Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Proust is one of those authors like Anais Nin, Dostoevsky and Victor Hugo who separate the chicken readers from the chicken hawks. Do you have the mental stamina and intellectual acumen to take them on? Do you have the time? I attempted a run at Proust in my teenaged blue-stocking period when I was determined to prove myself an intellectual heavy-weight. Failed in the first round. Lost the will to live. But here is a little gem that gives you a soupcon of his brilliance without you having to make a seven-course meal of In Search of Lost Time. De Botton's book is not the "dazzling" work John Updike and various critics claim it to be - the mere mention of Proust creates shock and awe in others - and I'm not entirely convinced that the author critic has actually read Proust as most of his quotes come from letters, diaries, critical pieces, friends' memoirs and so on, in other words secondary not primary material; however, it is a charming, entertaining and thought-provoking work - aussi trés amusant - and I suspect Proust would have liked it. Best of all, it has encouraged me to take another look at that daunting writer. Perhaps. Maybe. Oh God ... life is too short ...

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