Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Proust Scholar William C. Carter, On Marcel Proust’s 100th Death Anniversary
The parlour confession.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
How many people do you know who have actually read In Search of Lost Time in its entirety? Marcel Proust’s French novel, À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu, has seven volumes and more than a million words — the first volume completed 100 years in 2013. Entombed with the label of a classic, the book suffers from the undeserved reputation of being a tough read.
The works of US-based William C. Carter, possibly the most renowned scholar on the French novelist in the English-speaking world, help dispel the thick mist of supposed incomprehension that conceals Proust’s work from most of us. Author of Marcel Proust: A Life, Mr Carter has been hailed as “Proust’s definitive biographer” by the late literary critic Harold Bloom. Distinguished professor emeritus of French at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the professor is in the middle of a project of Proustian proportions — he is revising and annotating C.K. Scott Moncrieff’s landmark translation of In Search of Lost Time. Today is 18 November 2022, and so on the landmark occasion of Proust’s hundredth death anniversary, The Delhi Walla convinces Mr Carter to become a part of the Proust Questionnaire series in which citizens are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore our distinct experiences.
Your favorite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality.
My family call me Captain Optimism.
Your favorite qualities in a man.
Kindness and curiosity.
Your favorite qualities in a woman.
Kindness and curiosity.
Your chief characteristic.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
An awareness of others and the ability to put oneself in their
Your main fault
Your favorite occupation.
Your idea of happiness.
Being with those I love and sharing thoughts, ambitions,
Your idea of misery or what would be your greatest
Not to have had the parents that I had and not to have met
the people I love most.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Where would you like to live?
Where I do live, surrounded by most of my children,
grandchildren, and great friends.
Your favourite colour and flower.
Your favorite bird.
Your favorite prose authors
Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Iris Murdoch.
Your favorite poets.
Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Charles Baudelaire, Victor
Your favorite heroes in fiction.
Ulysses and Romeo.
Your favorite heroines in fiction.
Scarlett O’Hara (because she was an energetic optimist) and
Auntie Mame (because she knew how to have fun).
Your favorite composers.
Mozart, Beethoven, George Gershwin.
Your favorite painters.
Monet and Manet.
Your heroes/heroines in real life.
Helen Keller and Jimmy Carter.
What characters in history do you most dislike?
Adolph Hitler and his entire entourage.
Your heroines in World history.
Jeanne d’Arc and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Your favorite food and drink.
Seafood and bourbon.
Your favorite names.
Lynn, Josephine, Sarah, Susanna.
What do you hate the most?
Selfishness and meanness.
The military event you admire the most.
Any that end peacefully.
The reform you admire the most.
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
A great tenor voice.
How do you wish to die?
Quietly in my sleep.
What is your present state of mind?
Peaceful and eager to continue my work.
Faults for which you have the most tolerance.
Your motto in life.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.