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Today's quote:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I've just avoided a tiring 20-hour-flight


In The Art of Travel, by contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton, the author recounts an episode from J.K. Huysman's novel Á Rebours (1884), in which the central character, the travel-phobic Duc des Esseintes, is inspired to travel to London following a morning's reading of Dickens.

Packed, suitably attired and ready to go, he awaits the next train from Paris to London. While he does so he kills some time, purchasing - and reading - Baedecker's Guide to London from an English bookshop and enjoying a drink in a wine bar frequented by English expats, before going to an English tavern where he samples a typically British meal of oxtail soup, smoked haddock, roast beef and potatoes, topped off with a few pints of ale and a piece of Stilton.

When the time comes for him to leave for London, des Esseintes changes his mind: having enjoyed the 'Englishness' of his experience to the fullest, he fears the real thing will only disappoint. He returns home, never to leave it again.

Thanks to the internet and YouTube, I've just wandered the streets of my old hometown Braunschweig. I can't imagine gaining any greater pleasure from the real thing by leaving the comforts of my armchair and so have decided to stay put.