Customer Review

151 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book, Jane Austen,Tolstoy and Hello magazine rolled into one.....what a treat, 6 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves (Hardcover)
I loved this book - reading these short stories ( based on sessions between patients and psychoanalyst) is like lifting the curtains on the lives of your friends and neighbours and, yes, even yourself... To this end I have been posting this book through the doors of aforementioned friends in the hope that we can pepper our walks and talks with some of the insights offered by author Stephen Grosz. Have we over-praised our children? Have we invented fantasy escapes from our everyday lives? Does change scare us? And if, like me, you suspect that psychoanalysis might be a bit of a magician's art, you will be won over by the clarity and humility of the writing and the fascinating insights into how psychoanalysts actually work. The great joy of these highly engaging stories is that, unlike reading fiction where you might think, do I really believe a character would have acted like that, or, is this plot really believable, you know these stories are true: how satisfying it is to be presented with a character in crisis only to discover exactly what precipitated the crisis and how resolution might - or might not - be achieved; such a joy! If I was pressed, I would say this book is a meeting of Jane Austen, Tolstoy and Hello magazine. What a treat.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Feb 2013 15:26:44 GMT
Astonished that you can rationally connect Tolstoy and Hello Magazine (and their respective values) in one sentence.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2013 10:16:49 GMT
Sarah Rayner says:
I'm not astonished, I'm impressed. It sums up pithily why this book is such a joy - it's a mix of the intellectual and accessible. Oh I do get exasperated by cultural snobs!

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2013 13:38:02 GMT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Mar 2013 22:02:51 GMT
Actually, it wasn't an insult, it was a statement of Ms Rayner's feelings. The fact that you perceive it as an insult proves that it was, in fact, taken wholly on board by you. Sorry.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2013 07:50:12 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Mar 2013 13:49:07 GMT
Thanks for your opinion Mr.Stone.

I am alarmed by some of your logic. An insult is an insult whether it was a statement of Ms.Rayner's feelings or not !! But this is semantics. I know a spade when I see one, and I'm not letting Ms.Rayner's spade hide behind semantics.

You also suggested that, IF an insult annoys, therefore it MUST be "true", and if it is true, then it must be justified !! Come on, Mr.Stone ! What sort of world do you live in ?

Mr.Stone, civilisation is built on restraint, not insults -because all of us are vulnerable. (Including my apparent accuser. I was very aware of the apparent "inverted snobbery" of my accuser's remark, but I refrained from saying so. Now I have ! )

Maybe there is unclarity about what a "snob" might be ?

If someone who CAN and DOES descriminate between Tolstoy and Hello Magazine (see above) is "a snob", then I am delighted to be referred to as "a snob", and thankyou Ms.Rayner. (But I don't think that is what Ms.Rayner meant !! Maybe she could let us know?)

The world needs MORE, not less, descrimination between what is ORDINARY (e.g.'Hello') and what is EXCELLENT (e.g.Tolstoy). How otherwise can we progress ? This kind of descrimination is something which should be encouraged, not condemned, but sadly it appears Ms.Rayner disagrees ?

Best regards.

Posted on 4 Mar 2013 12:35:58 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 2 Oct 2013 10:20:28 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2013 17:20:10 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Mar 2013 17:27:32 GMT
Mr/Ms Ramsey-Hardy, I did not suggest anything about insults, I stated. That aside, I did not say that if an insult annoys it must be "true" or "justified", I said that if an implied criticism hit home it proved that you had taken it on board, therefore you had by no means rejected it. If Ms Rayner had said "Oh, I do feel exasperated by people who eat cucumber" you would - I assume - be unoffended, seeing no implied fault in cucumber eating. However, when she inferred (note, NOT openly stated) that you may be one of that clan who are elitist about the arts, you took insult. Therefore, by straightforward logic, you embraced both that being a cultural snob is an insult and that the epithet did indeed apply to you. You rejected nothing.

As for the rest of your remarks, at no point does the author of this review fail to discriminate between Tolstoy and Hello magazine. In fact she goes out of her way to say, not once but twice, that it is "a meeting of Jane Austen, Tolstoy and Hello magazine". Note, a MEETING. She exhibits no confusion over the differences between these people; she is expressing instead that a common ground has been achieved where these minds and viewpoints are able to merge into, I assume, a bigger picture. Do you fondly imagine that these people could not meet? Do you imagine that Tolstoy only dealt with big important questions and Hello magazine does not? Do you feel that intellectuals only worry about the great things - perhaps they do not eat, defecate, suffer from embarrassing ailments? Or is it that the unthinking classes do not suffer from marriage breakdowns, economic crises, or death? And why has Jane Austen escaped your scathing superiority? Could it be because her genius lay in the minutiae of everyday life, just like Hello magazine, and that doesn't suit your argument of the great poles between brilliance and the mundane?

As "someone who CAN and DOES descriminate between Tolstoy and Hello Magazine" please do explain to us how the "excellent" and the "ordinary" differ in their outlook on being human, and why you feel it is totally inappropriate to allow the meeting of great and 'lesser' minds when they are discussing the human condition.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2013 17:25:09 GMT
Grr, are you put off reading the book because it has no celebrities or royalty, or because it it does? And why are you so keen to annoy Ms Rayner? Is it because you do, indeed, dislike being thought of as a cultural snob? If so, might I suggest you do not go to such great lengths to proclaim that you do not care, when you patently do?

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2013 09:50:31 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 5 Nov 2013 10:13:41 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2013 23:24:51 GMT
Yes, just like Hello magazine. Hello magazine IS part of the minutiae of everday life. Unless you think that it's only read by elite academics? Not only that, but it is completely obsessed by the romantic lives of the aristocracy, both literal and media, exactly as Austen's novels are. Furthermore, its mainstay is gossip, gossip and more gossip. It is about as shallow and unimportant as the ever-present Austenesque theme of conjecture about who might be coming to live next at the big house. It IS everything that Jane Austen wrote about. And it certainly can be USED to study the human condition, if the reader has half a brain and the ability to think for themselves, rather than simply letting 'great men' do the thinking for you.

At no point did I say Hello magazine was "as good as" anything. My comments are not about artistic value judgements, just as the original review is not about value judgements. We are discussing the melding of cultural ideas and precepts, high and low, and in order to do that, it is necessary to mention Jane Austen in the same sentence as lightweight disposable entertainment. Lightweight disposable entertainement that is read by millions of people, who, however much you consider them your intellectual inferiors, are frequently the subjects of Tolstoy's novels - even more than they are part of Austen's novels, since she never wrote about servants, serfs or the poor. Only the rich, beautiful and famous interested Austen. Just like Hello magazine.

If it will make you feel somehow vindicated in your elitism, I am more than happy to call you a cultural snob, but I rather fear you're not quite bright enough, or well-read enough, to be one.
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