Monday, February 06, 2006

BOOKS: A Journey Around My Room

A Journey Around My Room and a Nocturnal Expedition Around My Room
by Xavier De Maistre
(Hesperus Classics S.)

From the foreword by Alain de Botton:
In the spring of 1790, a twenty seven year old Frenchman, Xavier de Maistre, undertook a journey around his bedroom, later entitling the account of what he had seen "A Journey around my Room". Gratified by his experiences, in 1798, de Maistre undertook a second journey. This time, he travelled by night and ventured out as far as the window ledge, later entitling his account "A Nocturnal Expedition around my Room".

Xavier de Maistre was born in 1763 in the picturesque town of Chambéry at the foot of the French Alps. He was of an intense, romantic nature, was fond of reading, especially Montaigne, Pascal and Rousseau and of paintings, especially Dutch and French domestic scenes. At the age of 23, de Maistre became fascinated by aeronautics. Etienne Montgolfier had, three years before, achieved international renown by constructing a balloon that flew for eight minutes above the royal palace at Versailles, bearing as passengers a sheep called Montauciel (Climb-to-the-sky), a duck and a rooster. De Maistre and a friend constructed a pair of giant wings out of paper and wire and planned to fly to America. They did not succeed. Two years later de Maistre secured himself a place in a hot air balloon and spent a few moments floating above Chambéry before the machine crashed into a pine forest.

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