Reviews for Travels With Epicurus : A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life

Booklist Reviews 2012 September #2
Klein (Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar, 2008, among others) returned to the Greek island of Hydra at age 73. His return had a new and specific purpose: "I want to figure out the most satisfying way to live this stage of my life." Prior experience with the island led to conclude that the "old folks of Hydra have always struck me as uncommonly content with their stage in life." But just observing and absorbing what the people had to show and tell him didn't seem like quite enough. To augment his on-site learning, he took with him a stack of philosophy books by ancient Greeks as well as some modern writers. It's an interesting formula, resulting in a lovely little book with both heart and punch, an argument against the "forever young" syndrome so prevalent in contemporary American society. His contemplative time spent observing the old men of Hydra while reading his small library of the great thinkers led him to an "evolving philosophy of a good and authentic old age." Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #1
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. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #1

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.)

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