Thursday, 26 April 2007

How Proust Can Change Your Life - Alain de Botton

Please remind me not to read any more non-fiction books, at least not random, spur of the moment, purchases.

I can read all sorts of fiction, some I can hardly remember and others leave an imprint which I'll remember for ever. But non-fiction leaves me with a feeling that I should be taking notes and fixing something in my memory. Too many years of text-books I suppose. Reading them without worrying whether they do or do not leave an impression doen't seem to be an option.

I had the same struggle with this one. I found it in an Oxfam shop (so at least it was in a good cause) and I'd been offered another Alain de Botton title by Amazon for some reason known only to Amazon, so it was obviously meant for me.

It's easy enough to read, taking a light-hearted but informative look at Marcel Proust's "A la Recherche du temps perdu". I know now that you shouldn't sleep with anyone on a first date, you should learn from your suffering, and be a good friend. Oh, and you shouldn't use clich├ęs. But the very last chapter was "How to Put Books Down". I think it ought to have been the first.

I don't think I'll be trying to plough my way through "A la Recherche du temps perdu" in French or in English any time soon.


  1. A.,
    A la recherche de temps perdu was, most unfortunately, one of the works I had to read - in French - in high school. Yikes. The only good thing was that we did not have to read the whole blessed thing - only excerpts. I get a headache when anyone mentions 'Proust'.

  2. Oh goodness, I can't imagine having to read it in French! The sentences appear to go on for pages ... I have every sympathy with your headaches :)

  3. Yes, I always thought of him as a French Cicero (who I also had to read, in Latin), not for any great powers of rhetoric, but because of those endless sentences.

  4. Yeah, but don't give up the madeleines. :-)

  5. See, you've started me off on yet another tangent. I remember so well one day tramping up and down the rue de la Madeleine looking for somewhere seeling madeleines because a visitor desperately wanted to eat madeleines on the rue de la Madeleine!

    And that was the time the church itself was being renovated and they put up hoardings with an image of the church to hide the works in progress instead of the usual scaffolding.

    And, and ... I'll stop for now I think.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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