If you want to be able to talk about a place, the best thing to do is stay at home.
Extensive travel and the experience of foreign cultures seem to be becoming an essential requirement for the modern citizen. However, actually visiting these places may not be the best way to discover them, as literature professor and psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard reveals. He champions the importance of 'armchair travel', arguing that being able to describe somewhere you have never been may even prove crucial to your survival should you need to lie about where you were. So within these two hundred pages, you will learn more about the world than Phileas Fogg did in eighty days.
Bayard's psychoanalysis of travel 'experience' encompasses Marco Polo's medieval China (how far did he actually go?), Kant's Königsberg (what could the famously stay-at-home philosopher who rarely ventured beyond the confines of his city know of the world?) and Chateaubriand's early modern North America (how much was invented to fit the views he already held?), and explores a host of phenomena, from lost islands and stolen marathons, to the invented worlds of cheats, murderers, lovers and adulterers.
Travelling around the world, disregarding time, geography and reality and blurring the definitions of a 'true' story, Bayard will provoke you to re-examine how you travel and how you don't, and, most importantly, how to talk about it afterwards.