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libri, guide,
letteratura di viaggio

16/06/2024 23:17:57

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L'arte di viaggiare

De Botton Alain


Editeur - Casa editrice

Guanda

varie
-



Città - Town - Ville

Parma

Anno - Date de Parution

2002

Pagine - Pages

254

Titolo originale

The Art of Travel

Lingua originale

Lingua - language - langue

italiano

Edizione - Collana

Biblioteca della Fenice


L'arte di viaggiare L'arte di viaggiare  

Possono scrittori, artisti e filosofi rivelarsi ottimi compagni di viaggio?
Alain de Botton non ha dubbi e affida a guide illustri del passato il compito di scandire le sue partenze e i suoi ritorni, le grandi aspettative così come le piccole ma cocenti delusioni di cui ciascun viaggio è costellato. Partenze, quindi, e poi speranze e curiosità, paesaggi esotici, evocazioni artistiche e ritorni.
Ma più di ognuna di queste scansioni e di questi viaggi, conta per Alain de Botton lo sguardo stesso del viaggiatore, il suo desiderio di "vedere davvero".

«L’arte di viaggiare pone una serie di interrogativi il cui studio potrebbe modestamente contribuire alla comprensione di ciò che i filosofi greci indicavano con la bella espressione eudaimonia, ovvero felicità»: ecco la frase, riportata tra le prime righe del saggio di Alain de Botton, che rappresenta il fulcro ispiratore del suo nuovo libro.
Con la leggerezza e l’affabilità che sempre contraddistinguono il suo stile, l’autore di Le consolazioni della filosofia realizza un manuale prezioso per riscoprire il fascino del viaggio e di ciò che lo circonda. Aspettativa, luoghi, mezzi di trasporto, curiosità, arte, sono queste gli elementi fondamentali di una riflessione che si articola in cinque fondamentali tappe del pensiero: partenza, motivazioni, paesaggio, arte e ritorno. Ognuna di queste è affrontata da de Botton con l’aiuto di una guida particolare che conduce alla scoperta di spazi reali e di luoghi dello spirito e della mente.
In compagnia di Huysmans e del suo romanzo Controcorrente, l’autore affronta il tema di aspettative e delusioni immancabilmente legate al viaggiare; con la poesia di Baudelair e i quadri di Hopper coglie la forza evocativa dei luoghi di transito e dei mezzi di trasporto; grazie agli sguardi di Flaubert e di Humboldt scopre l’affascinante urbanistica di Amsterdam e la bellezza di Madrid. I versi di Wordswoth impregnati dall’aura di pacata serenità della campagna inglese sono invece i veicoli per ragionare di pace interiore, mentre le descrizione dei sublimi deserti del Sinai nel biblico libro di Giobbe evocano una profonda meditazione sulla fragilità umana. Mescolando l’apparente banalità del quotidiano alle intuizioni di questi ed altri grandi artisti, scrittori e pensatori di ogni tempo, il libro di Alain de Botton non solo ci invita a riscoprire la bellezza del viaggio ma ci aiuta anche a cogliere la bellezza dei luoghi consueti e familiari, spesso invisibile ai nostri occhi distratti.

 

Consulta anche: La pagina di Alain de Botton

Recensione in altra lingua (English):

Colin Thubron in The Times, 15th May 2002

A trip round the world looking for home

Alain de Botton knows a traveller's sense of displacement, but also that the real trouble is in himself, says Colin Thubron

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. The questions it attempts to answer are not about social or ecological impact. Rather they are: What can explain our love of a particular place? How can we avoid the feelings of loss when we leave it? What is the psychic significance of landscape? Why does movement induce thought? If there is a ghost presiding over The Art of Travel, it is not that of Marco Polo, but of Marcel Proust.

Each of the book’s nine essays comprises the author’s experience linked to the thoughts of a past traveller (or antitraveller). So the chapters unfold through Amsterdam, Provence, Sinai, Madrid, or the Lake District, where men (they are all men) as various as Job, Baudelaire, Huysmans, Edward Hopper, Flaubert and von Humboldt induct us into diverse aspects of journeying.

In Barbados, for instance, de Botton — inspired by a stay-at-home character in one of Huysmans’s novels — contrasts the anticipation of travel with its reality, exploring (with some exasperation) how the distractions of minute-by-minute consciousness exclude the seamless peace suggested by the tourist brochure. Experience cannot be pure. Anticipation, like memory, is a state of simplification and omission.

On this interplay of past and present journeys — his own and others’ — the author hangs ideas on restlessnes, illusion, solitude. His own travels are less engagements with the Other than with the self. So a familiar nostalgia creeps in. Should he (or we) be somewhere other than we are? “People are not always of the country in which they are born,” wrote Gautier, “and, when you are prey to such a condition, you seek everywhere for your own country.”

De Botton’s chosen exemplar for this malaise is Flaubert. In 1849 the novelist fled bourgeois France for the exoticism of Egypt, and never lost his fascination for the country. “My native country is for me the country that I love,” he wrote, “that is, the one that makes me dream, that makes me feel well. I am as much Chinese as French, and I don’t rejoice about our victories over the Arabs because I am saddened by their defeats. I love those harsh, enduring, hardy people, the last of the primitives, who at midday, lie down in the shade under the bellies of their camels, and while smoking their chibouks, poke fun at our good civilisation, which quivers with rage about it . . .”

De Botton understands this sense of displacement, but he recognises, too, that the real trouble may lie in the country of the self. He is not himself a happy traveller. He arrives grudgingly, perhaps for some conference; he oversleeps, is too shy, hopes to go home. The living jumble of a city is sometimes too much for him; he is scared to go into downtown Madrid restaurants. His only journey beyond Europe is made within the safety of a group.

The Art of Travel is pervaded by melancholy — by travel less as engagement than as solace. But it is an elegant and subtle work, unlike any other. Its delicate intelligence rarely falters. De Botton is a white mouse of sensitivity. Tiny deviations from his familiar world — the modesty of a doorway in Amsterdam, for instance — excite him for the depth of their cultural implications. On a planet apparently homogenised, they are the uppermost, visible layer above a buried history of huge difference.

“Why be seduced by something as small as a front door in another country? Why fall in love with a place because it has trams and the people seldom have curtains in their homes? However absurd the intense reactions provoked by such small (and mute) foreign elements may seem, the pattern is at least familiar from personal life. There too we may find ourselves anchoring emotions of love to the way a person butters bread or turning against them because of their taste in shoes. To condemn ourselves for these minute concerns is to ignore how rich in meaning details may be.”

What interests him, in the end, is quality of attention. Habituation, he repeats, makes us blind. An attentive eye of mind can bring to life things previously ignored, as Wordsworth’s percipience helped to alert a whole nation to the more intricate beauties of nature. (In an essay on Van Gogh, de Botton uncharacteristically labours this.) So the aesthetic sense is malleable, even teachable. It may also, for de Botton, be overwhelming, and he writes feelingly about the desire to possess the beauty of a place. The solution to this desire is not the camera, he (and another mentor, Ruskin) concede, but the sketchbook. Drawing is the discipline for sharpening and defining, for understanding what we have loved. And de Botton is nothing if not a visual traveller. Indeed he seems to treat travel as a series of pictures. The people of his countries do not speak. Objective curiosity is less important to him than psychological enrichment.

One of the balms of travel is that old Romantic one: the contemplation of nature. It offers a world separate from, and indifferent to, our own — and there is something cleansing about this. “There are concerns that seem indecent in the company of a cliff,” he writes, “others to which cliffs naturally lend their assistance, their size teaching us to respect with good grace and an awed humility all that surpasses us. It is of course still possible to feel envy for a colleague before a mighty cataract. It is just, if the Wordsworthian message is to be believed, a little more unlikely . . .”

Tellingly he finds poetry in places of transience — a hotel lobby, the roadside café — places which offer the setting for an alternative, more flexible, self. The paintings of Edward Hopper — the American illuminator of the apparently commonplace and anonymous — provide him with a tabula rasa for his own imagination, and the complicity he feels for the isolated and fugitive. The discovery of another self is a recurring theme, and it will not happen — he feels — at home. There “the furniture insists we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are”.

All in all, it would be futile to search in this beguiling book for the robuster arts of travel. The dynamic, changing journey which — for its own sake — may fascinate and engulf the traveller is alien to de Botton. Such involvement means the loss of self-consciousness, and his subject is self-knowledge.

At the same time he reminds us that to the sensitive eye the most similiar countries are alive with differences. His real hero, I suspect, is not the explorer von Humboldt, but the Frenchman Xavier de Maistre, who wrote two books about travelling around his own room one night, in pink and blue pyjamas. His was an experiment in replacing the clichés of seeing by the illumination of looking. It was only a matter of cleansing the eyes.


Colin Thubron’s new novel, To the Last City, will be published by Chatto & Windus in July

The Art of Travel
Alain de Botton Hamish Hamilton, 272pp, £14.99
ISBN 0241140102


Consulta anche: La pagina di Alain de Botton