Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Annie Ernaux, Gali Kebabiyan
The parlour confession.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
One of the world’s greatest living authors, French novelist Annie Ernaux is in our city to attend the Delhi Book Fair, in which France is the guest of honour. The 2022 Nobel laureate in literature agreed to be a part of The Delhi Walla’s Proust Questionnaire series in which citizens are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore our distinct experiences. Her answers were translated from French into English by Jayashri Sridharan.
Your favorite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality.
The desire for perfection.
Your favorite qualities in a man.
Your favorite qualities in a woman.
Your chief characteristic.
A memory that allows me to walk back in time like one does in a movie.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
The trust that they place in me.
Your main failing.
My not having told my parents often enough that I loved them.
Your favorite occupation.
Your idea of happiness.
I don’t have one, happiness is a surprise.
Your idea of misery or what would be your greatest misfortune?
Losing one of my sons or one of my grandchildren.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Where would you like to live?
Nowhere else other than where I currently live, in the suburbs of Paris.
Your favorite color and flower.
My favorite color is green and my favorite flower is the lilac.
Your favorite bird.
The robin that comes in winter to peck near the house.
Your favorite prose authors.
Flaubert, Charlotte Brontë, Proust, Virginia Woolf, Georges Perec.
Your favorite poets.
Victor Hugo, Rimbaud, Apollinaire, Eluard.
Your favorite heroes in fiction.
Your favorite heroines in fiction.
Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre, Scarlett O’Hara.
Your favorite composers.
Bach, Schubert, Ravel.
Your favorite painters.
Giotto, Gaspard-David Friedrich, Egon Schiele, Chirico, Dorothea Tanning.
Your heroes/heroines in real life.
All those who fight against hunger and persecution, who manage to survive in the worst possible conditions.
What characters in history do you most dislike?
Hitler, Franco, Pinochet.
Your heroines in World history.
Louise Michel, Anne Frank.
Your favorite food and drink.
Cheese and eggs – coffee with milk.
Your favorite names.
I don’t have any. It depends on the person whose name it is.
What do you hate the most?
Noise arising from human activities, vehicular traffic, air traffic, and noise created by machinery and other devices.
The military event you admire the most.
I do not admire any military event.
The reform you admire the most.
In historical order: the abolition of slavery, compulsory schooling for all children, legalizing abortion.
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with.
How do you wish to die?
While making love, even though it may be traumatic for the partner.
What is your present state of mind?
Faults for which you have the most tolerance
I am tolerant of almost all faults, except indifference towards others (humiliation, contempt).
Your motto in life.
A line from a song by Barbara: Il ne faut jamais baisser les yeux// L’indifférence vaut mieux (Never lower your eyes // it’s best not to care).