Alain de Botton
Biografie van Alain de Botton
Philosophy of everyday life and authority on Proust
He is a writer of essayistic books, which refer both to his own experiences and ideas - and those of artists, philosophers and thinkers. It's a style of writing that has been termed a 'philosophy of everyday life.'
His first book, 'Essays in Love' [titled 'On Love' in the US], minutely analysed the process of falling in and out of love. The style of the book was unusual, because it mixed elements of a novel together with reflections and analyses normally found in a piece of non-fiction. It's a book of which many readers are still fondest.
It was with 'How Proust can change your Life' that de Botton's work reached an international audience. The book was a particular success in the United States, where the mixture of an ironic 'self-help' envelope and an analysis of one of the most revered but unread books in the Western canon struck a chord. It was followed by 'The Consolations of Philosophy', to which it was in many ways an accompaniment. Though sometimes described as works of popularisation, these two books were at heart attempts to develop original ideas (about, for example, friendship, art, envy, desire and inadequacy) with the help of the thoughts from other thinkers. This approach would have been familiar to writers like Seneca or Montaigne, disappearing only with the growing professionalization of scholarship in the 19th century.
De Botton then returned to a more lyrical, personal style of writing. In 'The Art of Travel', he looked at themes in the psychology of travel: how we imagine places before we have seen them, how we remember beautiful things, what happens to us when we look at deserts, or stay in hotels or go to the countryside. In 'Status Anxiety', he examined an almost universal anxiety that is rarely mentioned directly: the anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser.
De Botton's latest book, The 'Architecture of Happiness', discusses questions of beauty and ugliness in architecture. Much of the book was written at de Botton's home in West London, just near Shepherd's Bush roundabout, one of the uglier man-made places, which nevertheless provided helpful examples of how important it is to get architecture right.
Aside from writing, de Botton has been involved in making a number of television documentaries - and now helps to run a production company, Seneca Productions.
He has also just helped to launch a miniature 'university' called The School of Life - which emulates the spirit of enquiry and playfulness found in his books.
- Philosophy of everyday life
- The process of love
- The Consolations of Philosophy
- The psychology of travel
- Architecture (of Happiness)
Foto's van Alain de Botton
Boeken van Alain de Botton
Title:Essays In LoveAuthor:Alain De BottonPublisher:Pan MacmillanBook:Paperback,224 pagina'sISBN:978-03-304-4078-3
'Essays in Love' is a novel about two young people, who meet on an airplane between London and Paris and rapidly fall in love. The structure of the story isn’t unusual, but what lends the book its interest is the extraordinary depth with which the emotions involved in the relationship are analysed. Love comes under the philosophical microscope. An entire chapter is devoted to the nuances and subtexts of an initial date. Another chapter mulls over the question of how and when to say "I love you". There’s an essay on how uncomfortable it can be to disagree with a lover’s taste in shoes and a lengthy discussion about the role of guilt in love.
The book is an intriguing blend of novel and non-fiction. As in a novel, there are characters and realistic settings, but these are blended in with a host of more abstract ideas. The book has attracted a particular following among those who have recently fallen in love - or come out of a relationship.
Title:How Proust Can Change Your LifeAuthor:Alain De BottonPublisher:Pan MacmillanBook:Paperback, 224 pagina'sISBN:978-03-303-5491-2
The starting point of 'How Proust can change your Life' is that a great novel can be nothing less than life-transforming. This is an unusual claim: our education system, while stressing that novels are highly worthwhile, rarely investigates why this is so. 'How Proust can change your Life' takes Marcel Proust's 'In Search of Lost Time' as the basis for a sustained investigation into the power and significance of literature. Proust’s novel, almost a byword for obscurity and irrelevance, emerges as an invaluable source of insight into the workings of love, society, art and the meaning of existence.
The book reveals Proust's thoughts on how to revive a relationship, choose a good doctor, enjoy a holiday, make friends and respond to insult. A vivid portrait of the eccentric yet deeply sympathetic author is built up out of extracts from his letters, essays and fiction and is combined with a commentary on the power of literature to change our lives. A self-help book like few others.
Title:The Consolations Of PhilosophySubtitle:The Battle for the CodeAuthor:Alain de BottonPublisher:Penguin Books LtdBook:Paperback, 272 pagina'sISBN:978-01-402-7661-9
In Ancient Greece or Rome, philosophers were seen as natural authorities on the most pressing questions. However, since then, the idea of finding wisdom from philosophy has come to seem bizarre. Enter a university department today and ask to study wisdom, and you will politely but firmly be shown the door. The Consolations of Philosophy sets out to refute the notion that good philosophy must be irrelevant and gathers together six great philosophers who were convinced of the power of philosophical insight to work a practical effect on our lives.
Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche are read for the light their work can shine on certain great universal problems, among them, unpopularity, poverty, inadequacy, lovelessness and timidity. The book amounts to a guide to wisdom - as well as to the practical utility of philosophy.
Title:The Art Of TravelAuthor:Alain de BottonPublisher:Penguin Books LtdBook:Paperback, 272 pagina'sISBN:978-01-402-7662-6
Few things are as exciting as the idea of travelling somewhere else. But the reality of travel seldom matches our daydreams. The tragi-comic disappointments are well-known: the disorientation, the mid-afternoon despair, the lethargy before ancient ruins. And yet the reasons behind such disappointments are rarely explored.
We are inundated with advice on where to travel to; we hear little of why we should go and how we could be more fulfilled doing so. 'The Art of Travel' is a philosophical look at the ubiquitous but peculiar activity of travelling ‘for pleasure’, with thoughts on airports, landscapes, museums, holiday romances, photographs, exotic carpets and the contents of hotel mini-bars. The book mixes personal thought with insights drawn from some of the great figures of the past. Unlike existing guidebooks on travel, it dares to ask what the point of travel might be - and modestly suggests how we could learn to be less silently and guiltily miserable on our journeys.
Title:Status AnxietyAuthor:Alain de BottonPublisher:Penguin Books LtdBook:Paperback, 320 pagina'sISBN:978-01-410-1486-9
This is a book about an almost universal anxiety that rarely gets mentioned directly: an anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. This is a book about status anxiety.
We care about our status for a simple reason: because most people tend to be nice to us according to the amount of status we have (it is no coincidence that the first question we tend to be asked by new acquaintances is "What do you do?"). With the help of philosophers, artists and writers, the book examines the origins of status anxiety (ranging from the consequences of the French Revolution to our secret dismay at the success of our friends), before revealing ingenious ways in which people have learnt to overcome their worries in their search for happiness. It aims not only to be entertaining, but wise and helpful as well.
Title:Architecture Of HappinessAuthor:Alain de BottonPublisher:PenguinBook:Paperback, 280 pagina'sISBN:978-01-410-1500-2
One of the great, but often unmentioned, causes of both happiness and misery is the quality of our environment: the kind of walls, chairs, buildings and streets we’re surrounded by.
And yet a concern for architecture and design is too often described as frivolous, even self-indulgent. 'The Architecture of Happiness' starts from the idea that where we are heavily influences who we can be - and argues that it is architecture’s task to stand as an eloquent reminder of our full potential.
Whereas many architects are wary of openly discussing the word beauty, the book has at its centre the large and naïve question: "What is a beautiful building?" It amounts to a tour through the philosophy and psychology of architecture, which aims to change the way we think about our homes, streets and ourselves.
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Publicaties van Alain de Botton
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Alain de Botton An introduction to proust
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