Have you ever completed The Proust Questionnaire? Made famous by Marcel Proust, this was a common parlor game during the Belle Epoque and supposedly unveils the aspirations and thoughts of those answering it. There are two known sets of answers by Proust – the first was from the mid-1880s when he was around 13 and the latter, when he was 20 years of age.

I just had my first try at The Proust Questionnaire. Would be interesting to see what my answers would be 10 years down the road.Place des Vosges

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Taking photos, exploring a city on foot, having a stimulating conversation with someone, crisp and fresh air, immersing myself in good music, enjoying good Chinese tea
2. What is your greatest fear? Losing my memory
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Being selfish or self-centered
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Arrogance
5. Which living person do you most admire? My simple dad
6. What is your greatest extravagance? Handmade leather shoes that are easy on the eye and on my feet
7. What is your current state of mind? Tentative
8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Mine: Being meticulous. In general: Intelligence
9. On what occasion do you lie? So that I won’t hurt someone who I care for
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance? Nothing nowadays
11. Which living person do you most despise? No one comes to mind
12. What is the quality you most like in a man? Intelligence that is balanced with an open mind and common sense
13. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Generosity
14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Like
15. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Someone who told me one day that he didn’t love me anymore
16. When and where were you happiest? I don’t know. There are too many happy moments
17. Which talent would you most like to have? To draw well
18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? To be more spontaneous, worry less and be less self-conscious
19. What do you consider your greatest achievement? To date: Making my way to and living in Europe by my own means
20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Me again. If not, a tree that will give shelter and shade, as well as bring a smile to someone’s face when the leaves and flowers burst abloom in spring
21. Where would you most like to live? For now, Paris. Hong Kong comes a close second. In a cosy apartment with a window in the living room that looks over a lively street and has a little ledge on which I can sit and read a book or gaze at passers-by.
22. What is your most treasured possession? A gold-plated zipper key chain that my dad gave me when I was little
23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The day I sat on a window ledge, 10+ stories above ground
24. What is your favorite occupation? Whatever allows me to meet interesting people and with whom I’ll want to share what I know
25. What is your most marked characteristic? Physically, probably my voice
26. What do you most value in your friends? Honesty and candidness
27. Who are your favorite writers? Whoever captures my imagination – for instance, José Saramago, Peter Stamm…
28. Who is your hero of fiction? Sherlock Holmes
29. Which historical figure do you most identify with? No one
30. Who are your heroes in real life? My mum and dad
31. What are your favorite names? My Chinese name, which my mum picked for me: 以诗, which means “like a poem”. I also like Michael, Benjamin, Sophie and Toto-Chan
32. What is it that you most dislike? It’s a tie between irresponsibility and laziness
33. What is your greatest regret? Something that I cannot make public
34. How would you like to die? Happy
35. What is your motto? Don’t be content to merely survive, you must demand to live in a better world

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7 replies on “The Proust Questionnaire

  1. Oooh, your answers are fascinating. I love the Proust questionnaire. I haven’t taken it in a long time… maybe I should give it another try! (Too bad I can’t find my answers from the last time.)

    1. I had a bit of wine while I was filling it out. So may have a bit more candid than I usually might be. It’s a fun exercise no matter what and made me stop to think…

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