Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Proust Questionnaire

[Galley proof of Swann's Way, sold by Christie's in 2000. The image is in the public domain and is from Wikimedia Commons.]

I'm reading "In Search of Lost Time" for the first time in over 20 years and this time I hope to finish the entire thing. The secret to this plan is not to think of it as work but as a very long visit to 19th century Paris. With no danger of consumption, cholera or being run over by a runaway horse and carriage. Also, the novel is very beautiful and often funny, and most importantly it deals with reality.

Have you ever done the Proust Questionaire? Of course he did not write it but most famously took it--several times. There are many versions. Here is my latest attempt.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Waking up on a Greek island with no plans for the day.

What is your greatest fear? A long and fatal illness.

What historical figure do you most identify with? El Greco.

Which living person do you most admire? Two very close to me.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Taking petty behavior by others to heart.

What trait do you most deplore in others? Manipulative behavior.

What is your greatest extravagance? Travel.

On what occasion do you lie? By omission: Daily. By commission: Only when asked to comment on a dish of food or article of clothing.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? My nose is crooked.

What is your favorite journey? Driving the road from Hania to Paleochora, Crete.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Modesty.

Which living person do you most despise? Not just one--a group of reigning rulers.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Wonderful!”

What is your greatest regret? Not to have been a working artist.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? I hope we will grow old together.

When and where were you happiest? Probably as a boy, walking on a country road, looking towards the future.

Which talent would you most like to have? To play many musical instruments.

What is your current state of mind?Alert.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would be less reactive.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? They would be less reactive.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be? Neither. It’s a horrible conceit.

If you could choose what or who to come back as, what would it be? See above.

What do your consider your greatest achievement? Surmounting fear.

What is your most treasured possession? My cat, Manoli.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Bitterness of heart.

What is your most marked characteristic? People say I’m very observant.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Warmth, intelligence, a rugged simplicity.

What is the quality you most admire in a woman?Intelligence, humor, compassion.

What do you most value in your friends? Detachment.

Who are your favorite writers? Plato, Shakespeare, Austen, Baudelaire, Cavafy, Whitman, Elizabeth Bishop.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction? The perfectly balanced and unnamed narrators of many 19th century novels.

Who are your heroes in real life? My grandmother--my father’s mother.

What are your favorite names? For a man: Nikolaos. For a woman: Maria.

What is it that you most dislike? Cowardice in those in power.

How would you like to die? I would like to float upward and into heaven on Aug 15, 2059, but I doubt this will happen.

What is your motto? I change it frequently. Some day I will settle on one.

4 comments:

Mediterranean kiwi said...

hi sifi, i am so glad you relate to my statement that i am cretan. thank you

Mariam said...

I filled it out. I loved your answers!


What is your idea of perfect happiness? Not a single worry in the world
What is your greatest fear? Not living to see grandchildren

Which living person do you most admire? Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Holding a grudge.

What trait do you most deplore in others? Lying.

What is your greatest extravagance? Shopping

On what occasion do you lie? By omission: Daily. By commission: hmmm I don't lie, just leave things out when dealing with parents

What do you most dislike about your appearance? My love handles

What is your favorite journey? Walking around Christmas time in Ukiah to my uncles Bar and appreciating nature


Which living person do you most despise? No one


Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Believe. I always say "can you believe it"

What is your greatest regret? Not saving more money


What or who is the greatest love of your life? My dad
When and where were you happiest? Listening to music and laying down


Which talent would you most like to have? Playing the guitar
What is your current state of mind?slow, tired, sick


If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? To not take things personal all the time


If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? They would be more open-minded


If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be? A Celeb like Jolie who returns good deeds
If you could choose what or who to come back as, what would it be? Angelina Jolie or Oprah


What do your consider your greatest achievement? Finishing college

What is your most treasured possession? Don't have one


What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Jealousy


What is your most marked characteristic? Very out-going and social
What is the quality you most like in a man? Compassion, good listener, caring, smart
What is the quality you most admire in a woman? same
What do you most value in your friends? Good listeners, good advice

Who are your favorite writers? Shakespeare, Aldoux Huxley, gregor Mendel

Who are your heroes in real life? My dad


What are your favorite names? Jasmir, Bella, Vincent

What is it that you most dislike? Meat

How would you like to die? Don't think about it

What is your motto? Where there is a will, there is a way. and Life is too short, here today, gone tomorrow.

Sifi said...

@Mariam--thanks! Anybody else want to give it a shot? BTW I am still very much enjoying Swann's Way and expect to be reading the continuing saga for many months to come. Caio babies...

Mediterranean kiwi said...

so glad to hear you're well, and all the best for christmas!