Proust’s Questionnaire – 35 Questions Every Character Should Answer


At the end of the nineteenth century, when he was 13-years-old, he answered a questionnaire in an English-language confession album belonging to his friend Antoinette Felix-Faure, entitled ‘An Album to Record Thoughts, Feelings, etc.’.  In those days, answering lists like this was a popular past time. They revealed the tastes and aspirations of the taker.

The original manuscript of his answers was found in 1924. It was auctioned on 27 May 2003 for €102,000.

Marcel Proust’s questionnaire is one of the best-known interviews used in the media today. It is thoughtful, fun, and concise and it does a good job of showing the personality of the interviewee.

Vanity Fair runs a Proust Questionnaire in every issue of the magazine.

I think it is an excellent way for you to interview the most important characters in your novel or short story. They may tell you something you don’t already know.

35 Questions Made Famous by Marcel Proust

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
  2. What is your greatest fear?
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
  5. Which living person do you most admire?
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?
  7. What is your current state of mind?
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
  9. On what occasion do you lie?
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
  11. Which living person do you most despise?
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
  16. When and where were you happiest?
  17. Which talent would you most like to have?
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
  21. Where would you most like to live?
  22. What is your most treasured possession?
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
  24. What is your favourite occupation?
  25. What is your most marked characteristic?
  26. What do you most value in your friends?
  27. Who are your favourite writers?
  28. Who is your hero of fiction?
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
  30. Who are your heroes in real life?
  31. What are your favourite names?
  32. What is it that you most dislike?
  33. What is your greatest regret?
  34. How would you like to die?
  35. What is your motto?

Source for image

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Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson

© Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this post, read:

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  4. How do you find your writing voice?
  5. 13 Ways To Start A Story

This article has 5 comments

  1. Maryann Alee

    .

  2. Maryann Alee

    Well

  3. Susan

    What great timing, I am just about to interview my main character for my blog. Very interesting questions. Thank you

  4. Amanda Patterson

    I’m glad it helped, Susan.

  5. 1st Published 2001

    This sounds like a first date question list. Hahaha. I am not sure I know of anyone who can answer all of these questions but they certainly give one pause, don’t they?

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