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Literature as salvation?,
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This review is from: How Proust Can Change Your Life (Paperback)
This book deserves all the praise it has received. It does something I've never been able to do when talking to friends: it articulates the value of reading and studying literature. You don't have to have read IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME to enjoy this book. In fact, de Botton could probably have subsituted Joyce, Faulkner, or Woolf for Proust and produced a similar study. The self-help format seems appropriate (even if sardonically intended). De Botton seems to be directly addressing (and at times challenging) the earnestness of people who turn to books to improve themselves (and who expect books to show them the best way to improve those around them). My favorite chapters were "How to Suffer Successfully" and "How to Be a Good Friend." The final chapter, "How to Put Down Books," should probably be photocopied and stapled to the door of every library and bookstore. I cautions us against bibliolatry.
One tiny gripe. De Botton does not always identify the works he is quoting from. We don't need to know specific page numbers, but it would be nice to know if a quotation is from one of the volumes of IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, or from an essay or letter. In one case, I wasn't sure if the quote was Proust's or Ruskin's.