Monday, February 9, 2009

Entry: Proust Questionnaire

If you're a highbrow snobby type like me (or if you've ever been bored and channel surfing on a weekend afternoon), you've probably seen Inside the Actor's Studio with James Lipton on Bravo. Or maybe you've seen Will Ferrell parodying Lipton on SNL. If you haven't done any of the above, perhaps you have the vivacity of imagination required to summon up an admittedly pretentious show where a middle-aged man with a goatee and glassy stare interviews various actors about their craft.

Are we all on the same page? Good.

One of the best-known aspects of this show is the ten short questions that Lipton asks his guests. This is commonly known as the Proust Questionnaire, named for the author Marcel Proust (aka the Guy that Steve Carrel's character was talking about in Little Miss Sunshine). The questionnaire is often misattributed to Proust; the truth is that they were a turn of the century fad, published as diary-like books known as confession albums. Proust was simply a fan of them; two manuscripts of these lists filled out by him have been found (and one was sold at auction for over 100,000 euros). The list of questions and his answers can be found in the article.

It's nice to see a writer of such great renown humanized (his favorite fictional hero is Hamlet); he liked to do little egocentric memes from time to time, just like the rest of us. On the other hand, how far would he have gone if allowed to indulge? Just imagine what his Livejournal might have looked like.

No comments: