The Proust Questionnaire
smART MAGAZINE IS THRILLED TO LAUNCH THIS INTERVIEW SERIES USING MARCEL PROUST'S WIDELY ACCLAIMED PERSONALITY QUESTIONNAIRE!
Marcel Proust by
arah Alinia Ziazi
"It was in 1886, while only 14 years old, that the author who would later pen In Search of Lost Time, took up a friend’s challenge to fill out a formulaic set of queries from the book 'Confessions. An Album to Record Thoughts, Feelings, & c.” To the questions of this fashionable Victorian pastime, Proust responded with precocious elegance and subtlety - hallmarks of his later style. Asked his favourite virtue, he wrote: “All those that are not specific to any one sect; the universal ones.'
While significant cultural and intellectual figures such as Oscar Wilde, Karl Marx, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Paul Cézanne also left such confessions to posterity, it was Proust’s, in his refined form, that provided one of the most widely used personality questionnaires in history.
Psychoanalyst André Berge discovered and published it in 1924, highlighting the 'everlasting unease of the great psychologist who, in his subtle turns of phrase, strived to reflect the most elusive nuances of thought no matter what.' The document soon became known as 'Le Questionnaire de Proust.' Since the 1950s versions of the questionnaire, usually addressed to intellectuals and other public figures, appeared regularly and became a staple of upmarket European media. Norman Mailer, Fran Lebowitz, Joan Didion, Susan Sontag and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn have all provided their confessions." - Vik Hovanisian