From an early age, Proust kept a journal titled "Confessions. An Album to Record Thoughts, Feelings, Etc." The first questionnaire was penned in 1886 and he went back again and again to re-answer the questions as he aged. Its fascinating to see how his reflections shift as he grows older. The questionnaire became an interesting way to chart his coming of age. The Proust Questionnaire remains one of the most popular methods of interview used by media throughout the world.
There are many variations on the famous Proust Questionnaire - one of my favorites being the final question and answer session on "Inside the Actor's Studio". I always imagine what I would answer if James Lipton asked me "What is your favorite word?" My answer changes all the time, but currently its "frisée" - you know, that stuff in salads. When I asked Malte, my sweet cross dressing German friend, "What is your favorite word?" he said with out hesitation, "Sussussudio". Who doesn't love Phil Colins? I recently got my hands on a copy of the original Proust Questionnaire and since James Lipton won't be knocking on my door any time soon, I thought I'd give it a whirl. Below is a photo of the original.
Your favorite virtue?
Your favorite qualities in a man?
Inner-calm, humor, intelligence, smooth skin, imagination and a pleasant odor.
Your favorite qualities in a woman?
Creativity, kindness, intelligence, nice eyebrows, humor and a wide open laugh.
Your favorite occupation?
Your chief characteristic?
Your idea of happiness?
Life with my husband and the perfect dirty martini.
Your idea of misery?
Incurable body odor and unrelenting humidity.
Your favorite color and flower?
Peacock blue and Sweet Peas.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Someone with amazing metabolism and a safe, unlimited source of income.
Where would you like to live?
Portland OR, Scotland, The Loire Valley or Tuscany.
Your favorite prose authors?
Lorrie Moore, Steinbeck, Henry Miller, Marquez and Virginia Woolf
Your favorite poets?
Shakespeare, Nikki Giovanni, Rumi and Neruda
Your favorite composers and painters?
Shostakovitch, Chopin, Picasso, Gauguin, Klimt, Goya, Sargent
Your favorite heroes in real life?
Bill Moyers, Jimmy Carter, MLK,
Your favorite heroines in real life?
Margaret Sanger and Mom
Your favorite heroes in fiction?
Robin Hood and Atticus Finch
Your favorite heroines in fiction?
Viola from "Twelfth Night"
Your favorite food and drink?
Sushi and Pepsi.
Your favorite names?
Matilda, Viola, Constance, Henry, Walker, Charlie
Your pet aversion?
Your biggest flaw?
Over-eating and occasional theft (I used to steal chap sticks from the drug store when I was a kid.)
What characters in history do you most dislike?
Those that tortured, raped and committed war crimes against humanity.
The military deed that you most admire?
What is your present state of mind?
Alert and content.
For what fault have you the most toleration?
Your favorite motto?
Love is all you need or eat dessert first - I have a hard time deciding.
How would you like to die?