Robert Dessaix and Nicholas Brown in conversation


Robert Dessaix will be in conversation with Nicholas Brown to discuss his new book, The Pleasures of Leisure, a guide to work and play in the twenty-first century. It emphasises that the importance of making time for leisure is more vital than ever. Yet so many of us lack a talent for it. We are working longer hours, consuming more than ever before; technology erodes the work-life balance further; increasingly, people feel that only work gives existence meaning. In a world where time is money, what is the value of walking without purpose, socialising without networking, nesting when we could be on our laptops?

Robert Dessaix argues, in his thoughtful and witty book, how taking leisure seriously gives us back our freedom - to enjoy life, to revel in it, in fact; to deepen our sense of who we are as human beings. He explains how we can reclaim our right to 'rest well', and to loaf, groom, nest and play, as he looks at leisure from many angles: reading, walking, travelling, learning languages, taking siestas and simply doing nothing. The result is a lively and engaging conversation that reminds us that at leisure we are at our most intensely and pleasurably human.

Robert Dessaix is well known for his fiction, autobiography and media presentations . From 1985 to 1995, he presented the weekly Books and Writing program on ABC Radio National. In more recent years he has also presented radio series on Australian public intellectuals and great travellers in history, as well as regular programs on language.

His best-known books, all translated into several European languages, are his autobiography A Mother's Disgrace; the novels Night Letters and Corfu and the travel memoirs Twilight of Love and Arabesques. In 2012 he published the collection of originally spoken pieces As I Was Saying, and in 2014 the meditation What Days Are For. A full-time writer since 1995, Robert Dessaix lives in Hobart, Tasmania.

Professor Nicholas Brown is Head of the School of History, Research School of Social Sciences at the ANU. His research focuses on Australian twentieth century social, environmental and biographical history. His last book A History of Canberra was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014. Nicholas fondly remembers being part of Robert Dessaix's small tutorial group on Turgenev when Robert was a lecturer at ANU.

Book signings will take place at 5.30pm before the conversation and then again after.