Mental Floss

The Proust Questionnaire

Allison Keene
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The origin of the questionnaire

By no means the inventor of the form, Proust did manage to keep its popularity alive. A typical parlor game of the Belle Epoch that was said to help delve into the true expressions and aspirations of those answering it, Proust was first introduced to a form of the questionnaire entitled "An Album to Record Thoughts, Feelings, etc" when he was merely 13 years old. By responding once at that age and again to a slightly different version at the age of 20, Proust was able to chart his own growth and change, and allow us to get a deeper understanding of the man and his preferences. A complete list of his answers to both questionnaires can be found here.

Other versions

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More famously for us Americans is James Lipton's version used on Inside the Actor's Studio (where certainly the questions have never been asked with such intensity, I'm sure). A list of his condensed 10 Questions can be found here, and a very special version with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (of the UK Office and Extras) asking the questions to the indescribable Karl Pilkington is also available for free download.

Additionally, since July of 1993, Vanity Fair has published its own version of the questionnaire in its back pages as an interview piece for celebrities, questions from which can be found on this site.

Fun for the whole family

Bored on a rainy day with friends? Looking for something to journal about? Seeing whether your date is worth your time? The Proust Questionnaire is still an interesting way to get to know people better. Anyone willing to share a few of their own answers here?

Here are five questions to get you started...

1) Where would you like to live?
2) Who are your favorite characters in history?
3) Who are your heroes in real life?
4) What is it you most dislike?
5) What natural gift would you most like to possess?

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