The Art of Travel

Charles Baudelaire  Character Analysis

The famous 19th-century French poet Charles Baudelaire, whom de Botton profiles in his second essay, grew up as something of a misfit in French society: he did not get along with his family, schoolmates, or peers in the aristocracy. He always dreamed of traveling and loved spending time around ships, which he saw as elegant marvels of human ingenuity, in part because their departures reflected the promise of a better life elsewhere. He once left on a trip to India but forced the ship’s captain to turn around halfway after they reached Mauritius and Baudelaire realized he was just as miserable as he used to be in France. He praised “poets” who sought fulfillment outside of ordinary society, and his ambivalent relationship to traveling reflects the disappointment of realizing that foreign places will not relieve one of one’s fundamental problems, as well as the thrill that de Botton shares in anticipating and imagining travel.

Charles Baudelaire  Quotes in The Art of Travel

The The Art of Travel quotes below are all either spoken by Charles Baudelaire  or refer to Charles Baudelaire . 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 2 Quotes

“Life is a hospital in which every patient is obsessed with changing beds: this one wants to suffer in front of the radiator, and that one thinks he’d get better if he was by the window.”

Related Characters: Charles Baudelaire  (speaker), Alain de Botton
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
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The twenty-four-hour diner, the station waiting room and the motel are sanctuaries for those who have, for noble reasons, failed to find a home in the ordinary world—those whom Baudelaire might have dignified with the honorific poets.

Related Characters: Alain de Botton (speaker), Charles Baudelaire , Edward Hopper
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
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Charles Baudelaire  Character Timeline in The Art of Travel

The timeline below shows where the character Charles Baudelaire  appears in The Art of Travel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: On Traveling Places
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
From his childhood onwards, de Botton writes, the 19th-century French poet Charles Baudelaire never quite fit into any social environment: he hated his family, got expelled from “a... (full context)
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
Art, Travel, and the Search for Happiness Theme Icon
Baudelaire’s apprehensive desire to travel appeared frequently in his poetry and writing, and he admitted that... (full context)
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
Art, Travel, and the Search for Happiness Theme Icon
Baudelaire saw travel as the distinctive mark of “poets,” people whose dissatisfaction with home led them... (full context)
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
...finds comfort in “the ceaseless landings and takeoffs of aircraft,” just as after a breakup Baudelaire used to watch ships dock and depart at a quayside, promising to “set sail for... (full context)
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
In addition to traveling places, Baudelaire also loved “machines of motion,” and especially ships, which he found a technological wonder representing... (full context)
Art, Travel, and the Search for Happiness Theme Icon
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
...to look more like mutating steam than the “horizontal ovoids” people see from the ground. Baudelaire wrote about the clouds in his poem “The Outsider,” asking, “what do you love, you... (full context)
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Art, Travel, and the Search for Happiness Theme Icon
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
Hopper actually read Baudelaire throughout his life, which de Botton finds understandable given their “shared interests in solitude, in... (full context)
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
Art, Travel, and the Search for Happiness Theme Icon
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
...corner of the world” and found herself without “a home in the ordinary world,” like Baudelaire’s “poets.” (full context)