The Art of Travel


Alain De Botton

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Blaise Pascal Character Analysis

A 17th-century French scientist, mathematician, theologian, and philosopher whose most famous work, Pensées (“Thoughts”), Alain de Botton frequently cites throughout The Art of Travel. Most importantly, John Ruskin’s arguments for the virtues of drawing echo Pascal’s earlier belief that people often admire paintings and other representations of real objects instead of admiring the objects themselves.

Blaise Pascal Quotes in The Art of Travel

The The Art of Travel quotes below are all either spoken by Blaise Pascal or refer to Blaise Pascal. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Art of Travel published in 2002.
Chapter 9 Quotes

“The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room”—Pascal, Pensées, 136.

Related Characters: Blaise Pascal (speaker), Alain de Botton , Xavier de Maistre
Page Number: 239
Explanation and Analysis:
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Blaise Pascal Character Timeline in The Art of Travel

The timeline below shows where the character Blaise Pascal appears in The Art of Travel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6: On the Sublime
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
...Sinai Desert from the Israeli resort town of Eilat. On the plane ride, he reads Pascal’s Pensées, including a passage where the philosopher writes: “When I consider … the small space... (full context)
Chapter 7: On Eye-Opening Art
Art, Travel, and the Search for Happiness Theme Icon
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
...enthusiastic about van Gogh and Provence’s landscape, he also thinks of a distressing quote from Pascal: “how vain painting is, exciting admiration by its resemblance to things of which we do... (full context)
Chapter 9: On Habit
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
De Botton again quotes Pascal’s Pensées: “The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to... (full context)