflections on travel. The level of commentary and analysis outweigh the level of story.”
- “De Botton’s interest lies in taking available cultural and linguistic resources and re-working them to suit his particular purposes: to write a book focusing on the whys and wherefores of travel as articulated in a selection of verbal and visual texts of culture and personal import.”