|Pages/Publication Date:||288 / 2018|
The real job of being human, the author of Blue Arabesque finds, is getting lost in thought, something only leisure can provide. Patricia Hampl visits the homes of historic exemplars of ease who made repose a goal, even an art form. Discussing two 18th-century Irish ladies who ran off to live a life of "retirement" in rural Wales, Hampl's search then leads to Moravia to consider the monk-geneticist, Gregor Mendel, and finally to Bordeaux for Michel Montaigne, who retreated from court life to 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 journey down the Mississippi in an old cabin cruiser with her husband that turns out to be the great adventure of her life.