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Perhaps the most famous questionnaire in history is Proust's list of questions. It is a list of questions designed to help you get to know yourself. To come to a better understanding of yourself. In this post you'll find an overview of the questions of 'his' famous questionnaire.

The Questions from Proust Questionnaire
 

Origin of the Proust Questionnaire

The Proust questionnaire is a list of questions about your personality, your character. The questionnaire is named after the famous writer Marcel Proust, who lived from 1871 to 1922. This set of questions is - due to Proust's French origin - also called Questionnaire de Proust.

It is sometimes thought that he invented the questions himself, but that is not the case.

Proust actually answered the questions in an existing confessional album written by his girlfriend Antoinette. Nowadays, we would probably call this a friend's book. They were booklets for describing your "thoughts, feelings, etc.". This kind of booklets - often with the same questions - had been used for years before Proust started answering the questions.

The list of questions became famous because of the original answers Proust gave to the questions at a young age. At least, this is often given as a reason. Whether this is really the case is difficult to establish. What may also have played a role is that Antoinette was the daughter of the future president of France. And of course, Proust later enjoyed fame as a writer.

The questionnaire itself was later often used to interview famous people. Often, this was a modified questionnaire.

The different questionnaires of Proust

The questions on the questionnaire are intended to give insight into what you feel, how you think, what you love, what you consider important, etc. The answers to these questions require self-examination. This makes the questions - according to the literature - sometimes difficult to answer. But at the same time, they do provide insight into what someone is really like.

There are several versions of the questionnaire.

  • Proust's first list of questions and answers dates from 1885/1886. These questions came from an English-language questionnaire, which Proust answered in French. Proust was then 14 years old.
  • The second set of answers dates from 1891/1892. Here it was a French friend's book of questions. This second set of questions has partly the same questions, but also partly different questions. Proust was 20 years old when he answered the questions.
  • In 2018, a third questionnaire was found by a Parisian bookseller. Proust answered these questions in June 1887. He was thus 15 years old at the time. Which questions are in this third questionnaire I could not find out.

 

The questions from Proust

Below are the questions from the first questionnaire with questions and answers. This is the list that - as far as I can see - is used the most. I have translated and sometimes adapted the questions to concepts that are now more common:
 

What is your favourite character trait?
What are your favourite qualities in a man?
What are your favourite qualities in a woman?
What is your most important quality?
What do you value most in your friends?
What is the biggest mistake you have made?
What is your favourite activity?
What is your idea of happiness?
What is your idea of misery?
If you could not choose yourself, who would you want to be?
Where would you like to live?
What is your favourite colour and flower?
Who are your favourite (prose) authors?
Who are your favourite poets?
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Who are your favourite heroines in fiction?
Who are your favourite painters and composers?
Who is your favourite painter?
Who are your favourite heroes in real life?
Who are your favourite heroines in real life?
Which people from history do you dislike the most?
Who are your heroines from world history?
What is your favourite food and drink?
What are your favourite names?
What do you hate the most?
Which characters from world history do you hate the most?
Which military event do you admire the most?
What reform do you most admire?
What natural talent would you like to have?
How would you like to die?
What is your current state of mind?
Which mistake do you have the most tolerance for?
What is your favourite motto?


I think the questionnaire can still be used today. Most of the questions can be a great stepping stone to a good conversation over a meal, as a question thread or to use during a speed date or blind date. In any case, my experiences are positive.

Although the question about someone's favourite military event often leads to some confusion 😁.

My favourite questions? The last four.