The Sprout Questionnaire: A Weird Take on the Proust Questionnaire

Photograph of Marcel Proust

You may have seen this post in a different form but, after only a year (I don’t like to brag but I’m sure you can tell that I’m a speedy learner) I’m finally getting the hang of this website lark and I’m pretty sure my menus are now more or less in order. More or less. This should be the first one in the Sprout Questionnaire series but I haven’t worked out how to sort that bit. Professionalism abounds here. Anyhow, just before I corner my next victim for this series, I thought I should get a wee bit of explanation out there. Explanation, yes, but no guarantee it will make sense.

What, you may ask, is a Sprout questionnaire? Good question. It wasn’t always a Sprout questionnaire

. In it’s former guise on this blog, it was a Glasgow Take on the Proust Questionnaire.

But back to the beginning. The Proust Questionnaire started life as a parlour game. Confession albums or confidence albums were the Victorian equivalent of the personality and psychology tests that are all over the internet these days. It was thought to give a measure of the sensibilities, tastes and aspirations if the person who answered. When he was still a teenager, Marcel Proust answered a version of it and his candid handwritten answers were discovered after his death. Later, it was popularised in magazines and television and its origins misattributed to the writer but the name has stuck.

I tinkered with the questions, added one or two dubious refinements and found some victims. My original version was a Glasgow take on it only in so much as I was looking for willing Glaswegians to answer it as part of my series of posts about the city.

But nothing is sacred here. Recently, Proust went into the mixer and came out as Sprout. No relationship at all to small cabbage like vegetables, simply an anagram that made me smile. And while the questions no longer bare any resemblance to the Victorian parlour game, the answers are funny and revealing, and probably say more about the victim’s personality than the original.

Photo of Marcel Proust from  Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 bekijk toegang 2.24.01.04 Bestanddeelnummer 919-9566. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Netherlands licence.

Author: Helen M Taylor

Author of The Backstreets of Purgatory

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