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6) How Proust Can Change Your Life, by Alain de Botton

I'm tremendously grateful to webcowgirl for recommending this to me. De Botton does a brilliant job of juxtaposing Proust's many oddities as a person (there is a truly hilarious account of his one disastrous meeting with James Joyce) with the achievement of his writing. In particular, he points out, the point of Proust's work is not so much to bring us into the imagined world of Combray, Balbec and Paris, but to equip us readers to experience our own world, our relationships, our reading, all the more vividly. The chapters have titles like "How to Be a Good Friend", "How to Be Happy in Love" and "How to Suffer Successfully", all with evidence from In Search of Lost Time backed up with stories from Proust's own life of how he did (or quite often did not) live up to these ideas himself. Excellent stuff, and actually a great book for people who have not yet read Proust but might be thinking about doing so.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
webcowgirl
Sep. 6th, 2008 11:19 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I just got the copy back that was "borrowed" from me back in January and I note I missed it the whole time.
nwhyte
Sep. 6th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
Well, definitely worth while to invest in one of my own, in order to spread the word!

Will be very happy to send you the Ill-Made Mute, if you can let me have your coordinates.
martin_wisse
Sep. 7th, 2008 09:22 am (UTC)
To be honest, I can't think of anything less likely to make me read Proust than a book extolling its virtues in helping you reshape your own life. All a bit too "the seven habits of highly efficient people".
nwhyte
Sep. 7th, 2008 09:49 am (UTC)
Gosh, what is so bad about the 7 habits? (And it's effective, not efficient, which makes a big difference to the concept.)

Anyway, de Botton is very humorous and engaging about it; he certainly isn't prescriptive, it's more just explaining what Proust has to offer.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 5th, 2008 01:24 am (UTC)
Yes
I agree with Martin. Although I have not read the book, it seems to me a perversion of something genuine and beautiful. I should think that anyone who actually has the intellectual ability to tackle such an epic novel should be astute enough to pick up on the underlying themes running through the book.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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