Alain de Botton  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Alain de Botton, (born 20 December 1969 in Zurich, Switzerland) is a writer and television producer who lives in London and aims to make philosophy relevant to everyday life.



De Botton has written essayistic books, which refer both to his own experiences and ideas interwoven with those of artists, philosophers, and thinkers. It is a style of writing that has been referred to as a "philosophy of everyday life." His books are published in 20 languages.

In 1993, his first novel, Essays in Love (titled On Love in the US), analyzed the process of falling in and out of love. The style of the book was unusual, because it mixed elements of a novel together with reflections and analyzes normally found in a piece of non-fiction.

He didn't, however, receive world-wide recognition until after the publication of his first non-fiction work, How Proust Can Change Your Life, in 1997. The book was based on the life and works of Marcel Proust. It is a mixture of a "self-help" envelope within which lies an ironically shallow response to one of the most revered but unread books in the Western canon. It was a bestseller in the US and UK.

It was followed by The Consolations of Philosophy. Though sometimes described as works of popularisation, these two books were attempts to develop original ideas about friendship, art, envy, desire, and inadequacy for example, with the help of thoughts of other thinkers. The title of this book is a reference to Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, in which philosophy appears as an allegorical figure to Boethius to offer him consolation before he faces his impending execution. In The Consolations of Philosophy, de Botton attempts to demonstrate how the teachings of philosophers such as Epicurus, Montaigne, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Seneca, and Socrates can be applied to modern everyday woes, such as unpopularity, feelings of inadequacy, financial worries, broken hearts, and the general problem of suffering. The book has been both praised and criticized for its therapeutic approach to philosophy.

De Botton then returned to a more lyrical, personal style of writing. In The Art of Travel, he looked at themes in the psychology of travel: how we imagine places before we see them, how we remember beautiful things, what happens to us when we look at deserts, or stay in hotels, or go to the countryside.

In Status Anxiety, he examined an almost universal anxiety that is rarely mentioned directly: the anxiety about what others think of us; about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser.

De Botton's latest book, The Architecture of Happiness, discusses the nature of beauty in architecture, and how it is related to the well-being and general contentment of the individual and society. He describes how architecture affects us every day, even though we rarely pay particular attention to it. Also, a good portion of the book discusses how human personality traits are reflected in architecture.

He writes regular columns for several English newspapers, including The Independent (on Sundays). He also travels extensively to lecture on his works.



TV series


  • How Proust Can Change Your Life
  • Philosophy: A Guide To Happiness (from "The Consolations of Philosophy")
  • The Art of Travel
  • Status Anxiety
  • The Perfect Home (from The Architecture of Happiness)


"If you had to extract A Good Idea from Alain de Botton, it would be that literature and philosophy can offer ordinary people a richer, more complete understanding of their own experience. This has not been a fashionable line for a long time, which helps to account for the freshness of How Proust Can Change Your Life" - Robert Hanks, The Independent (3/4/2000)

"There's an easy charm to de Botton's writing, pleasure to be had in its intellectual order and civilized tidiness." - Melanie McGrath, Evening Standard (13/5/2002)

"All de Botton's books, fiction and non- fiction, deal with how thought and specifically philosophy might help us deal better with the challenges of quotidian life -- returning philosophy to its simple, sound origins." - Annette Kobak, Times Literary Supplement (31/5/2002)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Alain de Botton" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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