Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Proust Questionnaire

The Proust Questionnaire is based on two questionnaires that Marcel Proust filled out - one when he was 13, another when he was 20.

At age 13, Proust answered the following questions.
* What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
To be separated from Mama
* Where would you like to live?
In the country of the Ideal, or, rather, of my ideal
* What is your idea of earthly happiness?
To live in contact with those I love, with the beauties of nature, with a quantity of books and music, and to have, within easy distance, a French theater
* To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
To a life deprived of the works of genius
* Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Those of romance and poetry, those who are the expression of an ideal rather than an imitation of the real
* Who are your favorite characters in history?
A mixture of Socrates, Pericles, Mahomet, Pliny the Younger and Augustin Thierry
* Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
A woman of genius leading an ordinary life
* Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Those who are more than women without ceasing to be womanly; everything that is tender, poetic, pure and in every way beautiful
* Your favorite painter?
* Your favorite musician?
* The quality you most admire in a man?
Intelligence, moral sense
* The quality you most admire in a woman?
Gentleness, naturalness, intelligence
* Your favorite virtue?
All virtues that are not limited to a sect: the universal virtues
* Your favorite occupation?
Reading, dreaming, and writing verse
* Who would you have liked to be?
Since the question does not arise, I prefer not to answer it. All the same, I should very much have liked to be Pliny the Younger.

Marcel in his twenties,
* Your most marked characteristic?
A craving to be loved, or, to be more precise, to be caressed and spoiled rather than to be admired
* The quality you most like in a man?
Feminine charm
* The quality you most like in a woman?
A man's virtues, and frankness in friendship
* What do you most value in your friends?
Tenderness - provided they possess a physical charm which makes their tenderness worth having
* What is your principle defect?
Lack of understanding; weakness of will
* What is your favorite occupation?
* What is your dream of happiness?
Not, I fear, a very elevated one. I really haven't the courage to say what it is, and if I did I should probably destroy it by the mere fact of putting it into words.
* What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
Never to have known my mother or my grandmother
* What would you like to be?
Myself - as those whom I admire would like me to be
* In what country would you like to live?
One where certain things that I want would be realized - and where feelings of tenderness would always be reciprocated. [Proust's underlining]
* What is your favorite color?
Beauty lies not in colors but in thier harmony
* What is your favorite flower?
Hers - but apart from that, all
* What is your favorite bird?
The swallow
* Who are your favorite prose writers?
At the moment, Anatole France and Pierre Loti
* Who are your favoite poets?
Baudelaire and Alfred de Vigny
* Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
* Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Phedre (crossed out) Berenice
* Who are your favorite composers?
Beethoven, Wagner, Shuhmann
* Who are your favorite painters?
Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt
* Who are your heroes in real life?
Monsieur Darlu, Monsieur Boutroux (professors)
* Who are your favorite heroines of history?
* What are your favorite names?
I only have one at a time
* What is it you most dislike?
My own worst qualities
* What historical figures do you most despise?
I am not sufficiently educated to say
* What event in military history do you most admire?
My own enlistment as a volunteer!
* What reform do you most admire?
(no response)
* What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Will power and irresistible charm
* How would you like to die?
A better man than I am, and much beloved
* What is your present state of mind?
Annoyance at having to think about myself in order to answer these questions
* To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
Those that I understand
* What is your motto?
I prefer not to say, for fear it might bring me bad luck.

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