Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life

Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life

4.5 2
by Daniel Klein
     
 

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One of the bestselling authors of Plato and a Platypus travels to Greece with a suitcase full of philosophy books, seeking the best way to achieve a fulfilling old age

 

Daniel Klein journeys to the Greek island Hydra to discover the secrets of aging happily. Drawing on the lives of his Greek friends, as well as philosophers ranging from

Overview

One of the bestselling authors of Plato and a Platypus travels to Greece with a suitcase full of philosophy books, seeking the best way to achieve a fulfilling old age

 

Daniel Klein journeys to the Greek island Hydra to discover the secrets of aging happily. Drawing on the lives of his Greek friends, as well as philosophers ranging from Epicurus to Sartre, Klein learns to appreciate old age as a distinct and extraordinarily valuable stage of life. He uncovers simple pleasures that are uniquely available late in life, as well as headier pleasures that only a mature mind can fully appreciate. A travel book, a witty and accessible meditation, and an optimistic guide to living well, Travels with Epicurus is a delightful jaunt to the Aegean and through the terrain of old age led by a droll philosopher. A perfect gift book for the holidays, this little treasure is sure to please longtime fans of Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar and garner new ones, young and old

Editorial Reviews

In a sense, Daniel Klein's philosophical musings began with a visit to a dentist's office. Confronted for the first time with the possibility of permanent denture plates, the veteran author (Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar; The History of Now) began contemplating the jarring inevitabilities of old age. To sooth his worries and strengthen himself with a little rest and recreation, he travels to the remote Greek island of Hydra. There, strengthened by the vitality of his friends and the wisdom of ancient and modern thinkers, he makes striking discoveries about growing old, life, death, dentures, and himself.

Publishers Weekly
Following a trip to his dentist, 73-year-old Klein considers his options after being advised that he needs tooth implants or a denture. Klein (Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar) opts for a sojourn to the Greek island of Hydra. Accompanied by a suitcase crammed with philosophy books, Klein contemplates the Greek philosopher Epicurus’ pivotal question. “He fundamentally wanted to know how to make the most of his one life,” writes Klein. Eschewing the “forever young” treadmill many American’s embrace, Klein explores a different path, examining the relaxed Greek lifestyle surrounding him. He laments what’s lost in the frantic rush to stay youthful: “And we have no time left for a calm and reflective appreciation of our twilight years, no deliciously long afternoons sitting with friends or listening to music or musing about the story of our lives.” The author ruminates on the benefits of freeing ourselves from the prison of everyday affairs; the pleasures of companionship in old age; battling boredom; the difference between sexual urges and sexual nostalgia; and the value of facing death blissfully. Along the way, Klein touches on the ideas of Bertrand Russell, Erik Erikson, Aristotle, and William James. Klein’s narrative is a delightful and spirited conversation, offering up the ingredients inherent to the art of living well in old age. Agent: Julia Lord. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
A late-in-life reflection and modern-day philosophical exploration of what it means to age authentically. Septuagenarian Klein (co-author: Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates, 2009) is on a personal quest to redeem the grizzled and gray-haired among us. Returning to the Greek island of Hydra, which he visited in his youth, he sought to watch and learn from a culture that, he writes, best embodies the grace of old age. Over leisurely glasses of retsina at the local tavern, he observed the "lived time" of his aged, Greek friends and lamented the contemporary Western desire to extend the prime of life beyond its course. What do we lose, he asks, when we deny our hard-earned senior citizenship and opt instead for implants, Viagra and a second career? With the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus as his guide, Klein navigates a veritable sea of great thinkers and their treatises on aging. From Aristotle to Frank Sinatra, each philosopher offers a different take on what it means to live a meaningful life in one's later years. For Epicureans, it's a life devoted to simple, enduring pleasures and free of pain, particularly the pain we incur on ourselves by pursuing certain pleasures. As it turns out, there are no specific rules to living life well or to making peace with old age, but Klein suggests that perhaps the act of asking can be "some kind of end in itself." Some readers, especially younger readers, will reply in the affirmative when Klein wonders aloud if he is simply "a befuddled old geezer barking at the moon." Others will appreciate the slow, lighthearted amble of his discourse and the wise cast of characters that inhabit his journey. Charming and accessible, this philosophical survey simply and accessibly makes academic philosophy relevant to ordinary human emotion.
From the Publisher
“An insightful meditation.” - The New York Times Book Review

“Along the way, Klein touches on the ideas of Bertrand Russell, Erik Erikson, Aristotle, and William James. Klein's narrative is a delightful and spirited conversation, offering up the ingredients inherent to the art of living well in old age.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Charming and accessible, this philosophical survey simply and accessibly makes academic philosophy relevant to ordinary human emotion.” – Kirkus Review

“Witty and wry” – Huffington Post

“A lovely little book with both heart and punch.” – Booklist

 “A charming meditation on aging. Daniel Klein takes us on a thought-provoking journey.” – The Weekly Standard Book Review

“Reading this book after a period of overwork and high stress, I was bowled over by its easy charm and hard-won wisdom. I shall be buying it in bulk as presents for my equally overburdened peers, and I suspect a few older people will enjoy it, too.” – Markus Berkmann, The Daily Mail

 “If you think philosophy is hard stuff that makes your head spin and possibly hurt, Klein is the perfect guide to deep thinking.  Being fully aware and wondering how best to spend our time are useful practices at any age, and this warm, thought-provoking book is a terrific introduction to thinking about life philosophically.” – Concord MonitorMultiple

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143121930
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/30/2012
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
544,485
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Witty and wry” – Huffington Post

Meet the Author

Daniel Klein is the coauthor (with Thomas Cathcart) of the international bestseller Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar and Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates. The author or coauthor of thirty other books, including The Half-Jewish Book, the Elvis Presley mystery series (Kill Me Tender, Blue Suede Clues), and the award-winning novel The History of Now, Klein holds a degree in philosophy from Harvard University and lives in Western Massachusetts with his wife, Freke Vuijst.

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Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How many of us have thought about how we will or should spend the later stages of our lives? Some of us already have plans and some of us are too afraid to face old age and think about it. What is the best way to spend your twilight years? I think this is an ever important question. With the increased speed at which we live our lives, the never-ending goals and materialistic mindset, growing old has changed in modern society. The author, who is seventy-three, takes the reader along on his journey to question how to best spend his years in old age. He looks back through pages of philosophy to try to find the best answer. I am not in the old age stage yet. However, this book will surely prepare you for what kind of mindset you should adopt before that time comes. It will also wake you up to the fact that you can start your search for this joy and happiness before you get there. This is not a sad story of an old man searching for meaning in his final days. It is the joyous story of a man in old age who as been brave enough to accept where is is in life and enjoy it as such. By asking these philosophical questions, he has already acheived meaning. He is not in denial that he is mortal and death will surely come, possibly in the not too distant future. On Daniel Klein's search for his philosophy on old age, he revisits many philosophers and schools of thought, such as Aristotle, Kierkegaard and Buddhism. His topics range from existential authenticity to the timeliness of spirituality. Even if you don't agree with his musings and conclusions, it will definitely get you thinking about your own philosophical ideas on old age. You might even come to some solid conclusions of your own. Put some thought into this one and enjoy!
Carl_in_Richland More than 1 year ago
Daniel Klein is well known to amateur philosophers as the co-author of the ‘Plato and a Platypus walk into a bar…’ series of books that illustrates basic philosophical problems via jokes. In ‘Travels with Epicurus’, Mr. Klein takes the reader on a trip of self-examination while spending one month on the Greek island of Hydra. Contained within his travel bags are the works of his favorite philosophers, many from ancient Greece, and in particular, the works of Epicurus. He mulls over the writings of these European writings while visiting old and long time friends on the island. The basic question addressed in this book is, how should we live our lives when we become old? Mr. Klein doesn’t mean ‘old, old’, as in dotty and incontinent (a stage at which he begins to agree with the Stoics that suicide should be an option). But ‘old’ as when the body is definitely starting to fail. In Klein’s case, this realization began when his dentist told him he would need either a set of dental implants that, after many months of uncomfortable procedures would produce a youthful looking smile or a set of false teeth that would make him look like an old man. He picked the later because, he admits, he had become ‘an old man’. The opening narrative describing his dental visits is the beginning of a very interesting commentary on the cult of the youth, and of his decision not to be part of it. Rather, he wants to live as an old man, with all the advantages such a lifestyle offers, including just slowing down to savor the remaining time just as Epicurus would recommend. But oddly, at the end of the book, he concludes that much of this way of living is actually just being mindful of the here and now. In fact, towards the end of the book (page 150) he makes the very Zen-like observation that ‘A mindful person is fully engaged in what he is presently doing…he is ever on guard against slipping into everydayness… In my old age…I may finally be able to do that. “ No Buddhist texts are cited despite this conclusion. This book is a great read for thoughtful baby boomers crossing into ‘old age’ who wonder how they can best use these last years. Even if you don’t agree with Mr. Klein’s conclusions (and they’re more complicated than can be described in a short review such as this one), you’ll find the options his considers to be thought provoking. And as one who has done much to popularize philosophy I’m sure this is what Daniel Klein would like from his readers.