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How Proust Can Change Your Life Paperback – April 28, 1998
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From the Inside Flap
Alain de Botton combines two unlikely genres--literary biography and self-help manual--in the hilarious and unexpectedly practical How Proust Can Change Your Life.
Who would have thought that Marcel Proust, one of the most important writers of our century, could provide us with such a rich source of insight into how best to live life? Proust understood that the essence and value of life was the sum of its everyday parts. As relevant today as they were at the turn of the century, Proust's life and work are transformed here into a no-nonsense guide to, among other things, enjoying your vacation, reviving a relationship, achieving original and uncliched articulation, being a good host, recognizing love, and understanding why you should never sleep with someone on a first date. It took de Botton to find the inspirational in Proust's essays, letters and fiction and, perhaps even more surprising, to draw out a vivid and clarifying portrait of the master from between the lines of his work.
Here is Proust as we have never seen or read him before: witty, intelligent, pragmatic. He might well change your life.
From the Back Cover
"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
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These are but a few of the bon mots found in Proust Can Change Your Life--a delightful literary "self-help" that really is helpful. If not ground-shakingly original, they are life-shakingly worthwhile. In addition to all of the above How Proust Can Change Your Life ponders how great literature can impact our lives and how real creativity is a way of seeing and feeling an experience more deeply and more profoundly than most. Very worthwhile--the sort of book I'm sure I will be returning to.
Whether you beg, borrow or buy, this author will be a consistently valuable addition to your lifetime reading list.
In a way, I found some of Proust's observations (distilled for us by De Botton) very familiar to those by Walker Percy, addressing the phenomenon of people coming to see the Grand Canyon for the first time: one's initial experience is so often conditioned by the images that we already hold of the thing as-yet-to-be experienced. Indeed, some disappointed reviewers of this book have indicated that it failed their expectations. Would that they could have left those at the door, and followed the advice Proust gives!