September 10, 2008

Proust Questionnaire as Answered by Jane Austen

How might Jane answer the Proust Questionnaire?

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.

What is your greatest fear?
The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love.

What historical figure do you most identify with?
We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.

Which living person do you most admire?
My sister Cassandra.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle.

What is the trait you most despise in others?
Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.

What is your greatest extravagance?
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?

On what occasion do you lie?
Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
To look almost pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain for the first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.

Which living person do you most despise?
The Prince Regent

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"Love" and "money"

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
What wild imaginations one forms where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken!

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
Nobody who has not been in the interior of a family can say what the difficulties of any individual of that family may be. It is better that way.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My darling child, Pride and Prejudice.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
A single man in possession of a good fortune.

Who are your favorite writers?
Samuel Richardson, Cowper, Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
The girls... still prefer Don Juan; and I must say that I have seen nobody on the stage who has been a more interesting character than that compound of cruelty and lust.

What is your most treasured possession?
If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.

Where would you like to live?
Anywhere but Bath.

What is your most marked characteristic?
My height.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
General benevolence, but not general friendship, made a man what he ought to be.

What is your greatest regret?
There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.

If there is a Heaven what would you like to hear God say when you arrive?
I would not presume to put words in God's mouth, but perhaps "You have delighted them long enough."

(Inspired by Lux Lotus)

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