The age old questions

TRAVELS WITH EPICURUS: MEDITATIONS FROM A GREEK ISLAND ON THE PLEASURES OF OLD AGE BY DANIEL KLEIN

EPICURUS

This is a charming, escapist travelogue memoir by best-selling author Daniel Klein. We follow him as he packs a suitcase full of books by his favoured philosophers (Epicurus, Sartre) and travels to the Greek Island of Hydra to contemplate life’s big questions. Hanging out with the local old folk and immersing himself in ancient philosophies, and even the lyrics of Frank Sinatra, Klein tries to figure out whether it is better to try to remain forever young or to grow old authentically.

This is a guide to living well in old age for the modern age. At a time when the world is youth-obsessed and where many try to delay the arrival of old age by remaining active and setting goals, this books offers a welcome alternative. Epicurus believed that old age was the pinnacle of life, the best it gets, once we free ourselves from the prison of everyday affairs. In going from forever young to old old age, Klein, like Epicurus, believes that we miss out on the chance to be a fulfilled old person “docked in the harbour, having safeguarded his true happiness.”

As Klein adds: “Old people do not have to fret about their next move because the Chess game is over. They are free to think about any damned thing they choose.” Sitting, thinking, meditating and just being idle is advocated throughout this lovely book.

Travels with Epicurus explores the age-old, old age issues of companionship, sex, religion, rage, facing death and the importance of play. The philosophies on which prove how far we are removed from living and enjoying our lives in each stage of them.

This is a neat introduction to the ancient Greek philosophers for novices like me and I’m certainly keen to read more. Klein’s pursuit of the philosophical is because “the unexamined life doesn’t quite cut it for him.” I can definitely identify with that and when I’m in my golden years I hope to be sat on a Greek island feeling free to say “I’m not in a hurry today, I am a contentedly dawdling old man (woman).”

The nice thing about this book is that the author has a wry humour to go with his philosophical outlook. Highly recommended to all who like to sit and have a good old think about things.

SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM RATING: 9/10

Notes on the author: Daniel Klein

  • Klein was born in America in 1939
  • He is a writer of fiction, non fiction, thrillers, mysteries, humour and plays
  • He is best known for his book Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

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