How Proust Can Change Your Life

Look inside
Paperback
$17.00 US
5.16"W x 7.98"H x 0.56"D  
On sale Apr 28, 1998 | 208 Pages | 9780679779155
| Grades AP/IB
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 unclichéd 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.
© Vincent Starr
Alain de Botton is the author of nonfiction works on subjects ranging from love and travel to architecture and philosophy. His most recent work, The News: A User's Manual, will be released by Pantheon Books in February of 2014. His best-selling books include How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Art of Travel and The Architecture of Happiness. He lives in London, where he founded The School of Life (www.theschooloflife.com) and Living Architecture (www.living-architecture.co.uk). View titles by Alain De Botton
Following is an excerpt from Chapter 8, "How to be Happy in Love":

Q: Did Proust have any relevant thoughts on dating? What should one talk about on a first date?

A: Advice is scant. A more fundamental doubt is whether one should accept dinner in the first place.

There is no doubt that a person's charms are less frequently a cause of love than a remark such as: "No, this evening I shan't be free."

If this response proves bewitching, it is because of the connection made...between appreciation and absence. Though a person may be filled with attributes, an incentive is nevertheless required to ensure that a seducer will focus wholeheartedly on these, an incentive which finds perfect form in
a dinner rebuff.

Q: Was he against sex before marriage?

A: No, just before love. And not for any starchy reasons, simply because he felt it wasn't a good idea to sleep together when encouraging someone to fall in love was a consideration.

Women who are to some extent resistant, whom one cannot possess at once, whom one does not even know at first whether one will ever possess, are the only interesting ones.

Q: Surely not?

A: Other women may of course be fascinating, the problem is that they risk not seeming so...

Q: Are there any secrets to long-lasting relationships?

A: Infidelity. Not the act itself, but the threat of it. For Proust, an injection of jealousy is the only thing capable of rescuing a relationship ruined by habit...The threat of losing their partner
may lead them to realize that they have not appreciated this person adequately...If someone threatens the relationship, they get jealous, wake up for a moment, have another kiss with the horny tusk, and get bored once more. Condensed into a male heterosexual version, the situation runs
like this:

Afraid of losing her, we forget all the others. Sure of keeping her, we compare her with the those others whom at once we prefer to her.
"Delightfully original.... As well as being criticism, biography, literary history, and a reader's guide to Proust's masterpiece, this is a self-help book in the deepest sense of the term." —The New York Times

"One of my favorite books of the year.... Seriously cheeky, cheekily serious." —Julian Barnes

"Curious, humorous, didactic, and dazzling.... It contains more human interest and play of fancy than most fiction." —John Updike, The New Yorker

"A witty, elegant book that helps us learn what reading is for." —Doris Lessing

"A wonderful meditation on aspects of Proust in the form of a self-help book. Very enjoyable." —Sebastian Faulks

"Funny and very refreshing." —San Francisco Chronicle

About

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 unclichéd 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.

Author

© Vincent Starr
Alain de Botton is the author of nonfiction works on subjects ranging from love and travel to architecture and philosophy. His most recent work, The News: A User's Manual, will be released by Pantheon Books in February of 2014. His best-selling books include How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Art of Travel and The Architecture of Happiness. He lives in London, where he founded The School of Life (www.theschooloflife.com) and Living Architecture (www.living-architecture.co.uk). View titles by Alain De Botton

Excerpt

Following is an excerpt from Chapter 8, "How to be Happy in Love":

Q: Did Proust have any relevant thoughts on dating? What should one talk about on a first date?

A: Advice is scant. A more fundamental doubt is whether one should accept dinner in the first place.

There is no doubt that a person's charms are less frequently a cause of love than a remark such as: "No, this evening I shan't be free."

If this response proves bewitching, it is because of the connection made...between appreciation and absence. Though a person may be filled with attributes, an incentive is nevertheless required to ensure that a seducer will focus wholeheartedly on these, an incentive which finds perfect form in
a dinner rebuff.

Q: Was he against sex before marriage?

A: No, just before love. And not for any starchy reasons, simply because he felt it wasn't a good idea to sleep together when encouraging someone to fall in love was a consideration.

Women who are to some extent resistant, whom one cannot possess at once, whom one does not even know at first whether one will ever possess, are the only interesting ones.

Q: Surely not?

A: Other women may of course be fascinating, the problem is that they risk not seeming so...

Q: Are there any secrets to long-lasting relationships?

A: Infidelity. Not the act itself, but the threat of it. For Proust, an injection of jealousy is the only thing capable of rescuing a relationship ruined by habit...The threat of losing their partner
may lead them to realize that they have not appreciated this person adequately...If someone threatens the relationship, they get jealous, wake up for a moment, have another kiss with the horny tusk, and get bored once more. Condensed into a male heterosexual version, the situation runs
like this:

Afraid of losing her, we forget all the others. Sure of keeping her, we compare her with the those others whom at once we prefer to her.

Praise

"Delightfully original.... As well as being criticism, biography, literary history, and a reader's guide to Proust's masterpiece, this is a self-help book in the deepest sense of the term." —The New York Times

"One of my favorite books of the year.... Seriously cheeky, cheekily serious." —Julian Barnes

"Curious, humorous, didactic, and dazzling.... It contains more human interest and play of fancy than most fiction." —John Updike, The New Yorker

"A witty, elegant book that helps us learn what reading is for." —Doris Lessing

"A wonderful meditation on aspects of Proust in the form of a self-help book. Very enjoyable." —Sebastian Faulks

"Funny and very refreshing." —San Francisco Chronicle

Celebrate 100 years of James Baldwin

We’re celebrating the centennial of James Baldwin’s birth by sharing a collection of his work. Explore titles and learn more about the literary legend and civil rights champion.   James Baldwin (1924–1987) was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews, and his

Read more

The New York Times’s 100 Best Books of the 21st Century

The New York Times recently published their list “100 Best Books of the 21st Century.” We are pleased to announce that there are 49 titles published from Penguin Random House and its distribution clients included in this list. Browse our collection of Penguin Random House titles here. Browse the full list from The New York

Read more

2024 Middle and High School Collections

The Penguin Random House Education Middle School and High School Digital Collections feature outstanding fiction and nonfiction from the children’s, adult, DK, and Grupo Editorial divisions, as well as publishers distributed by Penguin Random House. Peruse online or download these valuable resources to discover great books in specific topic areas such as: English Language Arts,

Read more

PRH Education High School Collections

All reading communities should contain protected time for the sake of reading. Independent reading practices emphasize the process of making meaning through reading, not an end product. The school culture (teachers, administration, etc.) should affirm this daily practice time as inherently important instructional time for all readers. (NCTE, 2019)   The Penguin Random House High

Read more

PRH Education Translanguaging Collections

Translanguaging is a communicative practice of bilinguals and multilinguals, that is, it is a practice whereby bilinguals and multilinguals use their entire linguistic repertoire to communicate and make meaning (García, 2009; García, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017)   It is through that lens that we have partnered with teacher educators and bilingual education experts, Drs.

Read more

PRH Education Classroom Libraries

“Books are a students’ passport to entering and actively participating in a global society with the empathy, compassion, and knowledge it takes to become the problem solvers the world needs.” –Laura Robb   Research shows that reading and literacy directly impacts students’ academic success and personal growth. To help promote the importance of daily independent

Read more