The important business of idle loafing

In our godless, post-industrial, hyper-competitive world, rest is seen merely as recuperation: it’s when we man-machines ‘recharge our batteries’, as the cliché goes, before dashing back to the factory or work-station. It’s a negative concept. You rest for a reason, which is to avoid burnout. All you should really do to be happy is read light novels or self-help books, advises Montaigne But as this charming and subtle meditation on the subject from a grand French historian shows, rest used to be far more than just taking time off. It is a religious concept. Take the rest enjoyed by Adam and Eve in Milton’s Paradise Lost. In the Garden of