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How Proust Can Change Your Life Paperback – 20 Jan 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (20 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330354914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330354912
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"This engaging book is one of the most entertaining pieces of literary criticism I have read in a long while." (The Sunday Telegraph)

"De Botton's little book is so charming, amusing and sensible that it may even itself change your life." (The Daily Telegraph)

"A self-help manual for the intelligent person . . . witty, funny, and tonic." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Delightfully original. . . . As well as being criticism, biography, literary history and a reader's guide to Proust's masterpiece, How Proust Can Change Your Life is a self-help book in the deepest sense of the term." (The New York Times)

"Curious, humorous, didactic and dazzling. . . . It contains more human interest and play of fancy than most fiction." (The New Yorker)

"This is a genius-level piece of writing that manages to blend literary biography with self-help and tongue-in-cheek with the profound. The quirky, early 1900s French author Marcel Proust acts as the vessel for surprisingly impressive nuggets of wisdom on down-to-earth topics such as why you should never sleep with someone on the first date, how to protect yourself against lower back pain, and how to cope with obnoxious neighbors. Here's proof that our ancestors had just as much insight as the gurus du jour and perhaps a lot more wit. De Botton simultaneously pokes fun at the self-help movement and makes a significant contribution to its archives." (Amazon) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 23 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 26 Dec. 2000
Format: Paperback
I am a mixed de Botton fan (some books I love, some I loathe) and I didn't enjoy this because I read it after 'Consolations of Philosophy', which is much, much better. I have to say that de Botton does write well and with a great deal of charm but is this book really saying anything. For example: De botton spends a fair number of pages in Chapter 1 discussing how we see people we love in characters in books. He does this amusingly, including photos of his girlfriend, but at the end of the day, it is hardly a staggering point, or one of much relevance to anything, really. This is the case with much of the book. It all sounds very clever, but when you strip away the fancy words and distill the essence of the points, they are essentially quite shallow. In this respect, the book does perform a feat, in that it gives the illusion of saying very many profound things, when in fact it doesn't at all. It's the sort of book that literary snobs / upper class readers will therefore love - and who will be so won over by his writing style and the fact that he makes Proust accessible, they will fail to notice this error.
The other problem is that this book isn't really about Proust, it's about de Botton. Like 'THe Romantic Movement', it's a very narcisstic book, where de botton is more interested in his own ideas than his subject's. It's as if de Botton has laid out his own life philosophy and used Proust to prop him up. Proof of this is shown in the chapter on love, which echoes many of de Botton's theories in his earlier novels. Only this time round he manages to make it look as though they are really Proust's ideas, and he just happens to agree.
I just found this book far too pretentious for its own good. However, 'Consolations of Philosophy' is much better - somehow it is written with a great deal of humanity, and you sense de Botton really wishes to help people, but this one reads as though he is just showing off.
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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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Format: Paperback
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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