The Proust Questionnaire, named for the celebrated French author Marcel Proust, appears every month in Vanity Fair magazine. Questions range from “What living person do you most admire?”to “What is your current state of mind?”to “Who are your favorite writers?” The comprehensive list of 35 queries is designed to reveal your fundamental essence. Depending upon the person Vanity Fair is scrutinizing, answers can be painfully honest or howlingly sarcastic.
Using the Proust Questionnaire, we decided to ask our staff members to answer the following: “Which historical figure do you most identify with?” All responses are anonymous, but if you are a regular IJN reader you can probably guess a few.
1. “Abraham Lincoln. He stood for freedom, fairness, tolerance and hope. And he was very handsome.”
2. “Moshe Chaim Luzzato. He was a great spirit, thinker and writer in many styles.”
3. “Idon’t. I look ahead. I never look back.”
4. “Laura Ingalls Wilder. She was a survivor, an adventurer, had strength of character and was loyal to her family and her dog.”
5. “King David. He was a poet and a leader who was also flawed.”
6. “Queen Elizabeth I. She said, ‘I would rather be a beggar and single than a queen and married,’ but she was a romantic at heart.”
7. “Florence Nightingale. She fundamentally changed the role of nursing in hospitals and on the battlefield.”
The IJN staff is a real mix.
Try administering the Proust Questionnaire at your next party or during the Shabbat meal. The answers may surprise you. Or not.
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