Drink to the health of old Marcel and find out who you are

I completed this a few years ago and decided to revisit it just to see how much I had changed – or not. I found that I had changed – and hadn’t. How’s that for enigmatic?

Named for long-winded writer Marcel Proust (whom nobody has ever actually read in his entirety) and long a feature of the magazine Vanity Fair (the journal that sometimes lives up to its pretentious expectations but mostly doesn’t).

Anyway. Give it a try it’s both fun and a little therapeutically self-revalatory.

Proust Questionnaire 

Part I


What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Isolation and  being left with nobody with whom to share my thoughts, passions, joys and fears.

Where would you like to live?

Either where I am living now, or on the island Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, Annecy, France, or Bath, England.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Being able to express myself at all levels of my being; being in love with someone who loves me equally; making love with that same someone. Oh, and good health.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent? Any self-destructive vice but only if the person is actually doing something realistic to change his or her behavior. Or, if the person has sufficient intelligence, charm and talent to override his/her transgressions. The latter applies to Hunter S. Thompson and Dylan Thomas, but not to Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?

Long John Silver, Inspector Morse, Jean Valjean, Calvin’s wise tiger Hobbes.

Who are your favorite characters in history? (These responses don’t always mean I like them, only that I find them colorful and interesting)

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Henry VIII, Huey Long, Voltaire, Cesare Borgia, Napoleon, N.S. Kruschev, James Cook


Who are your favorite heroines in real life?

Edith Cavell, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, Florence Nightingale, Ruth Ellis (the last woman to be hanged in Britain who was hanged in 1955 mainly because she was from the wrong side of the tracks).

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? Dolores Price in Wally Lamb’s ‘She’s Come Undone’, Judith Hearne, Jane Eyre, Mrs. Peggoty

Your favorite painter? Van Gogh, JMW Turner, Modigliani, (some) Salvador Dali, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper.

Your favorite musician? Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Booker T. Jones, Otis Redding, Bryan Ferry, Fats Waller, Louis Prima (this could go on and on, so I won’t).

The quality you most admire in a man? Courage, intelligence, wit, honesty.

The quality you most admire in a woman? Courage, intelligence, wit, honesty, sensitivity, candor, beauty,(outer and inner)

Your favorite virtue? Honesty.

Your favorite occupation? What I did (and sometimes still do) journalism.

Who would you have liked to be? A published and respected author, a painter.

Part II

Your most marked characteristic? Sense of humor

What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty

What is your principle defect? Insecurity

What is your favorite occupation? Writing/teaching

What is your dream of happiness? To have the financial resources and time freedom to travel back to places I love and to explore new ones.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes? To lose a loved one due to death or abandonment.

What would you like to be? Pretty much what I am only younger.

What is your favorite color? Blue in all its shades and hues.

What is your favorite flower? The rose.

What is your favorite bird? The owl.

Who are your favorite prose writers? Orwell, Dickens, Twain, Waugh, Huxley, Richler, Margaret Laurence, G. Greene, Hunter S. Thompson, HL Mencken, etc.

Who are your favorite poets? Shakespeare, Blake, Auden, Spender, W. Owen, Coleridge, Keats, Dickinson, P. Larkin, etc.

Who are your favorite composers? Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, Elgar, Khatchaturian, etc.

Who are your heroes in real life? I don’t go in much for hero worship, as they tend to have feet of clay. I am most inspired by those ‘little’ people who do nasty dog work to help others, but go unheralded. Avoidance of publicity and fawning are marks of true heroism in my esteem.

Who are your favorite heroines of history? See ‘heroes’ above.

What are your favorite names? I don’t really have any, though there are some names I dislike more than others.

What is it you most dislike? Dishonesty, arrogance, self-importance, cruelty of all kinds, crudity, bigotry, betrayal, religious fundamentalism, moodiness, and personal illness.

What historical figures do you most despise? Oh, the usual, Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Ceausescu (shoot the bastard! Oh righ, they did), Catherine de Medici, and about 70 percent of all politicians of any stripe in any country.

What event in military history do you most admire? The courage and determination shown by Londoners in the Battle of Britain.

What reform do you most admire? Universal suffrage and the liberation of all subject peoples at any time anywhere.

What natural gift would you most like to possess? Wisdom.

How would you like to die? In my bed, minus pain, at a very advanced age.
What is your present state of mind? OK – just OK.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent? Those who fail in a quest but are detemined to try again.

What is your motto? If nothing changes, nothing changes.



6 responses to “Drink to the health of old Marcel and find out who you are

  1. Wow…so what changed for you between the first time you did this and the present?? Just curious…

  2. Was there a reason you didn’t give your favorite fictional heroines? Sidney Carton was my first love, or maybe Robin Hood — I can’t recall which came first, but both were immensely formative.

  3. Great answers.


  4. Sorry I missed fictional heroines, Susan. Don’t know how that happened. But, ta-da, I have recitified that gaffe.

  5. So, no favourite fictional heroines??

    Interesting answers. I’ll have to do this sometime.

  6. Damn, I edited the blog and added my fictional heroines that somehow had inadvertently been omitted the first time around. And once again they are gone. I think the gods are telling me something and I don’t like it. They include Jane Eyre, Dolores from the Wally Lamb novel She’s Come Undone, and Judith Hearne from the Brian Moore novel, among others.

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