How Proust Can Change Your Life Audio CD – Audiobook, 1 Jan 2005
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"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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A self-help book like few others. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Un fair, I hear you moan. I know. Your're right.
Alain DeBotton's witty and concise critique of Proust in bibliographic format is up beat, insightful and funny! He refers to Proust as a sickly young man who showed immense sensitivity for his Parisian life style, his friends and especially his mother! Apparently, he literally couldn't take a dump without detailing every satisfactory and unsatisfactory movement to "mamon". When he went away on holidays, letter after letter, would detail how much he could or couln't eat, how much he could or couldn't sleep and the regularity of his bowel movements. Like wise mamon would relpy to her son, demanding more details concerning these matters. Weight, size, shape and shade became fundamental details of her son's well being.
Still, I guess, any mother or father worth their salt maintains a similarly watchful eye on the in and out trays of their off springs digestive system.
DeBotton, reviews different aspects of Proustian philiosophy: how to be a good friend, how to express emotion, how to take your time and so on. Each section being neatly summed up by DeBotton for its merits and de-merits. It was refreshing to see the author unafraid to refute Proust's views and offer an alternative. The last chapter is very powerful, to me anyway: how to put books down. Here both the subject and the author agree. Books are great, they enlighten, they impress, they reassure and they offer a dim light for errant souls. And here, in this last comment, lies the best part of DeBotton's book and the Proustian perspective. Should you read literture by the yard, find your head in permanant tilt in a nose bag of books and intoxicate yourself on the heady mix of word and expression; you'll only scratch the surface of the self. That is, yourself. As the author says, "even the finest books deserve to be thrown aside"
In short, worth a read and a good read at that, but no one, Proust or anyone else for that matter, can change your life.
We're told how Proust said he would spend his final weeks if given notice of impending doom; how rich, deep, complex and worth savouring he found life; how strongly he advocated continually learning from misfortune.
We learn how vividly he identified fictional characters with real ones; how alert he was to the artistic skill of highlighting what the audience knew but had never articulated; and how passionate he was for originality, hence authenticity, versus imitation and cliché.
De Botton describes Proust's emphatic distinction between the amount of truth to be found in books and the amount to be found in relationships; and his delight in the edification of books in combination with continuing to think for ourselves.
He goes on to illustrate the ways Proust emphasised the importance of appreciating what you have, rather than what you might have; the value of the humble compared to the exalted; the greater reward we find in things we have had to yearn for; and how readily familiarity breeds contempt.
We are left in no doubt that Proust can change our life for the better.
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