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How Proust Can Change Your Life [Paperback]

Alain de Botton
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

20 Jan 2006

‘What a marvellous book this is . . . de Botton dissects what [Proust] had to say about friendship, reading, looking carefully, paying attention taking your time, being alive and adds his own delicious commentary. The result is an intoxicating as it is wise, amusing as well as stimulating, and presented in so fresh a fashion as to be unique . . . I could not stop, and now much start all over again.’ Brian Masters, Mail on Sunday

‘De Botton not only has a complete understanding of Proust’s life . . . but what is particularly charming about this small, readable book is its tongue-in-cheek benignity, its lightly held erudition and its generous way of lending itself to what is not only the greatest book of the century but also the darkest and the most eccentric’ Edmund White, Observer

‘It contains more human interest and play of fancy than most fiction . . . de Botton, in emphasizing Proust’s healing, advisory aspects, does us the service of rereading him on our behalf, providing of that vast sacred lake a sweet and lucid distillation.’ John Updike, New Yorker

‘De Botton’s little book is so charming, amusing and sensible that it may even itself change your life.’ Allan Massie, Daily Telegraph

‘This engaging book is one of the most entertaining pieces of literary criticism I have read in a long while.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘A very enjoyable book’ Sebastian Faulks

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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (20 Jan 2006)
  • Language: Spanish
  • ISBN-10: 0330354914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330354912
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alain de Botton is the author of Essays in Love (1993), The Romantic Movement (1994), Kiss and Tell (1995), How Proust can Change your Life (1997), The Consolations of Philosophy (2000) The Art of Travel (2002), Status Anxiety (2004) and most recently, The Architecture of Happiness (2006).

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About the Author

Alain de Botton is the author of eight bestselling books including The Consolations of Philosophy, The Art of Travel and Essays in Love. He was born in 1969 and lives in London. For more information, consult:

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
119 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Simple Reminder Of Simple Truths 3 Oct 2004
I like this book very much and have read it several times. It's not really about Proust, it is about looking at the world like Proust. It is a simple reminder of the sort things we miss in life when we are immersed in the hurry-scurry of the rat-race. So if I'm a bit fed-up, I take up this book and learn to take a breath, while seeing the world afresh. I find the section on the portayal of everyday things in art, particularly inspiring and up-lifting. Its about appreciating the things that were always there but we fail to see. I recommend it highly.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to appreciate the simple things 9 Aug 2007
Reading anything by de Botton I feel a serenity descend upon me. His writing seems to have a soothing effect and this book was no different.

In "How Proust can change your life" he takes the wisdom to be found in the novels of Proust and shows how they can help us to live better lives. Or perhaps to make us aware that we live better lives than we think.

There are sections on how to love life, read for yourself, take your time, suffer succesfully, express your emotions, be a good friend, open your eyes, be happy in love and put books down.

I loved this book and it has made me feel I can read Proust and appreciate it properly. Swann's Way is next for me and I am looking forward to it with anticipation. But whether you intend to read Proust or not this book is well worth reading.
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176 of 186 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is it really so bad? 23 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Let me start by saying that I sleep well at night and don't pretend to have the vaguest clue about some of the great writers of literature. Now that I've established my honesty and credibility, maybe I can say a few words about this book. Personally, I think the author wouldn't be such a bad fellow to know. I like the way he segmented the book and described relevant portions of Proust. I am a soldier and spend a lot of time in the field; currently in a part of the world which is undergoing an uneasy truce. I read whatever I can get my hands on and am tired of the muscle and skin magazines, car magazines, etc., which is the normal fare. When a book like this comes along, which is fairly easy to read and digest and more importantly, makes me want to attempt the real thing, then I don't think it's such a bad book and certainly not deserving of one or two stars. As for re-evaluating life's experiences, I hope that I can sit back one day and use a "Proustian" view to re-examine my current experiences; something which I have not been able to do as I've only been able to react. That is probably the biggest lesson and the irony of the whole Proust phenomenon, that is, from his bed, he observes with the utmost clarity, the most minute activities of a day, while the rest of us are busy living and missing out on these subtleties and insights into ourselves.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Are you tired of self-help manuals? Is that because the authors often seem to need help themselves? Or they all spout the same buzzwords and clichés? Or they are banal and boring? It sounds as if you are all self-help-manualed-out. Perhaps you need something different. Try Marcel Proust, revered master of exquisite expression and luminous prose. In Search of Lost Time, also called Remembrance of Things Past, Proust's one-and-a-quarter-million-word magnum opus, does not contain a trite sentence or conventional thought. You can learn much about living from such a profound genius, including how to spend your time, how to see and feel things, and why, sometimes, it is best just to stay in bed. Alain de Botton is your witty, often hilarious guide, providing valuable life lessons from Proust's writings and thoughts. getAbstract finds this ingenious, utterly original treatment thoroughly enjoyable. Wishing you the same.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars de Botton on top form 21 Jun 2007
There is a section in this fantastic, unique work in which de Botton describes Proust's fanatical devotion to John Ruskin, the English art critic, an admiration which verged on infatuation. This book reveals that de Botton feels much the same way about Proust. Happily, the reader is left in absolutely no doubt as to why the author feels that way so insightful are the observations and so pertinent are the excerpts from "In Search of Lost Time". In fact, those without the time to read Proust's masterpiece (that is, almost everyone) will find no better synthesis of that great novel, and no more persuasive illustration of Proust's brilliance.

The whole experience is truly life-changing and, whilst the title does not reveal this, de Botton himself deserves some of the credit for that too.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect understanding of Proust 25 Sep 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author gives you Proust boiled down to its richest essence (and rich it is!) but without the usual idolising of the mere words that Proust wrote. Once you've read this book you'll have an understanding of how to see life like Proust without letting the trees get in the way of seeing the forest.
This book also has the most perfect last line I've ever read...
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the only book on Proust to read 9 May 2001
By A Customer
There's been a rush of Proust books of late, all claiming to lay bare the real secrets of the great author. To my mind, this is the only one that really matters, because it's the only that seems to have been written out of genuine love and passion, rather than some academic need to impress or get a better post at a university. It's a look at the philosophy and outlook on life of a truly profound writer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it as a glimpse ...
Really well written, it highlights the beauty all around us which we take for granted daily. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it as a glimpse into Proust and how... Read more
Published 19 minutes ago by barriesm
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 14 days ago by Jenny
4.0 out of 5 stars The Full Montee
I discovered de Botton on Radio 4 and at literary festivals, so was prepared for an interesting read, and, having struggled with Proust in the past, was hoping for a readable... Read more
Published 27 days ago by riviera writer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Mike Arch
4.0 out of 5 stars Humanist Hope
This is a little bit slow moving if you are not accustomed to reading a lot of haughty English narcissism but that aside it has a good down to earth message of hope. Read more
Published 1 month ago by IrishReader
4.0 out of 5 stars More sprout than Proust
Enjoyably frustrating. Clever, thought-provoking and informative, but not wholly fulfilling. Makes you want to grow your knowledge and become more self-aware - and cleverer - and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by tg
3.0 out of 5 stars Reviews were great but . . .
I purchased this mainly because of the commendations on the published book. I have not yet finished it, and by the time I do, I may change my mind about the rating, but it is a... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Byzantium
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny and unexpected
Good for anyone wanting an idea of Proust 's thoughts. Not sure if it made me want to read him or not read him though !!!
Published 7 months ago by monika gilbert-manning
5.0 out of 5 stars book
Interesting reading, it has not changed my view of Proust which I have always thought extremely boring. The seller experience was very good.
Published 9 months ago by arlette romaine
2.0 out of 5 stars A pain in De Botton.
Monsieur De Botton is a darling of the chattering classes in that he allows people to talk over dinner tables about books he has read for them. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Devil's Advocate
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