The Proust Questionnaire — Book Edition

Inga Sempé Answers The Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition

By Inga Sempé November 22, 2013
Inga Sempé, Product Designer (Paris)
View Inga Sempé’s Book List

This November marks 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 Inga Sempé sent in response to the Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition:

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

2. Your favorite childhood book (or favorite childhood author):
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.

3. Your favorite book character:
Humbert Humbert, from Lolita.

4. Your favorite book title (because you like the sound of it):
Un balcon en forêt  (translated as “A Balcony in the Forest”) by Julien Gracq, but I never read it.

5. A book you could never finish:
Le Mâitre et Marguerite (The Master and Margarita) by Mikhail Bulgakov.

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:

8. A book you should have read but haven’t:
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust.

9. The best “book as object” you own (how it looks over what it says):
I Spy Mystery: A Book of Picture Riddles by Jean Marzollo; photographs by Walter Wick Riddles. 

10. Your reading speed: very slow, slow, moderate, fast, very fast:
Too fast, which needs to slow down.

11. While you read, are you a note-taker? If yes, where do you record your notes:
No I really don’t. I never felt like having a discussion with the writer.

13. The most expensive book you’ve ever bought (and, if you can remember, the price):
I never buy expensive books because I don’t take care of them at all.

14. If you could be any author:

15. If you are what you read, the book that best says who you are:
I am not what I read—that’s why I read.

16. Your favorite writer of the gender opposite yours:
There should be this question with a twist for women: “the female writer we prefer.” I prefer Jane Austen.

17. The last book you bought:
I almost never buy, I borrow.

18. Your favorite place to purchase books:
Secondhand bookshops.

19. The book you are currently reading:
Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola, a book that my son is studying at college.

20. The book you will read next:
Bête de cirque by Tiphaine Samoyault.

21. The current location of the book you will read next:
On my bedside table.

22. Your favorite format for books: paper or pixels:

24. A book that was particularly meaningful to, or highly recommended by, an acquaintance of yours:
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

25. If you have the chance to plan it, the last book you’ll read:
I am a bad planner.

View all Questionnaires.

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

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