Sparkle for the dreary days ✨

How Proust Can Change Your LIfe by Alain De Botton

The edges of the book are worn out; it’s a second hand book from the bookshops on Church Street, Bangalore. The title was first published in 1997. My second Alain De Botton book; the first one was The Art of Travel 👉 The perfect muse to (or not) travel 🧚

I have heard of and read quotes of Proust, but knew nothing more about the French author; never bothered actually. I enjoyed The Art of Travel by Botton and wanted to read another and so I chose this book – How Proust Can Change Your LIfe.

“There are a few things humans are more dedicated to than unhappiness. Had we been placed on earth by a malign creator for the exclusive purpose of suffering, we would have good reason to congratulate ourselves on our enthusiastic response to the task.”

How Proust Can Change Your LIfe by Alain De Botton

This witty opening line of the book makes you smile and you know you are in for a treat !! 😌 I finished with the book months ago; it was funny, delightful, entertaining and helpful too ! I used Proust’s quote from this book in a prior post; when I had absolutely no words, he had the perfect lines 👉 POTD: White Moon 🌝

The book was not a one time read; instead of being stacked on the bookshelf, it has a place in the basket of books on the bedside table; it is good to be opened to a random page and simply read for the witty ruminations✨.

Marcel Proust’s celebrated novel is titled In Search of Lost Time, comprising of seven volumes, the first volume was published in 1913 and I don’t think I will have the patience to read through all that. And so this book is apt; a concise version of Proust’s philosophy on life, love, friendship, art, books, happiness. There is frequent reference to the characters of the novel In Search of Lost Time and even more interesting is how the author details Proust’s life – a life far from perfect !

“A good way of evaluating the wisdom of someone’s ideas might be to undertake a careful examination of the state of their own mind and health.

Afterall, if their pronouncements were truly worthy of our attention, we should expect the first person to reap their benefit would be their creator” said Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, a nineteenth century French literary critic.

Proust dismissed Sainte-Beuve’s thesis and argued forcefully that it was the books not the lives that mattered.

How Proust Can Change Your LIfe by Alain De Botton

And just so, Proust’s life seemed charming on the outside, son of a famous doctor, never had to work a day in his life except on his writing. But the author deconstructs Proust’s life and the irony that though he had the panacea to alleviate the misery from other people’s life, in his own life he was successfully miserable. The suffering though seems more self-inflicted (and purposeful !?). The author lists all the awkwardness, malaise, flaws and turmoil in Proust’s life which makes him curious and eccentric. Proust died single, aged 51. His theories however seem practical more so because the author has presented them in the most insightful manner.

What would it take for us to appreciate life more so a to derive happiness from living another day !? Simply acknowledge our mortality ! Cliche !? It’s pretty evident in the way the pandemic has reset out priorities !!

The author delves into a broad range of topics with Proustian philosophy on how we can do better. How to appreciate art and books better !?

“An effect of reading a book which has devoted attention to noticing such faint yet vital tremors is that, once we have put the volume down and resumed our life, we may attend to precisely the things which the author would have responded to had he or she been in our company.”

How Proust Can Change Your LIfe by Alain De Botton

An interesting read is How to Suffer Successfully !? How can we get better 🙃

“He tells us, for instance, that there are two methods by which a person can acquire wisdom, painlessly via a teacher or painfully via life, and he proposes that the painful variety is the far superior..”

How Proust Can Change Your LIfe by Alain De Botton

“Happiness is good for the body. Proust tells us, but it is grief which develops the strengths of the mind.”

How Proust Can Change Your LIfe by Alain De Botton

There is more advice on friendship, love, articulation, reading – how to be better, content and forever inquisitive !?

“So if speaking in cliches is problematic, it is because the world itself contains a far broader range of rainfalls, moons, sunshines and emotions than stock expressions either capture or teach us to expect.”

How Proust Can Change Your LIfe by Alain De Botton

Friendship is a dilemma because it has two listed agendas – secure affection and express ourselves honestly; they seem mutually exclusive. The Proustian way was simply that the two agendas were incompatible and so it is better to adopt a narrower agenda for friendship – merely for playful exchanges.

There is much more…..the humour, the benign sarcasm, the quotes, thoughts, pictures together with the author’s brilliant writing makes this a gem of a book. The author traces Proust’s life and the characters in his novel In Search of Lost Time to explain the Proustian philosophy. You can re-read the chapters and each time close with a smile.

Till next post, take care !!

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