Q: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? A: Living in fear.Proust’s original manuscript, titled ‘by Marcel Proust himself’ wasn’t discovered until 1924 – two years after his death.
Decades later the French television host Bernard Pivot whose work inspired James Lipton’s Inside the Actor’s Studio saw in the questionnaire an excellent lubricant for his interviews and began administering it to his guests in the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1993 Vanity Fair resurrected the tradition and started publishing various public figures’ answers to the Proust Questionnaire on the last page of each issue.
In 2009 the magazine released Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire: 101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life (public library) — a charming compendium featuring answers by such cultural icons as Jane Goodall, Allen Ginsberg, Hedy Lamarr, Gore Vidal, Julia Child, and Joan Didion.
Among the most wonderful answers – equal parts playful and profound – are those by David Bowie — himself a vocal lover of literature — published in the magazine in August of 1998.