Monday, July 4, 2011

Proust's Questionnaire: A Party Game

Marcel Proust, novelist, 1871 - 1922, believed that to understand others, we must understand ourselves. Over time, we change in many ways, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Proust wrote a questionnaire we can each use for ourselves, and with others. If writing a novel, this questionnaire is useful to ask about characters.
Here are the questions---

What is your current state of mind?                                                  What do you most fear?
What do you most dislike about your appearance?                   What is your favorite occupation?
What do you consider the most over-rated virtue?                    Which living person do you most admire?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?                           Who is your favorite fictional hero?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?     What is your most favored possession?
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?       Who are your real heroes?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?                    When and where were you happiest?
What is the quality you most admire in a man?                            What is your idea of perfect happiness?
What is the quality you most admire in a woman?                      What is your most obvious characteristic?
What do you value most in your friends?                                          What is the trait you most dislike in yourself?
If you were to die and come back as a person or animal  what do you think it would be?      
If you could choose an object to come back as, what would you choose?            
What is the trait you most dislike in others?                                      Where else would you like to live?
What historical figure do you most identify with?                         What is your greatest extravagance?
Who has been the greatest influence on you?                                   What is your favorite journey?
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?                      On what occasion do you lie?
Which natural talent would you like to have as a gift?                What is it you most dislike?
For which fault do you have the most toleration?                          Where would you like to die?
Which military event do you admire most?                                       What is your favorite bird?
If you could have been anyone in history, who would it have been?                   What is your motto?
What are your favorite names?                                                                Who is your favorite hero in a novel?
 What is your favorite food and drink?                                                  Who is your favorite heroine in a novel?
What is your favorite color?                                                                       Who is your favorite composer?
What is your favorite flower?                                                                    Who is your favorite painter?
Who is your favorite poet?                                                                          Who is your favorite author?

If they make you smile,you can answer questions like these interactively at this Vanity Fair site, and find out who you resemble from your answers.

At this site, your answers will be preserved at the New Library of Alexandria.

Of course, they make terrific questions to answer at your leisure, and share with a friend, or ask at a party, if you dare. If nothing else, these probing, personal questions will make you think privately about the lives we live and have lived in the past, and the hopes we have for the future.

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