The Proust Questionnaire — Book Edition

Angus Hyland Answers The Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition

By Angus Hyland December 12, 2013
Angus Hyland, Graphic Designer: Pentagram (London)
View Angus Hyland’s Book List

This November marked the 100th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of Marcel Proust’s opus, In Search of Lost Time (A la recherche du temps perdu), originally known in English as Remembrance of Things Past. To honor the occasion, we developed the Designers & Books version of the eponymous Proust Questionnaire, which we’ve sent out to various contributors and friends. Rather than including the questions from the original that asked about a wide array of “thoughts and feelings,” our adaptation focuses solely on the respondent’s relationship to books.

View the complete questions asked in The Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition

Here are the answers Angus Hyland sent in response to the Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition:

1. Of these, your reading preference: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama:

2. Your favorite childhood book (or favorite childhood author):
The Wind in the Willows. The first book I read in one sitting. I have such a vivid memory of finally discovering the joy of reading books.

3. Your favorite book character:
Emma. Jane Austen predicted that Emma would be “a character whom no one but me will much like.” Not so. She’s such a bright and independent optimist albeit mixed with the stubborn vanity of someone used to having her own way. Besides, I have a soft spot for pretty and well-meaning posh girls.

4. Your favorite book title (because you like the sound of it):
Tender Is the Night.

5. A book you could never finish:
In Search of Lost Time.

6. A book you will never start:
Finnegans Wake—utter gobbledygook.

7. If for some reason it turned out that you could save one and only one book from among those you own, which would it be:
Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination or Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady. Whichever was first at hand and whether I was in a Gothic panic or a more reflective mood.

8. A book you should have read but haven’t:
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for 35 years.

9. The best “book as object” you own (how it looks over what it says):
The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Knopf, first edition).

10. Your reading speed: very slow, slow, moderate, fast, very fast:
Slow—my wife would say, very slow.

11. While you read, are you a note-taker?

12. Your most idiosyncratic reading habit:
Dog-earing the pages. Very bad form I know, but I do it nonetheless.

13. The most expensive book you’ve ever bought (and, if you can remember, the price):
Bill Brandt: Perspective of Nudes (1st Edition, 1961).

14. If you could be any author:
Robert Louis Stevenson or Hergé. Wouldn’t it be fun to have the skill to write a great adventure or two and even better to be able to draw them?

15. If you are what you read, the book that best says who you are:
Any book with Bertie Wooster or Bingo Little as the central character. I empathize with their sense of bafflement about life.

16. Your favorite writer of the gender opposite yours:
Jane Austen.

17. The last book you bought:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

18. Your favorite place to purchase books:
Sadly, Amazon.

19. The book you are currently reading:
Harvest by Jim Crace.

20. The book you will read next:
The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock and Fernette Eide.

21. The current location of the book you will read next:
Bedside table.

22. Your favorite format for books: paper or pixels

23. If you could have written any book:
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Short and clever.

24. A book that was particularly meaningful to, or highly recommended by, an acquaintance of yours:
Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse. I love this book and I love the person who recommended to me. It’s powerful combination.

25. If you have the chance to plan it, the last book you’ll read:
Emma—a happy ending.

View all Questionnaires.

Also see “Celebrating a Proust Anniversary with The Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition.”

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