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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.
Bette "How deBotton can change Proust and you, dear Reader". This book opened my eyes to 1) how we lose time (while meaning to gain it) and 2) how we might attempt once... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Henriette T. Donner
Sorry but although I persevered and read this through to the bitter end, it just didn't do anything for me.Published on July 13 2004 by Keith Appleyard
I realize I am in the minority but I thought this book was a very weak extraction of some of Proust's concepts that almost seemed insipid after de Botton removed them from their... Read morePublished on May 23 2003 by C. Collins
This book was a very interesting treatise on human characters, not to mention Proust himself. Makes a good companion for the novel that it references, In Search of Lost Time if I'm... Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2003 by Bunny Bear
The purpose for reading philosophy is twofold: to understand one's nature and to change it for the better. Read morePublished on Feb. 10 2003 by A. M. Rosencrants
I bought this book because of its title. I have always wanted to read "In Search of Lost Time" , but got discouraged because of its length. Read morePublished on Nov. 11 2002 by W. Rashed
A fun little audio-book, provides insight into Proust's life and writings. It did leave me pleased but a little disappointed. Perhaps the printed edition would have been better.Published on Oct. 16 2002 by TLD
De Botton pays homage to Proust by making his prose almost as impenetrable as the prose of the man he writes about. Read morePublished on Oct. 8 2002