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How Proust Can Change Your Life Paperback – Bargain Price, Apr 28 1998


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Paperback, Bargain Price, Apr 28 1998
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New title edition (April 28 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679779159
  • ASIN: B00DVP0O3Y
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.8 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #342,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore on June 26 2003
Format: Paperback
First, while I really love this little book, it doesn't quite deliver on the title. Not that the title isn't accurate. Very few fiction writers can actually change one's life, but Proust is one of a very few that can (reading him has very definitely changed mine), but I'm not quite sure that de Botton gets at the reasons why. At least, he didn't get to the specific reasons that Proust has had that effect on my life.
Nonetheless, this remains an amazingly good introduction to Proust, and is a marvelous first-book for anyone contemplating reading Proust's masterpiece. Proust is, of course, the author of what is very widely considered to be the great work of literature of the past century and what is increasingly considered one of the great masterpieces in the history of literature: IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME. de Botton's volume isn't precisely an introduction to Proust so much as a series of reflections on themes that can be illustrated by aspects of Proust's life or by passages in his great novel. Many of these are marvelous at assisting even a veteran reader of Proust to gain new insights into his book.
Is the book worthwhile for someone who does not plan on reading Proust but just wants to read an enjoyable book? Certainly. de Botton is unfailingly witty, almost always interesting, and frequently insightful. None of this relies either upon having read Proust or intending to. The book can certainly stand on its own. Reading this book is fun and easy; reading Proust can be fun at times, but it is also challenging and demanding frequently. But that may be why de Botton's book is unable to show how Proust truly can change your life.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "armalloy2" on Oct. 31 2003
Format: Paperback
I read all the time, every day, and this book is fantastic. I've read Proust, but it isn't necessary to have read him to love this book. In fact, this book makes a nice introduction to Proust, and if you wanted to fake having read Proust, this would be an enjoyable way to pick up enough information to do just that :-)
This book is simply one of the loveliest meditations on reading and life, and how they intertwine, that I've ever read. It's not a book for people who don't like to read, but for anyone who DOES like to read, I think it would make a lovely gift. I gave it to myself, and I thanked myself for it very much.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. M. Rosencrants on Feb. 10 2003
Format: Paperback
The purpose for reading philosophy is twofold: to understand one's nature and to change it for the better. Modern and post modern philosophy is to choked with metaphysical gibberish that unsuccessfully tries to explain one's nature and has no practical purpose. Usually nothing worthwhile can be gleaned from studying modern and post- modern philosophical material.
This book is excellent in a sly way.
Proust's (pronounced Pruest) writing is notoriously lengthy. I have never read any of his work yet. De Botton shows the worth of reading Proust in a modern age where information is instant and usually incomplete. De Botton's reasons are a mix of Bloom's "How to Read and Why" and the realization that Proust is a little to lengthy for the impact of his philosophy to be maximized. "How Proust Can Change Your Life" is half Cliffs Notes and half simplistic self help books like "All I Needed to Know I learned in Kindergarten."
De Botton was probably someone who was turned off by the frequency of educators and authors who sucked the life out of the gist of the material. I like the balls and cheekiness of the subjects tackled, but I honestly doubt that anyone who purchases this book would be disinclined to read a lenghthy tome before reading this book anyways. I doubt De Botton is seeking converts who will become comfortable reading authors like Proust. In fact, I think he is saying that Proust's books are a little to long for their own good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Feb. 9 2001
Format: Paperback
I can see where this book might rub some people the wrong way. People with an old fashioned dedication to literature probably won't appreciate Alain de Botton's clever re-contextualizing of Proust within the modern genre of self-help. I might feel similarly if de Botton claimed to be writing a real self-help book or a serious examination of Proust, but he never attempts to perform either feat.
Instead, de Botton accomplishes several things. He parodies self-help books, he undertakes a humorous and highly personal exploration of Proust, and he makes a witty argument about how literature can aid us in our daily lives. The heart of de Botton's message is actually paradoxical. From one perspective he is saying, "don't take literature too seriously" and from another he is saying, "literature is a critical tool in everyone's life".
I believe that all of us essentially reinvent what we read and use it to interpret our lives and the world around us. De Botton simply provides a humorous and intelligent blue print of this natural process.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Dec 7 1999
Format: Paperback
It's hard to imagine how Proust can change your life if you don't actually read Proust. Never mind; the author really wants to tell you how Alain de Botton can change your life. If you remember that in the natural course of things change is usually for the worse and that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, you'll probably manage to avoid this collection of smarmy platitudes. Why didn't I? The title intrigued me. (This book deserves one star for its title, however disingenuous.)
But how did I come to hear of the title? An acquaintance recommended this author to me. The acquaintance and I are both fans of another author: Milan Kundera. So instead of "Not Proust" I recommend to you in turn the works of Milan Kundera, particularly his, yes, a novel, "The Joke".
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