Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Proust Questionnaire

Answering lists of questions to illuminate one's ambitions was a popular pastime in the 19th Century. The Proust Questionnaire is a list of questions that is meant to divulge aspects of the subjects personality.  As a teen, French writer Marcel Proust wrote out answers to an English questionnaire in 1890. His written answers were discovered in the 1920's, and the renamed Proust Questionnaire has continued to amuse and instruct ever since. The list of questions have been whittled down and adjusted for use by several television talk show hosts including James Lipton for Inside the Actors Studio.

Edward Gorey was asked to take the questionnaire for Vanity Fair Magazine, and his answers were printed in the October 1997 issue. Mr. Gorey's answers are typically enigmatic.

Several examples:

What is your current state of mind?  Changeable.
Which living person do you most despise?  Where to begin...
What is your most marked characteristic? Dither.

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