Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life? tries to find an inspiration and explore various themes out of Proust’s essays, letters, and his fictional work. It’s a clever book with an amusing and an evoking title. No prior knowledge of Proust or his epic, seven volume novel In Search of Lost Time is necessary in order to read and enjoy this book but after reading it, half of you will go for the first volume of In Search of Lost Time if you haven’t read Proust’s work before.
How Proust Can Change Your Life? reflects not only on Proustian philosophy, but the way Proust’s life (as an habitual hypochondriac and Mama’s boy) was almost comically at odds with his logical ideas. Proust had a curiously inspiring vision of the meaning of life and how to live it. He explored in his most famous work, In Search of Lost Time, the dynamic nature of family, love, death, pain, friendship, dating and most essential to all of his ideas, how to open your eyes to the world around you.
The subtitle of this small book , “Not a Novel” is a hint to its reader that it’s an exploration of Proust’s world. It is a book that investigates Proust’s thoughts on enjoying a 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.
Divided into nine chapters offering advice Alain de Botton shows how Proust can be a useful guide to life. “How to suffer successfully” and “How to put Books down” may not seem among the most pressing pieces of knowledge for the modern age, but de Botton makes a charming case for such knowledge.
If that is not enough to captivate you, Alain de Botton’s words will. His writing is so fluent and structured that not for once you will disengaged with it. A little over 200 pages is enough for a four-five hour reading marathon. Myself, finished it in one sitting.
After reading this 200 page literary essay, yes I have started considering it as an essay, in which the author tries to express his admiration for Marcel Proust and is enough to motivate me to go on and explore with my own eyes and radical mind, Proust famous work, In Search of Lost Time.