Arthur Conan Doyle Fills Out the Questionnaire Made Famous By Marcel Proust (1899)


Note: click on the image for a larg­er ver­sion

Ah, the Proust Ques­tion­naire: does it reveal every­thing about one’s per­son­al­i­ty, or noth­ing at all? Pre­sum­ably Mar­cel Proust, who gave the ques­tion­naire its name by fill­ing it out so whole­heart­ed­ly, would­n’t have cared either way. French inter­view­er Bernard Piv­ot must have seen some use­ful­ness in it, since he applied its ques­tions so reg­u­lar­ly to guests on his lit­er­ary tele­vi­sion pro­gram Apos­tro­phes that it gained the sec­ond name of “Piv­ot Ques­tion­naire.” Open Cul­ture read­ers know James Lip­ton also adapt­ed a ver­sion on Inside the Actors Stu­dio. (See our pre­vi­ous post here.) And now, thanks to archivists at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin’s Har­ry Ran­som Cen­ter, we have Proust Ques­tion­naire answers from one more lumi­nary: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, cre­ator of Sher­lock Holmes.

Not that Conan Doyle responds with quite so much style as does Proust. His favorite qual­i­ties in a man? Man­li­ness. In a woman? Why, wom­an­li­ness. His favorite food and drink? Any­thing when hun­gry or thirsty — noth­ing when not. Favorite activ­i­ty? Work. This all has a cer­tain util­i­tar­i­an charm, but if you read the ques­tion­naire itself, you also find the par­tic­u­lar fla­vor of half-hid­den wit that Conan Doyle’s read­ers would expect. But we care about his respons­es, as we care about Proust’s, because of all the oth­er words they wrote. And lest we get caught up in ques­tion­naires, let us not for­get that Swan­n’s Way, the first vol­ume of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, turns one hun­dred this year.

via Slate

Relat­ed con­tent:

Famous Actors & Actress­es Answer Reveal­ing Ques­tions on Inside the Actors Stu­dio: A Com­pi­la­tion

Arthur Conan Doyle Dis­cuss­es Sher­lock Holmes and Psy­chics in a Rare Filmed Inter­view (1927)

Arthur Conan Doyle & The Cot­tin­g­ley Fairies: How Two Young Girls Fooled Sher­lock Holmes’ Cre­ator

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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