Friday, June 23, 2006

After reading Stefanie's post on Proust I thought that I'd post the famous Proust Questionaire.

Here are Proust's answers at 7:

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? Meissonier

Your favorite musician? Mozart

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.

Seven years later, age 20:

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? Loving

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? Hamlet

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? Cleopatra

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.

Yes, 7 and 20. It almost doesn't seem real, that someone, let alone at such young and impressionable ages, could answer these questions with such perfection.

I'd post my responses, but then people may see me for who I really am and that may be better left unseen.


Dorothy W. said...

I am contemplating joining Stefanie in reading Proust this summer, and this post is tempting me further ...

Danielle said...


Stefanie said...

Wonderful Mike! His answers at 7 are truly amazing for one so young.

Spacewranglerize said...

No way a 7 year old wrote those answers!

Hang on - the Tooth Fairy is at the door!

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