The Proust Questionnaire — Book Edition

Stanley Abercrombie Answers The Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition

By Stanley Abercrombie December 3, 2013
Stanley Abercrombie, Architecture and Interior Design Editor and Author (Sonoma, CA)
View Stanley Abercrombie’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 Stanley Abercrombie sent in response to the Proust Questionnaire—Book Edition:

1. Of these, your reading preference: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama:
Poetry. The current book of poems I’m reading is Sandra Beasley’s I Was the Jukebox.

2. Your favorite childhood book (or favorite childhood author):
I grew up obsessed with the Hardy Boys’ mystery series. I remember thinking myself much too grown-up for anything from Disney.

3. Your favorite book character:
Mrs. Ramsay in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. I was devastated when Woolf killed her off mid-book.

4. Your favorite book title (because you like the sound of it):
An Italian book about Wright’s Fallingwater has the magical title La Casa sulla Cascata. It sounds like a waterfall.

5. A book you could never finish:
Moby Dick.

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:
A copy of Finnegans Wake I have been dipping into for half a century. Its margins are filled with notes.

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

9. The best “book as object” you own (how it looks over what it says):
I think Rizzoli’s series of Richard Meier monographs is exemplary—one reason being its design by Massimo Vignelli; I think volume 5 is the latest. Among older books, I treasure my copies of Peter Blake’s Marcel Breuer: Sun and Shadow (1955) and Edgar Kaufmann Jr.’s Frank Lloyd Wright: Drawings for a Living Architecture (1959).

10. Your reading speed: very slow, slow, moderate, fast, very fast:
Very slow.

13. The most expensive book you’ve ever bought (and, if you can remember, the price):
I paid $5,500 for the 34-volume Grove Dictionary of Art. That’s $161 per volume, but worth every penny.

20. The book you will read next:
On my pile of books to read are: Wunderkammer by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien; Furniture by Architects edited by Driss Faith; Art Studio America edited by Hossein Amirsadeghi; and West Coast Modern by Zahid Sardar. I’m also going to reread Willa Cather’s A Lost Lady.

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

23. If you could have written any book:
In Search of Lost Time.

View all Questionnaires.

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

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