Xavier de Maistre

Xavier de Maistre

Xavier de Maistre (1763–1852) was a French military man and author. He began serving in the army at a young age. His novel, Journey Around My Room, was written while under house arrest for a duel. He lived primarily in Naples but eventually moved to St. Petersburg, where he died in 1852.

Voyage Around My Room

Nonfiction by Xavier de Maistre

Translated from the French by Stephen Sartarelli

In 1790, while serving in the Piedmontese army, the French aristocrat Xavier de Maistre (1763-1852) was punished for dueling and placed under house arrest for forty-two days. The result was a discursive, mischievous memoir, his classic Voyage Around My Room and its sequel, Nocturnal Expedition Around My Room. Admired by Nietzsche and Machado de Assis, Ossian and Susan Sontag, this classic book proves that sitting on the living-room sofa can be as fascinating as crossing the Alps or paddling up the Amazon.…
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In Borges’s story, the Aleph is a synonym for infinity, a point that contains all other points in space. Peering into it, one can see into the far corners of the universe and beyond. Reading de Maistre’s Voyage is a similarly vertiginous experience: one can visualize the spirit of the counter-Enlightenment as it vies for a trajectory of its own among those occupied by the bêtes and the offspring of science. The cloistered Count turns into something Borges would have recognized from his own encounters with silence: a kind of Aleph, however unworthy — a door to the infinite.

Los Angeles Review of Books

De Maistre pioneered a mode of travel that was to make his name: room travel. Dressed in pink-and-blue pajamas, satisfied within the confines of his own bedroom, Xavier de Maistre was gently nudging us to try, before taking off for distant hemispheres, to notice what we have already seen.

—Alain de Botton

The late eighteenth century is when modernity (more exactly, the modernities) began. Sterne, Diderot, Rousseau…among the effortlessly brilliant writers of that incandescent era, there still remains Xavier de Maistre to discover or rediscover.

—Susan Sontag
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