Oct 22, 2007
Whether inspired by the feature film Little Miss Sunshine or Vanity Fair's “The Proust Questionnaire” - we can't remember where we came up with it - La Muse has decided to offer a slight spin on M. Proust's questionnaire. Perhaps Steve Carell's character Frank is the number one Proust scholar in the United States and perhaps Proust is the second greatest writer in history next to Shakespeare, but this does not interest us. What does interest us is what our previous attendees and those of you associated with La Muse think and feel when asked these questions.
So, every Friday, we will be uploading the answers of writers, artists, publishers, photographers etc. to BOTH Proust questionnaires, as Marcel was asked to fill out the questionnaires at two different social events in his life, not just one.
Here's his responses. The first were made when he was a sprightly 13 year old. (The questions came out of a party game at the birthday party of Antoinette Felix-Faure. They were put into Antoinette's birthday book):
What is, for you, the height of misery?
To be separated from Mama
Where would you like to live?
In the country of the Ideal, or, rather, of my ideal
Your ideal 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
For which faults do you have the greatest amount of indulgence?
To a life deprived of the works of genius
Who are the novelistic heroes whom you prefer?
Those of romance and poetry, those who are the expression of an ideal rather than an imitation of the real
Who is your favorite historical character?
A mixture of Socrates, Pericles, Mahomet, Pliny the Younger and Augustin Thierry
Your favorite heroines in real life?
A woman of genius leading an ordinary life
Your favorite heroines in real life?
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?
Your favorite musician?
The virtue you most prefer in men?
Intelligence, moral sense
The virtue you most prefer in women?
Gentleness, naturalness, intelligence
The virtue you prefer?
All virtues that are not limited to a sect: the universal virtues
Your preferred occupation?
Reading, dreaming, and writing verse
Whom 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.
Here are his responses at around the age of 20:
The principal trait of my character?
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?
The quality you most like in a woman?
A man's virtues, and frankness in friendship
What I appreciate the most in my friends?
Tenderness - provided they possess a physical charm which makes their tenderness worth having
My principle fault?
Lack of understanding; weakness of will
What is your favorite occupation?
My 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 might my greatest misfortune be?
Never to have known my mother or my grandmother
What would I 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.
The color I prefer?
Beauty lies not in colors but in thier harmony
The flower I like?
Hers - but apart from that, all
The bird I prefer?
My favorite prose authors?
At the moment, Anatole France and Pierre Loti
My preferred poets?
Baudelaire and Alfred de Vigny
My favorite hero of fiction?
My favorite heroines of fiction?
Phedre (crossed out) Berenice
My favorite composers?
Beethoven, Wagner, Schumann
My favorite painters?
Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt
My heroes in real life?
Monsieur Darlu, Monsieur Boutroux (professors)
My favorite historical heroines?
My favorite names?
I only have one at a time
What is it you most dislike?
My own worst qualities
Historical figures whom I scorn the most?
I am not sufficiently educated to say
The military feat that I admire the most?
My own enlistment as a volunteer!
The reform that I admire the most?
The gift of nature I would like to possess?
Will power and irresistible charm
How I would like to die?
A better man than I am, and much beloved
The present state of my 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 slogan?
I prefer not to say, for fear it might bring me bad luck.