Long before Celebrity Interviews and decades before Twitter blurbs and Polls; likes and dislikes, teenage author, Marcel Proust, answered a series of questions asked by the Daughter of the Future Prime Minister – Felix Faure, while playing a parlor game.
The responses and question seemed normal at the time, but has since taken a life of its own.
Posthumously coined the Proust Questionaire, it has become a way for great luminaries to ponder life’s greatest notions – love; hope, happiness and even the essence of life itself. These questions are simple, yet revealing; and although on first grasp might look quotidian, a little introspection would reveal layers upon layers of sensibilities.
The Proust Questionaire remains a timeless reminder of the caprices, appeal, and innermost self of the creative spirit, and a tunnel through which masters and literary greats continue to whisper to us through the ages. Centuries later, the questions remain a direct, yet subtle probe of consciousness and complexities, usually part revealing and part funny.
When asked what his current state of mind was, David Bowie replied – ”pregnant,” and when Proust was asked where he would like to live, his reply was: “in the realm of the ideal, or rather, my ideal.”
Not known to allow themselves be penetrated, writers and creatives generally, are known for elaborate masks, built with beautiful wordplay and grand illusions, but we are at least given a fraction of the simple, yet profound intricacies of a brilliant mind and the strangeness that allows a person gaze into the unknown to create further unknowns.
This is how to question the creative at heart, and dreamers by rote.
We pose these questions to the author of our February book of the month, Amaka Azie.
- What is your idea of perfect happiness? Relaxing on my day off with a good book and a glass of wine.
- What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I’m too blunt. I tell it as it is, sometimes without tact. My husband keeps saying, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it that counts.” I’m learning.
- Which talent would you most like to have? The ability to read minds. Won’t that be great? To know what everyone is thinking? I could rule the world with that.
- For what fault have you most toleration? Tardiness. I’m sometimes late myself, so I can forgive lateness, as long as it comes with apologies.
- What virtue do you most esteem? Honesty. I dislike two-faced people.
- What is your idea of misery? Living one’s life to please others. My uncle Anozie says, “the true state of happiness is being oneself and not giving a (swear word) what people think.”
- What is your motto? Never give up.
- If not yourself, who would you be? The woman engaged to Idris Elba…I’m just joking. I won’t trade myself with anyone. I love myself far too much.
- What is your favourite colour and flower? Red. And Lilies.
- Who are your heroes in real life? My younger sister, Ogo. She never lets circumstances interrupt her zest for life. I admire her. My mum. She is ever optimistic. Her faith never wavers. I wish I could be more like her.
- Who are your heroes of fiction? Jack Bauer– All that stubbornness and zeal to save people’s lives. If I’m ever in trouble, I’ll want him on the case, that’s for sure!
- What is your favourite virtue? Generosity. Giving without expecting anything back. I admire people like Oprah Winfrey. She gives with enthusiasm. I want to tap into that spirit of open-handedness.
- What do you most appreciate in your friends? Honesty. I surround myself with friends who tell me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear.
- What is your greatest extravagance? I’m a gadget freak. I have three laptops and 3 tablets. I don’t know why I can’t stop buying them.
- What virtue do you deplore in yourself? Honesty. I’m too honest. Even when I should tactfully not be. I’m learning there are times to withhold my opinion to spare people’s feelings. It’s not always easy, but I’m getting better at it.
- What virtue do you most deplore in others? I don’t think self-righteousness is a virtue but some people do. I despise people who are judgmental of others because of either religion or personal achievements. I think everyone has a story, even the person who you believe is the scum of the earth, deserves to be heard before judgment.
- Which historical figure do you most identify with? Fela. I love how he spoke the truth without fear. He didn’t care how many times he got locked up. He criticised the government in his music boldly, and continued to do so till he died. I wish I could be as brave as he was.
- What qualities do you most like in a man? A supportive man. A man who knows when to listen and when to act. A man not intimidated by a bold, confident woman.
- What is your current state of mind? All I can think about now is the current novel I’m working on. I’ve been editing and re-editing. There is always something I want to change. At some point, I’m going to just have to let go and trust my instincts.
You can get her books through the following links:
- Amazon page: http://bit.ly/AmakaAzie
- Okadabooks: http://bit.ly/AmakaAzieOkadabooks
- Goodreads: https: : www.goodreads.com/amakaazie
You can also get in contact with her through her Facebook and Twitter handle: