The Proust Questionnaire: Dr. Dan Doll


Curated by Veronika Lee

Dr. Dan Doll is one of the most beloved members of the UNO English Department. A graduate of The University of Illinois with advanced degrees from Purdue University, he submitted his answers to Marcel Proust’s Questionnaire. Proust was a 19th century French essayist and novelist who developed this questionnaire as a teenager to learn more about friends and family who he thought were fascinating subjects. The questions originated from a popular Victorian parlor game. Vanity Fair magazine frequently uses Proust’s personality quiz to interview famous celebrities and past answers have been provided by David Bowie, Amy Poehler, John Cleese, Seth Rogan and countless others. For our purposes, we are using the quiz to get to know UNO personalities.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Reading Austen, Stephenson and Swift in the same weekend
  2. What is your greatest fear?  Blindness
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Despise is too strong: I wish I were more adventurous about trying new foods
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Failing to embrace their enthusiasms openly and wholeheartedly because of a fear of being uncool. Geek out.
  5. Which living person do you most admire? Barack Obama
  6. What is your greatest extravagance? Books. Is that an extravagance?
  7. What is your current state of mind? Loving my job and looking forward to the new semester
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Being tall
  9. On what occasion do you lie? Whenever necessary. I lie to students all the time, but out of love.
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance? Let’s not talk about the hair
  11. Which living person do you most despise? I despise no one; some make me less happy than others, but no despising.
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man? I know it’s two, but intelligence and integrity
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Intelligence and integrity
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? It’s possible I say “OK” rather often. OK?
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Too many answers. My daughter and my wife
  16. When and where were you happiest? Almost my daughter’s entire childhood
  17. Which talent would you most like to have? Ability to bake the perfect bread and to make the perfect fluffy French toast
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Worry less
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being Katy Doll’s dad
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A golden retriever
  21. Where would you most like to live? A college town with a population of 50,000 to 100,000
  22. What is your most treasured possession? A very battered copy of Ulysses
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Observing a dead class? 
  24. What is your favorite occupation? Reading
  25. What is your most marked characteristic? Good spirits, I hope
  26. What do you most value in your friends? Good talk
  27. Who are your favorite writers? Austen, Swift, Neal Stephenson
  28. Who is your hero of fiction? Miss Elizabeth Bennet
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with? John Adams
  30. Who are your heroes in real life? An overused word: those I admire are those once described as “guys with glasses,” who don’t have to be guys or wear glasses.
  31. What are your favorite names? Can’t separate them from the people I connect them with.
  32. What is it that you most dislike? The driving habits of many New Orleans drivers
  33. What is your greatest regret? Not many, honestly. Rooting for the Chicago Cubs?
  34. How would you like to die? Painlessly in my sleep
  35. What is your motto? It’s time to go to work

Photo courtesy of Alfredo Liverani via Flickr Creative Commons