The Art of Travel

Xavier de Maistre Character Analysis

A 19th-century French aristocrat, military man, and writer whose book Journey around My Bedroom Alain de Botton analyzes in his final essay. De Maistre did travel extensively for his military duties, but de Botton thinks that Journey around My Bedroom offers a promising alternative theory of travel: it is more about a traveling mind-set than a destination, and people can undertake satisfying voyages in the places they already call home. While “traveling” in his pajamas, de Maistre notes the beauty of his furniture before losing focus and daydreaming about his dog and crush; de Botton follows his lead by taking a walk around his neighborhood of Hammersmith with an eye to the area’s beauty rather than simply an immediate practical goal (usually, getting to the train station).

Xavier de Maistre Quotes in The Art of Travel

The The Art of Travel quotes below are all either spoken by Xavier de Maistre or refer to Xavier de Maistre. 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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In an autobiographical note written in 1801 in South America, Alexander von Humboldt specified his motive for traveling: “I was spurred on by an uncertain longing to be transported from a boring daily life to a marvellous world.” It was this very dichotomy, “boring daily life” pitted against “marvellous world,” that de Maistre had tried to redraw with greater subtlety.

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Page Number: 248
Explanation and Analysis:
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Xavier de Maistre Character Timeline in The Art of Travel

The timeline below shows where the character Xavier de Maistre appears in The Art of Travel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9: On Habit
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
...years before Alexander von Humboldt set out for South America in 1799, the French writer Xavier de Maistre published a book about a Journey around My Bedroom. In 1798, he took a second... (full context)
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
Introducing Journey around My Bedroom, de Maistre ’s brother Joseph wrote that Xavier did not mean to disparage the great travelers of... (full context)
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
De Botton declares that de Maistre ’s trip “did not get very far.” De Maistre changes into his pyjamas and travels... (full context)
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
But de Botton sees de Maistre ’s book as founded on the “profound and suggestive insight” that travel’s mind-set often matters... (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
...they have discovered everything at home and become blind to everything new that happens there; de Maistre ’s goal was to “shake us from our passivity.” In his second book, he admires... (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
Xavier de Maistre was “also a great traveller in the classic sense”—he fought military campaigns in Italy and... (full context)
The Familiar and the Foreign Theme Icon
Expectations vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Receptive Self Theme Icon
After reading de Maistre , Nietzsche remarked that “some people know how to manage their experiences” and learn to... (full context)