The Proust Questionnaire

Several years ago, my buddy Shawn over at Everything and Nothing introduced me to the self-interview. The idea is to find interview questions asked of others in the media and apply them to yourself, answering them on your blog.

A few days ago, I was reading the blog of TJB reader and Twitter friend, Daniel T., who linked to Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire: 101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life. The description of the book reads:

The probing set of questions originated as a 19th-century parlor game popularized by contemporaries of Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that an individual’s answers reveal his true nature.

I’m not intending to answer the questions here and now, and probably not all at once. There are so many, and I’ve found myself giving them much more thought than memes usually provoke. Some of them might show up as the subjects of future LJ posts.

You can go to a link on the Vanity Fair Web site and answer them there, seeing how your answers compare to the “Luminaries,” or apparently even compare your answers to your Facebook friends.

Or if you want to use them to interview yourself, or maybe answer one or two of them on your own blogs or journals, the questions are:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
2. What is your greatest fear?
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
5. Which living person do you most admire?
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
7. What is your current state of mind?
8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
9. On what occasion do you lie?
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
11. Which living person do you most despise?
12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
16. When and where were you happiest?
17. Which talent would you most like to have?
18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
21. Where would you most like to live?
22. What is your most treasured possession?
23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
24. What is your favorite occupation?
25. What is your most marked characteristic?
26. What do you most value in your friends?
27. Who are your favorite writers?
28. Who is your hero of fiction?
29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
30. Who are your heroes in real life?
31. What are your favorite names?
32. What is it that you most dislike?
33. What is your greatest regret?
34. How would you like to die?
35. What is your motto?

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4 thoughts on “The Proust Questionnaire”

    1. I think just one of these questions is worth an entire blog entry. They’ve really been thought-provoking for me. So yeah, I see lots of future posts here and hope other people will use them, too.

  1. What a great idea! The Proust Questionnaire is my favorite part of Vanity Fair and now I’m beginning to wonder why it never occurred to me to try to answer the questions myself.

    1. The questions definitely lend themselves to self-examination. I didn’t realize this was a regular Vanity Fair feature. I could have been reading them all along!

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