In Waterstone’s with half an hour to kill the other day, I browsed in Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel. I was enthralled by the vast tracts of quotation from the likes of Flaubert, Wordsworth and Ruskin. I came away moderately keen to read the book, and greatly wanting to read Flaubert. Of the true de Botton I as yet know little.
Searching on the Net, I find an interview with de Botton on a site called UK+CH. This is apparently devoted to things Anglo-Swiss, such as the philosopher currently under notice, and the interview takes a single-minded approach:
When you were writing the book, did you ever flirt with the idea of adding a Swiss destination?
Do you object to the label Swiss writer?
What do you think about Switzerland?
What sort of idea do you think that people in Britain have about Switzerland?
You feel that if UK+CH pulled off a real scoop, like netting Osama bin Laden, or an extraterrestrial, or Elvis, they’d ask what fond memories Switzerland held for them, and nothing else.
http://www.alaindebotton.com might seem to be more promising for those in search of de Botton, but this site proves to be a cenotaph. Some agent has set it up on his behalf, and it consists of blurbs and reviews of his books, and his public engagements. These do not include any mention of the philosophical traveller visiting his own site.