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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Generally writers fall into one of two camps: those who feel that one can't write without having a firm grasp on Proust, and those who, like Virginia Woolf, are crippled by his influence. De Botton, the author of On Love, The Romantic Movement and Kiss and Tell, obviously falls into the former category. But rather than an endless exegesis on memory, de Botton has chosen to weave Proust's life, work, friends and era into a gently irreverent, tongue-in-cheek self-help book. For example, in the chapter titled "How to Suffer Successfully," de Botton lists poor Proust's many difficulties (asthma, "awkward desires," sensitive skin, a Jewish mother, fear of mice), which is essentially a funny way of telling the reader quite a lot about the man's life. Next he moves on to Proust's little thesis that because we only really think when distressed, we shouldn't worry about striving for happiness so much as "pursuing ways to be properly and productively unhappy." De Botton then cheerily judges various characters of A la recherche against their author's maxims. At the beginning, when de Botton drags his own girlfriend into a tortuous and not terribly successful digression, readers may be skeptical, but they will be won over by his whimsical relation of Proust's lessons?essentially an exhortation to slow down, pay attention and learn from life. Is it profound? No. Does this add something new to Proust scholarship? Probably not. But it's a real pleasure to read someone who treats this sacrosanct subject as something that is still vital and vigorous. 25,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Good enough to have read it 6 times and still not get all of it. I was taken by surprise at Proust's significance in history and myth -- beyond being a Monty Python joke. Read morePublished 1 month ago by LaPortaMA
My sister was right. This is a great book! I would have preferred it on paper in order to skip back and forth.Published 1 month ago by Sara Bishop
I don't know if it's just me, but this is one massively overrated book. Love Alain, but this is not up to a level I used to read his books. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Marko
Alain had me at "There are few things humans are more dedicated to than unhappiness," i.e. the first sentence. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Terre
I like all Alain's books. Someone must re-read these books all the time. They are classic. I recommend this author and all his booksPublished 4 months ago by Ninos Youkhana
Recommend. Wonderful take on old philosopher's words with writer's own extension of thoughts. I like that the writing not only shows the culture environment surrounding the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Happycustomer
Enlightening and entertaining. For a book on an author I didn't know and had never contemplated reading, what more can I ask for? Proust is now definitely on my to read list.Published 5 months ago by S. Gillette