The Consolations of Philosophy (Penguin Celebrations)

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9780141035192: The Consolations of Philosophy (Penguin Celebrations)

Alain de Botton, best-selling author of "How Proust can Change Your Life", has set six of the finest minds in the history of philosophy to work on the problems of everyday life. Here then are Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche on some of the things that bother us all; lack of money, the pain of love, inadequacy, anxiety, the fear of failure and the pressure to conform.

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Review:

Flushed with the success of How Proust Can Change Your Life, philosophical agony uncle Alain de Botton once more matches his precocious talents to addressing the anxieties of modern life with Consolations of Philosophy. Dubbed the "Naked Philosopher", de Botton's cherubic charms match his grey matter, and this book, which has already inspired a Channel 4 series, sees him continue his one-man mission to sugar the pill of learning with his brilliant mixture of wit, wisdom and whimsy. So humans have six gurus and six concerns: Socrates on unpopularity, Epicurus on lack of money, Seneca on frustrations, Montaigne on inadequacy, Schopenhauer on a broken heart and Nietzsche on the necessity of difficulties. And then there is a seventh: de Botton himself, artfully infusing others' palliative musings with souffléd epigrams of his own, and marshalling his arguments with an insouciance that belies considerable skill. De Botton was already appealing to the likes of Wittgenstein, Aristotle and Montaigne for romantic guidance in his novels, Kiss and Tell, Essays in Love and The Romantic Movement, and with How Proust Can Change Your Life, he finally dropped the pretence of plot and concentrated on the digressions, albeit with a slightly eager charm. Where that book was dazzling, the glow of Consolations of Philosophy burns more deeply, displaying a more sober and polished application of his undoubted mental prowess, without losing his distinctive playfulness. He brings to the essay form something of what Milan Kundera brings to the novel and, like him, while still respecting the boundaries he oversteps, he hopscotches genres with spring heels. It is Montaigne whom de Botton most admires and, indeed, most resembles in style--he says of the 16th-century Frenchman: "in Montaigne's scheme of intelligence, what matters in a book is usefulness and appropriateness to life" and it's a recipe he himself assiduously and rewardingly follows. Jamie Oliver take note, dry crusts have rarely been made so appetising and digestible. -- David Vincent

Review:

Witty, thoughful, entertaining . . . a stylish book, which manages to make philosophy both enjoyable and relevant, at the same time providing a very sensible digest of consolations for many of our current psychological ills ( Literary Review)

Single-handedly, de Botton has taken philosophy back to its simplest and most important purpose: helping us to live our lives ( Independent)

A pleasure to read. And good writing, like good philosophy, is always a consolation (John Banville Irish Times)

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de Botton, Alain
Published by Penguin Books Ltd (2007)
ISBN 10: 0141035196 ISBN 13: 9780141035192
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Revaluation Books
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 272 pages. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk0141035196

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