The Art of the Wasted Day
A spirited inquiry into the lost value of leisure and daydreamThe Art of the Wasted Day is a picaresque travelogue of leisure written from a lifelong enchantment with solitude. Patricia Hampl visits the homes of historic exemplars of ease who made repose a goal, even an art form. She begins with two celebrated eighteenth-century Irish ladies who ran off to live a life of "retirement" in rural Wales. Her search then leads to Moravia to consider the monk-geneticist, Gregor Mendel, and finally to Bordeaux for Michel Montaigne—the hero of this book—who retreated from court life to sit in his chateau tower and write about whatever passed through his mind, thus inventing the personal essay.Hampl's own life winds through these pilgrimages, from childhood days lazing under a neighbor's beechnut tree, to a fascination with monastic life, and then to love—and the loss of that love which forms this book's silver thread of inquiry. Finally, a remembered journey down the Mississippi near home in an old cabin cruiser with her husband turns out, after all her international quests, to be the great adventure of her life.The real job of being human, Hampl finds, is getting lost in thought, something only leisure can provide. The Art of the Wasted Day is a compelling celebration of the purpose and appeal of letting go.

The Art of the Wasted Day Details

TitleThe Art of the Wasted Day
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 17th, 2018
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780525429647
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Travel, Writing, Essays, History

The Art of the Wasted Day Review

  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Daydreaming, something often frowned on in our busy society of list makers. To achieve, cross out the things on our lists,but where are we rushing to, where do we hope to get.? Yet, as the author points out it is by daydreaming that we can really see things, observe our surrounding. In her musing of memories past and present the author travels ,but never alone. Many authors of wise words, Woolf,Kafka, Dickens, Whitman, accompany her everywhere. Words of wisdom, her main go to Montaigne whose 3.5 Daydreaming, something often frowned on in our busy society of list makers. To achieve, cross out the things on our lists,but where are we rushing to, where do we hope to get.? Yet, as the author points out it is by daydreaming that we can really see things, observe our surrounding. In her musing of memories past and present the author travels ,but never alone. Many authors of wise words, Woolf,Kafka, Dickens, Whitman, accompany her everywhere. Words of wisdom, her main go to Montaigne whose words of quiet contemplation has accompanied her, words she used from which to gain strength.Not a linear nor easy read by any means. Her thoughts, musings, are scattered often almost dream like. Scattered as her mind wanders here and there. She loves to visit places, famous places where notable persons have lived. She actually lived for 36 years in Scott Fitgeralds grandmother's old row house. It was also the block where Jonathan Franzen opens his novel Freedom. It is also where she met her husband.There is also a heartbreaking thread of grief running through this memoir. The author is trying to come to terms with the unexpected death of her husband. When she talks about people's need to get away, she says, "Not my problem. I don't want to get away from anyone. I want someone back. But that can't happen." This is a book of quiet contemplation. Not a quick read but I found it a worthy one.ARC from Edelweiss.
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    The title almost makes it sound like a how-to manual, but it's anything but. She begins by describing how her childhood daydreaming gave way to adult self-improvement and achievement and to-do lists. After her husband died, and she had her first panic attacks, she remembered how she enjoyed a more Montaigne-inspired existence as a child, 'wasting her life to find it.'It's true it's not a linear narrative, but she states that is not her intention. "Life is not a story, a settled version. It's an The title almost makes it sound like a how-to manual, but it's anything but. She begins by describing how her childhood daydreaming gave way to adult self-improvement and achievement and to-do lists. After her husband died, and she had her first panic attacks, she remembered how she enjoyed a more Montaigne-inspired existence as a child, 'wasting her life to find it.'It's true it's not a linear narrative, but she states that is not her intention. "Life is not a story, a settled version. It's an unsorted heap of images we keep going through…that float to the surface of the mind, rise, drift--they are the makings of a life, not of a narrative." One thought or story inspires the next, she circles back around to develop her ideas as she goes. She writes beautifully, every so often there was an image I reread to fix it in my mind. She goes on a little too much about why she thinks the Ladies of Llangollen never had sex, but that was the worst flaw I found -- and her main point about them, that their fifty idyllic years together was primarily about other things, is certainly true of any long peaceful marriage.
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  • SabirSultan
    January 1, 1970
    I love Patricia Hampl's work. I have since I was a freshman in college and read her essay, "Of Memory and Imagination." And, I love the "The Art of The Wasted Day."As I was reading this book, I found myself marveling at the review blurbs on the jacket. How to sum up the worlds contained in this .. this memoir, travelogue, love letter to her deceased husband? How do you sum up something that felt infinite in a few sentences? On a surface level these essays are concerned with those noted figures t I love Patricia Hampl's work. I have since I was a freshman in college and read her essay, "Of Memory and Imagination." And, I love the "The Art of The Wasted Day."As I was reading this book, I found myself marveling at the review blurbs on the jacket. How to sum up the worlds contained in this .. this memoir, travelogue, love letter to her deceased husband? How do you sum up something that felt infinite in a few sentences? On a surface level these essays are concerned with those noted figures throughout history who have withdrawn to contemplate life. Or those who have withdrawn to live contemplative lives. But more than that, they are concerned with contemplating life. Hampl's life, Mendel's, Montaigne's, the Ladies of Llangollen's, etc. are all the subject of this book. In a masterful stroke, the form of the essay itself is drawn as the act of considering life.While these subjects seem specific and contained the writing is not. I have always identified heavily with Hampl's work. Which may seem strange as the parallels are non-existent. I am a queer, second generation immigrant, black man living in New York City. She is a straight, older white woman living in Minnesota. Yet, she is someone who writes from not inside of her life, but inside of life itself.Her writing is placed in time, in family history, in political history, in science, in books, and in research. She writes in terms of her experience of them. She writes of what it means to be living and consider your life and in that I relate. She writes of a life spent thinking about living and reading and writing and as such touches on something that transcends personal identity and keys into something universal.It should be also noted, that on a sentence level she is a master of her craft. Her writing is beautiful, lyrical, smart, and even wry at turns. The structuring of the book is thoughtful - multiple views and angles of the subject - how to reflect/the act of reflection. I cannot recommend this book enough.
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  • Paul Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Ever since I retired, I have struggled to leave behind my desire to "be productive", "useful" and "busy" and just be able to, as Blaise Pascal said, "sit Quietly in a room alone". The title of this book intrigued me as a "how to" guide to relaxing in my dotage. While the author did provide examples of successful "retirees" (Gregor Mendel, Montaigne, Whitman, Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler), they were buried in an avalanche of self indulgent philosophizing and mourning her late husband. Hampl Ever since I retired, I have struggled to leave behind my desire to "be productive", "useful" and "busy" and just be able to, as Blaise Pascal said, "sit Quietly in a room alone". The title of this book intrigued me as a "how to" guide to relaxing in my dotage. While the author did provide examples of successful "retirees" (Gregor Mendel, Montaigne, Whitman, Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler), they were buried in an avalanche of self indulgent philosophizing and mourning her late husband. Hampl is a good stylist who lost her way on this one. It just goes to show you, judging a book by its cover is a good way to waste a day.
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  • Kelsey
    January 1, 1970
    Hard to finish this one. Didn't really catch me personally, but at the same time, it was well written.
  • Lavender
    January 1, 1970
    PlaceholderI won this book via Goodreads Giveaways.
  • Carlo
    January 1, 1970
    https://theamericanscholar.org/idle-h...
  • Gloria
    January 1, 1970
    This book of observations contrasting the too busy world with the value of stepping off the treadmill is intellectual and a bit dry accordingly, but also offers plenty to ponder.The author is a well-traveled professor who grew up in the 1960s, inhaled literature, and studied music seriously. She is an introvert who loves solitude, yet keeps an intimidating to-do list going at all times. Her fascination with great thinkers takes her all over the world as she visits their habitats. Michel Montaign This book of observations contrasting the too busy world with the value of stepping off the treadmill is intellectual and a bit dry accordingly, but also offers plenty to ponder.The author is a well-traveled professor who grew up in the 1960s, inhaled literature, and studied music seriously. She is an introvert who loves solitude, yet keeps an intimidating to-do list going at all times. Her fascination with great thinkers takes her all over the world as she visits their habitats. Michel Montaigne is a special focus of her musings, a man who retreated from the world and wrote whatever was important to him at the time.Writing is clearly a focus here, but also she wonders about missed opportunities when we are too busy to see nature, have casual conversations, and to simply 'be' with another person. The section entitled "To Stay" was the most valuable in that it stresses the beauty close to home and the peace experienced in a relationship where you can be in solitude together.
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