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English literature memory work

          Trivia Quiz for “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Trivia Quiz for The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 9/25/22

With answers below

A. The Journey

1. Duration and Motivation. Multiple reasons lie behind the trip undertaken by Stevens. Which one of the following is not cited as a reason by Stevens in his narration?

a. employer’s offer to pay for gas                  

b. visit to interview potential employee                    

c. no one to serve at Darlington Hall     

d. potential romance              

e. only 5-6 days

2. Landscapes of the Mind. Stevens reveals much of his psychology in reflections on the English countryside. Which one of the following is not from Ishiguro’s novel?

a. “I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart.”

b.  There were “long stones that stood on end, balancing themselves in a queer, miraculous way.”

c. “What is pertinent is the calmness… its sense of restraint.”

d. “While speeding along between large open fields … or else steering carefully through marvelous little villages … I found myself yet again turning over certain recollections from the past.”

B. The Memories that Reveal the Self

3. Maxims. The Remains of the Day includes numerous judgments and lessons on life. Which one of the following is not spoken by Stevens?

a. “By the very nature of a witticism, one is given very little time to assess its various possible repercussions before one is called to give voice to it, and one gravely risks uttering all manner of unsuitable things if one has not first acquired the necessary skill and experience.”

b. “The sad fact is that long-continued, pleasant normality becomes a bore.”

c. “For our generation, professional prestige lay most significantly in the moral worth of one’s employer.”

d. “There is one situation and one situation only in which a butler … may feel free to unburden himself… when he is entirely alone.”

4. A lofty, yet limited vocabulary: a sign of moral rectitude or rote thinking? Certain key words recur in Stevens’s narration. Which one does not run through The Remains of the Day?

a. dignity        

b. professional                       

c. restraint                  

d. error           

e. banter

f. loyalty                    

g. love            

h. role             

i. distinguished          

j. triumph

C. The Enigma of Other People

5. What one crucial moment captures the dynamic between Stevens and Miss Kenton?

a. The day she interviewed Winston Churchill in the library, contrary to the wishes of Stevens.

b. The morning they shared cocoa together in the quiet kitchen, while plotting a joke on the cook.

c. The night her aunt died, when he stood listening outside her room in the hall, but did not knock to offer condolences.

d. Their final decision to run away together to start a new life in South America!

6. Lord Darlington’s infamous career. As Stevens mulls over his past, the reader gleans increasingly unpleasant details of Lord D’s fall from favor. Which one of the following does not apply to Lord Darlington?

a. he used his home to conduct secret events that aided Hitler’s rise

b. he was a womanizer with several children he refused to acknowledge or help

c. he was a Nazi sympathizer                        

d. he forced Stevens to fire Jewish employees

7. Stevens, Sr.: the Archetypal Suffering Father? Readers of Balzac may see similarities between this father and Père Goriot. Which one of the traits does not appear in Ishiguro’s story?

a. a series of embarrassing humiliations       

b. an anonymous burial in a pauper’s cemetery

c. a bare garret room              

d. an absent wife        

e. a deathbed scene with little emotion                     

f. a cerebral hemorrhage                                

g. stilted relations with family

8. Tragi-comic asides. Stevens is enlisted to undertake the sexual education of a young man, Mr. Cardinal, at one point. What one phrase does Lord D. not proffer, to request this service?

a. “You are familiar, I take it, with the facts of life.”

b. “Sir David has been attempting to tell his son the facts of life for the last five years.”

c. “Be sure to remind him about consent, and treating women with respect.”

d. “Sir David finds the task rather daunting.”

e. “I’m terribly busy.”

f. “Be an awful lot off my mind.”

g. “Just convey the basic facts and be done with it.”

9. A chance encounter with Harry Smith challenges Stevens’s view of dignity and citizenship. What one phrase does Harry Smith not say in support of his views?

a. “There’s no dignity to be had in being a slave.”

b. “We owe it to the lads.”

c.  “The likes of you and I will never be in a position to comprehend the great affairs of today’s world.”

10. When Stevens is asked by a smalltown doctor, “You aren’t a manservant of some sort, are you?” his reaction is (choose one):

a. embarrassment                  

b. relief                      

c. shame                     

d. indignation

ANSWERS

1. d.

2. b. (That quote is from Daphne Dumaurier, Jamaica Inn.)

3. b. (That quote is from Sōseki Natsume, I Am a Cat.)

4. g. (“Love” is rarely mentioned in this work).

5. c.

6. b.

7. b.

8. c.  (That quote does not appear in Ishiguro’s novel; it was invented for the quiz.)

9. c. (Stevens voices that opinion, not Harry Smith.)

10. b.

Categories
cats humor wisdom Zen philosophy

Trivia Quiz for “I Am a Cat” by Sōseki Natsume (1906)

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 8/28/22, with answers below

A. Connections to European Literature

1. On Names. Like many English novelists, Sōseki Natsume chose funny and sometimes allegorical names for his fiction. Which one of the following is not a character in I Am a Cat?

a. Mr. Sneaze             

b. Baby-dear              

c. Daft Bamboo         

d. Utter Aimlessness

e. Opula Goldfield                 

f. Lancelot Yore

2. Social Commentary. Similar to Jonathan Swift and other satirists, Sōseki’s feline narrator casts a sardonic eye on his world. Which one of the following is not a target?

a. poets           

b. businessmen          

c. women       

d. academics (grad students and professors)

e. the queen                            

f. Zen Buddhists                    

g. baseball players

3. Genre and structure. Sōseki’s knowledge of the early English novel allowed him a wealth of options for form, even if his work does not correspond to what is now the dominant paradigm (i.e. nineteenth-century works by Dickens, Tolstoy or Balzac). Which one of the following literary devices is not adopted in I Am a Cat?

a. a tight, chronological sequence of events from birth to adulthood

b. a loose, meandering sequence of observations on topical issues

c. an ironic first-person narrator who recounts dialogues overheard, apparently verbatim

d. a voyeuristic narrator who sees (and tells) things that others overlook or ignore

e. All of the above are used in I Am a Cat.

4. Maxims. As in many other works we’ve read, I Am a Cat is peppered with pithy quotes on life. Which one of the following is not from Sōseki’s novel?

a. “By the infinite flexibility of interpretation one can get away with anything.”

b. “The sad fact is that long-continued, pleasant normality becomes a bore.”

c. “A child needs an English nurse more than a mother.”

d. “One tends only to discover at the very last moment hidden defects in unexpected places.”

B. Japanese Particulars in I Am a Cat

5. Architecture and space. One of the most interesting insights for Western readers is how the traditional Japanese home would have been like to live in. Which one of the following does not characterize the master’s home in I Am a Cat?

a. thin, even translucent rice-paper walls                  

b. close proximity to neighboring homes

c. elaborate carving in the stone masonry     

d. sliding doors          

e. includes a little garden

6. Lost in Translation? Some of the humor of I Am a Cat is due to the feline narrator’s mastery of language, but some bits may strike us as odd! Which one of the following is not in I Am a Cat?

a. hecklers insult a person by calling him a “terra cotta badger”

b. a teacher is ridiculed for calling a beverage “Savage Tea”

c. a man is criticized for being “as light and flossy as goldfish food floating around on a pond”

d. an author is praised because he “also wrote importantly upon the seasoning of turnips”

e. All of the above are in I Am a Cat.

7. Food. Which one of the following products or dishes is not mentioned as a delicious treat?

a. snake rice               

b. dried bonito                       

c. goulash                   

d. vermicelli noodles

C. The Feline Perspective

8. What does purring really mean, according to I Am a Cat?

a. the cat is laughing              

b. the cat is anxious               

c. the cat is seeking warmth

9. Wisdom to ponder. That cat espouses a Zen attitude which feels refreshing, all the while dishing out acerbic criticisms of men. Which one of these two quotes is spoken by the cat?

a. “Just as cowards grow aggressive under the spur of grog, so may students emboldened by mere numbers into stirring up a riot be regarded as having lost their senses by becoming intoxicated with people.”

b. “Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally, but women feel just as men feel.”

10. What is the cat’s name?

a. Fluffy                     

b. Fishy                      

c. Freddy                    

d. He has no name.

ANSWERS

1. d. (In the Buddhist tale of the big stone Jizō, pp. 505—510 in the Tuttle edition, the fool named Daft Bamboo walks with “utter aimlessness”—a manner, not a person!)

2. e.

3. a. or e.

4. c.  (That quote is from Karolina Pavlova, A Double Life.)

5. c.

6. e.

7. c. (Goulash is described as a culinary favorite in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.)

8. a. When he’s purring, the cat is laughing (possibly at us).

9. a. (That quote, dear reader, is from Jane Eyre.)

10. d.

Come back next month for our quiz on The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989).

Categories
English literature

Trivia Quiz for “Jane Eyre”

Trivia Quiz for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)

For WSEA “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 7/31/22

(With answers below)

1. Five Homes, Prisons, or Way Stations toward an Unknown Fate?  Jane lives at five places with evocative names during her young life. Which is not one of them?

  1. Thornfield                               b. Ferndean                 c. Moor House            d. Cheesewring               e. Gateshead              f. Lowood

2. Portraits of Bullying and Vengeance.  Jane encounters numerous instances of people acting badly, especially in their anger over what she does or does not do or say. Which of the following is not guilty of physically attacking, berating, bullying, insulting, or trying to coerce Jane Eyre?

a. John Reed                                                   b. Mrs. Reed                           c. Mr. Brocklehurst d. Miss Temple                                               e. Mr. Rochester                     f. Blanche Ingram

3. Portraits of Resistance. Amid the chaos of adults acting rashly, there are vignettes of younger people who resist attack in wise forbearance, including which one of the following?

a. Helen Burns                                    b. Adèle Varens         

c. Georgiana Reed                                         

d. Miss Scratcherd                                          e. Blanche Ingram

4. Fury, Rage, and Passion! Jane Eyre shocked readers in the 1840s for the detailed descriptions of people in the throes of hatred, desire, and vengeance. Which of the following is not from Jane Eyre?

a. “My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; …. I uttered a wild, involuntary cry; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort.”

b. “He crossed the floor and seized my arm and grasped my waist. He seemed to devour me with his flaming glance… powerless as stubble exposed to the draught and glow of a furnace.”

c. “She sucked the blood: she said she’d drain my heart.”

d.  “I wonder what other bridegroom ever looked as he did—so bent up to a purpose, so grimly resolute: or who, under such steadfast brows, ever revealed such flaming and flashing eyes.”

e. All of the above are found in Jane Eyre.

5. Autobiographical style. With its retrospective first-person narrative, Brontë’s book provides readers with a feeling of listening to the heroine’s most secret and changeable thoughts. Which one of the following thoughts does not occur to the heroine?

a. “I still possessed my soul, and with it the certainty of ultimate safety.”

b. “We can’t behave like people in novels, though, can we?”

c. “Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally, but women feel just as men feel.”

d. “My help had been needed and claimed; I had given it; I was pleased to have done something.”   

6. Self-talk. Alongside the occasional kind words from others, Jane tortures herself and tries to encourage herself, by her own internal monologue. Which of the following is not from Jane Eyre?

a. “You, a favorite of Mr. Rochester? Go! Your folly sickens me. … Poor stupid dupe!”

b. “The afternoon advanced, while I thus wandered about like a lost and starving dog.”

c. “In what darkness, what dense ignorance, was the mental battle fought! I could not answer the ceaseless inward question—why I thus suffered.”

d. “One Christmas was so much like another, in those years…”

7. Night fears. Which of the following scary moments is not from Jane Eyre?

a. “There was a demoniac laugh—low, suppressed, and deep—uttered, as it seemed, at the very keyhole of my chamber door.”

b. A maid screams: “There was no reflection of him in the mirror!”

c. “I started awake on hearing a vague murmur, peculiar and lugubrious, which sounded, I thought, just above me.”

d. “This door was open; a light shone out of the room within: I heard thence a snarling, snatching sound, almost like a dog quarreling.”

8. Money, Transactions, and Debt. Which of the following does not happen in Jane Eyre?

a. Mr. Rochester hires Jane as a governess, for 30 pounds a year.

b. Jane saves Mr. Rochester’s life during a fire, and tells him “There is no debt, benefit, burden, obligation, in the case.”

c. Jane inherits 20,000 pounds from a long-lost uncle.

d. Jane follows the advice of St John, and gives her fortune to Christian missionaries in India.

9.—10. Love and Forgiveness. Jane’s tolerance of Rochester’s foul temper, moodiness, and emotional outbursts is exemplary. What two (choose 2) reasons does she offer for it?

a.  “He made me feel what severe punishment a good yet stern, a conscientious yet implacable man can inflict on one who has offended him.”

b. “It must have been most irksome to find himself bound by a hard-wrung pledge to stand in the stead of a parent to a strange child he could not love. “

c. “Harsh caprice laid me under no obligation; on the contrary, a decent quiescence, under the freak of manner, gave me the advantage. … I felt interested to see how he would go on.”

d. “His changes of mood did not offend me, because I saw that I had nothing to do with their alternation; the ebb and flow depended on causes quite disconnected to me.”

ANSWERS

1. d. Cheesewring is a location in Cornwall, England (encountered in Daphne Dumaurier’s Jamaica Inn)

2. d. Miss Temple

3. a. Helen Burns

4. e. All of the above are in Jane Eyre.

5. b. (That quote is from The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton.)

6. d. (That quote is from Dylan Thomas, A Child’s Christmas in Wales.)

7. b. (That quote is from Bram Stoker, Dracula.)

8. d. Jane does not follow the advice of St John; she keeps her own counsel.

9. c.

10. d.

Categories
American literature art children creativity French literature humor music nature quilts

Only a real idiot can have this much fun! (homage to Julio Cortázar)

Reading Julio Cortázar’s essay, “Only a Real Idiot” yesterday, I felt such a joyfully liberating surge of life energy, for he captured how I feel, on seeing a hummingbird scratch his neck with his tiny foot like a dog, or a cornflower in glorious blue abandon alongside gritty Rainier Avenue, or José González in concert. Or my classmates doing Aikido at sunset, a Chinese busker twanging strange melodies at Hing Hay Park, or Toots and the Maytalls when they were here, so long ago in the pre-pandemic past…

“I am entertained, deeply moved; the dialogues or the dancers’ motions seem like supernatural visions to me. I applaud wildly, and sometimes the tears well up in my eyes or I laugh until I have to pee; in any event, I am glad to be alive and to have had this opportunity to go to the theater or to the movies or to an exhibition, anywhere extraordinary people make or show things never before imagined, where they invent a place of revelation or communication, something that washes away the moments when nothing is happening, nothing but what always happens.” (“Only a Real Idiot” in Around the Day in Eighty Worlds, p. 62)

It’s all about enthusiasm.

My latest creation–to be unveiled next week at West Seattle’s Summerfest!–is the Luxury Troll Boudoir. (If ever there were a folly, this is it!)

Luxury Troll Boudoirs in progress, HGBG workshop, West Seattle (7/5/22)

— Set in a picturesque cigar box, each features a troll doll with its own quilt, snuggled into a little bed made of vintage satin
— Comes with a booklet, Beautiful Thoughts for the Boudoir, with quotes and portraits by five inspiring French and American women writers
— Suitable for children or nostalgia lovers of any age

Coming soon to the HGBG shop on etsy!

Author portrait courtesy of https://aldianews.com/en/culture/books-and-authors/cortazar-movies

Categories
American literature art creativity English literature French literature wisdom

Trivia quiz on Virginia Woolf, “To the Lighthouse” and “A Room of One’s Own”

Trivia Quiz for To the Lighthouse (1927) and A Room of One’s Own (1929) by Virginia Woolf

with the answers below

For WSEA “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 5/22/22

I. To the Lighthouse

A. On Frustrated Yearning     

1. The book begins with a scene of a young boy’s yearning, which opens the reader’s horizon to a long-awaited sea voyage. In a few lines, however, the dream of travel is dashed. Who is the first person to announce the trip’s impossibility, and why?

a. the protagonist’s nurse, because the boy is sickly and too weak for travel at present.

b. the child’s mother, who reminds him that he has schoolwork to do.

c. the child’s father, who announces that the weather “won’t be fine.”

d. a houseguest, who feels a west wind blowing.

2. On Comfort.

Among other things, words provide comfort to the child and it is usually his mother who speaks comforting words. Which of the following refrains is not spoken by the mother, Mrs. Ramsey?

a. “But it may be fine—I expect it will be fine.”          

b. “Let’s find another picture to cut out.”                   

c. “Oh, how beautiful!”

d. “Well then, we will cover it up.”                 

e. “Think of a kitchen table, when you’re not there.”

3. Ordinary Misogyny. Quotes that we may find objectionable run through the narrative. Which is not from To the Lighthouse?

a. “They did nothing but talk, talk, talk, eat, eat, eat. It was the women’s fault. Women made civilisation impossible with all their ‘charm,’ all their silliness.”

b. “Treat ‘em like chickens, son. Throw ‘em a little corn and they’ll run after you, but don’t give ‘em too much. If you do, they’ll stop layin’ and expect you to wait on ‘em.”

c. “She was not good enough to tie his shoe strings.”

d. “There was Mr. X whispering in her ear, ‘Women can’t paint, women can’t write…’”

e. “She guessed what he was thinking—he would have written better books if he had not married.”

4. Extraordinary Restraint. Women react to men’s comments in ways that feel uncomfortably familiar—with silence, resentment, and smoldering rage. Which is not in To the Lighthouse?

a. “She had done the usual trick—been nice.”  

b. “’Odious little man,’ thought Mrs. Ramsey, ‘why go on saying that?’”

c. “She would never for a single second regret her decision, evade difficulties or slur over duties.”

d. “She bent her head as if to let the pelt of jagged hail, the drench of dirty water, bespatter her unrebuked. There was nothing to be said.”

e. “If she had said half of what he said, she would have blown her brains out by now.”

f. All are in To the Lighthouse.

5. How long does it take before the Ramseys take the trip mentioned on page one?

a. two months             

b. ten years                 

c. twenty years            

d. one week

II. A Room of One’s Own and themes found in both books

6. Why does Woolf declare that “the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction” must remain unsolved in her work?  Which reason is not in the book?

a. because there are too many great women novelists to synthesize into one conclusion

b. because until the 17th century, most women were too poor and uneducated to write anything

c. because throughout history, women have lacked the time, money and solitude necessary to discover their genius

7. Acc. to Woolf, what emotion dominates the books (by men) explaining women and their works?

a. delight                     

b. anger                       

c. awe              

d. jealousy  

8. Creativity: How to explain it? Woolf attempts variously to describe what it feels like to conceive ideas and create things. Which quote is not by Virginia Woolf in these two books?

a. “It is fatal for anyone who writes to ignore their sex. The mind must be focused on one’s sexual identity, for its limitations and biological demands matter more than anything.”

b. “She could see it all so clearly, so commandingly, when she looked: it was when she took her brush in hand that the whole thing changed. It was in that moment’s flight … that made this passage from conception to work as dreadful as down a dark passage for a child.”

c. “Thought … had let its line down into the stream. It swayed, minute by minute, hither and thither among the reflections and the weeds, letting the water lift it and sink it, until—you know the little tug—the sudden conglomeration of an idea at the end of one’s line: and then the cautious hauling of it in, and careful laying of it out? Alas, laid on the grass how small, how insignificant this thought of mine looked.”

d. “The androgynous mind is resonant and porous … it transmits emotion without impediment … it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided.”

9. Woolf’s reality. Which of the following is not in A Room?

a. “If she begins to tell the truth, the [man’s] figure in the looking-glass shrinks; his fitness for life is diminished.”

b. “It is remarkable … what a change of temper a fixed income will bring about. I need not hate any man; he cannot hurt me. I need not flatter any man; he has nothing to give me.”

c. “The Suffrage campaign has done the unthinkable! Finally, it has roused in men an extraordinary desire to help women achieve their potential.”

d.  “Imaginatively, she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant. She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history.”

e. “Any woman born with a great gift in the sixteenth century would certainly have gone crazed, shot herself, or ended her days in some lonely cottage outside the village, half witch, half wizard, feared and mocked at.”

10. What’s wrong with women’s writing of the nineteenth century? Which reason is not cited?

a. Ignorance and emotion. “Anger was tampering with the integrity of Charlotte Brontë the novelist. … Her imagination swerved from indignation and we feel it swerve.”

b. Lack of natural ability. “No woman has ever written as well as Dickens or Proust.”

c.  Pressure of convention. “She was thinking of something other than the thing itself. … She had altered her values in deference to the opinion of others.”

d. Lack of female community and heritage. “They had no tradition behind them, or one so short and partial that it was of little help. For we think back through our mothers … it is useless to go to the great men writers for help.”

11. What advice does Woolf not proffer to young women? 

a. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

b. There must be a lock on that door, the door to your room.

c.  “Adopt the name of a man for your writing; anonymity runs in our blood.”

d. “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn.”

ANSWERS

1. c.

2. e. (Son Andrew makes that observation, describing his father’s philosophical writings.)

3. b.  That quote is from Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes.

4. f. All are in To the Lighthouse.

5. b.

6. a.

7. b.

8. a.

9. c.

10. b.

11. c.

To all women: please write! write simply, write sadly, write with your heart or your anger…

Write about your lives, about your thoughts, about your past, present, or future, but write, and let the world know you were here!

For what it is worth, I’ve pasted below a photo of the books I’ve created during my time on this earth, inspired partly at least by my reading of Woolf’s essay during my time as an undergraduate….

Woolf makes me proud to be a writer. To exist. To forgive us all, and to hope… for more great writers will come! Please write!

And, of course, thank you for reading.

Categories
American literature happiness loss memory

Trivia quiz on Edith Wharton, “The Age of Innocence”

Trivia Quiz for The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920; winner 1921 Pulitzer Prize)

(with answers below)

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 4/24/22

1. Husband, Wife, Stranger?  May Archer (née Welland) and her husband Newland Archer seem to understand and love each other in their own way. But they also find fault and misunderstand each other. What one trait does May not have, according to her husband?

a. she takes care of herself     

b. she lets her imagination run wild  

c. she is loyal and gallant       

d. she prefers to ignore unpleasantness         

e. she is a true New Yorker and knows how to act

2-5. Social Portraits. Familial, societal, and marital obligations loom large over the characters in The Age of Innocence; those characters who are unmarried or estranged from their families are seen as lonely outcasts. Yet even the most privileged seem pitiable. Match quote to the character. Characters include:  a. M. Rivière; b. Newland Archer; c. Countess Ellen Olenska; d. May Welland

Quotes                                                                                                         

2. “’Sameness—sameness!’ he muttered, the word running through his head like a persecuting tune…”

3. “I want to cast off all my old life, to become just like everybody else here. …  If you knew how I hate to be different!”

4. “You musn’t think that a girl knows as little as her parents imagine.”       

5. “Ah, good conversation—there’s nothing like it, is there? The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.”

6.  New York, circa 1870: A Uniquely Historic Urban Setting. There are many famous and familiar places named in The Age of Innocence, where the action mostly stays in New York city. Which one of the following places is not named?

a. Grace Church                     

b. Washington Square            

c. Metropolitan Museum of Art

d. a home on West 23rd Street            

e. the Academy of Music       

f. Central Park

g. the Empire State Building             

h. Wall Street 

7. Intimacy and nostalgia. Some of the most poignant passages endeavor to describe times past, longing, and how people who are otherwise intimate perceive life so differently. Which one of the following is not in the novel?

a. “You never did ask each other anything, did you? And you never told each other anything. You just sat and watched each other, and guessed at what was going on underneath.”

b. “Odd, he thought, how the thought of childhood keeps coming back to me—the result of seeing Clarissa, perhaps; for women live much more in the past than we do, he thought.”

c. “She was frank, poor darling, because she had nothing to conceal, assured because she knew of nothing to be on her guard against.”

d. “My good father abhorred hurry. But now we live in a constant rush.”

8. Style and technique. With her mixture of omniscience and interior monologue, Wharton’s narrative provides readers with a feeling of listening to the characters’ most secret and changeable thoughts. Which one of the following thoughts occurs to the hero, Newland Archer?

a. “Don’t let us be like all the others!”                      

b. “Women ought to be as free as we are—”

c. “We can’t behave like people in novels, though, can we?”          

d. “It’s worth everything isn’t it, to keep one’s intellectual liberty; not to enslave one’s powers of appreciation, one’s critical independence?”

9. Keywords and thoughts recur in Wharton’s description of upper-class New York society. Which one of the following quotes is not drawn from Wharton’s book?

a. “keep out the ‘new people’”          

b. “rather bad form”               

c. “morbidly sensitive”

d. “low-toned comments”      

e. “a naïve, generous country”           

f. “it’s confoundedly dull”

g. “ritual was precise and inflexible”            

h. “the occasion was a solemn one”

10-11. Maxims or life lessons. Similar to many of her contemporaries, Wharton peppers her novel with pithy bits of wisdom. Which two of the following are from The Age of Innocence?

a. “Living’s too much trouble unless one can get something big out of it.”

b. “The worst of doing one’s duty was that it apparently unfitted one for doing anything else.”

c. “It seems stupid to have discovered America only to make it into a copy of another country.”

d. “The children you don’t especially need, you have always with you, like the poor. But the bright ones get away from you.”

12. High tech and futurist scenarios. Which one of the following modern ideas and inventions is not in the Age of Innocence?

a. long-distance telephoning              

b. 5-day Atlantic ship crossings, from the US to Europe

c. women’s suffrage                                      

d. electric lighting      

e. Debussy’s music

13. Age = wisdom? At the beginning, Newland Archer seems to be in his early twenties. How old is he at the end of the book? 

a. 57 years old            

b. 42               

c. 78               

d. 85   

ANSWERS

1. b.

2. b.

3. c.

4. d.

5. a.                

6. g.

7. b.  (That quote is from Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway.)

8. b.

9. e. (That quote is from Willa Cather, My Ántonia.)

10.-11.  b. and c.

12. c.

13. a.

A special thanks to Carl and Daniel for the violets from their garden, featured in the nosegay seen above: a symbol of Wharton’s lost world and the nostalgia we all feel for long-lost times, places, and loves…

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American literature

Trivia quiz on Willa Cather, “The Song of the Lark” & “My Ántonia”

Trivia Quiz for Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark (1915) and My Ántonia (1918)

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 3/27/22

1. Women’s work. Cather’s novels provide a glimpse of the paths available for girls growing up in the rural heartland of the USA in the early 1900s. Which one of the following careers is not portrayed as a possibility for women, in the two works we read?

a. Opera singer                       

b. Wife and mother                

c. Teacher

d. Attorney                             

e. Seamstress                         

f. Real estate investor

g. Maid                                   

h. Church pianist                   

i. Boarding house owner

j. Laundress                            

k. Cook/Housekeeper

2. Overcoming adversity. The two heroines—Thea Kronberg and Ántonia Shimerda (later Cuzak)—undergo many hardships before finding success. Which one of the following obstacles does not adversely affect them, over the long run?

a. unplanned pregnancy         

b. poverty                   

c. familial hostility    

d. foreign languages

e. lassitude / lack of will power                     

f. growing up in rural isolation

3. Social satire. Although her tone is kinder than some writers we’ve read, Willa Cather does ridicule social convention. Of the following passages, which one is written by Cather?

a. “No matter in what straits the Pennsylvanian or Virginian found himself, he would not let his daughters go out in service. Unless his girls could teach a country school, they sat at home in poverty.”

b. “Left-wing people are always sad because they mind dreadfully about their causes, and the causes are always going so badly.”

c. “To a feather-brained school girl, nothing is sacred.”

d. “There were two classes of charitable people; one, the people who did a little and made a great deal of noise; the other, the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.”

4. On Love with or without Marriage (and vice versa). It may surprise modern readers to discover multiple critiques of marriage in Cather’s work, given its early time period. Which one of the following is not by Cather?

a. “’I don’t see why anybody wants to marry an artist anyhow. … You might have kept me in misery for a while, perhaps. … I have to think well of myself, to work. You could have made it hard.”

b. “Loverless and inexpectant of love, I was as safe from spies in my heart-poverty, as the beggar from thieves.”

c. “She is handsome, energetic, executive, but to me she seems … temperamentally incapable of enthusiasm. … She has her own fortune and lives her own life. For some reason, she wishes to remain Mrs. X.”

d. “Men are all right for friends, but as soon as you marry them they turn into cranky old fathers, even the wild ones. They begin to tell you what’s sensible and what’s foolish, and want you to stick at home all the time.”

5. Maxims. Life lessons run through both books. Which one of the following is not by Cather?

a. “Living’s too much trouble unless one can get something big out of it.”

b. “The children you don’t especially need, you have always with you, like the poor. But the bright ones get away from you.”

c. “Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed.”

d. “Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.”

6. Humorous Asides. Cather’s portraits of unlikable characters provide some comic relief. Which one of the following lines is not by Cather?

a. “Her face had a kind of heavy, thoughtless beauty, like a pink peony just at the point of beginning to fade. … She gave the impression of wearing a cargo of splendid merchandise.”

b. “X was an intensely dreary girl … who had failed so far to marry, and seemed to have no biological reason for existing.”

c. “X [had a] very fat wife, who had a farm of her own, and who bossed her husband, I was delighted to hear.”

d. “It was excruciating to sit there day after day and hear her; there was something shameless and indecent about not singing true.”

7. On Nature. Which of the following lines is not from Cather’s works?

a. “This earth seemed to her young and fresh and kindly, a place where refugees from old, sad countries were given another chance. … a naïve, generous country.”

b. [About apple trees in an orchard]: “’I love them as if they were people,’ she said, rubbing her hand over the bark. ‘There wasn’t a tree here when we first came. We planted every one.’”

c. X was “drinking her coffee and forcing open the petals of the roses with an ardent and rather rude hand.”

d. “Through the screaming wind they heard things crashing and things hurtling and dashing with unbelievable velocity. A baby rabbit, terror ridden, squirmed through a hole in the floor.”

8-10. Finding beauty in an imperfect world. Match the quote to the character. Characters include: a. Thea Kronberg; b. Ántonia Cuzak; c. Lena Lingard

8. “She laughed her mellow, easy laugh, that was either very artless or very comprehending, one never knew quite which. … I caught a faint odor of violet sachet.”

9. “She could lie there hour after hour in the sun and listen to the strident whir of the big locusts, and to the light, ironical laughter of the quaking asps. … her power to think seemed converted into a power of sustained sensation.”

10. “A stalwart, brown woman, flat-chested, her curly, brown hair a little grizzled … She was there, in the full vigor of her personality, battered but not diminished.”

11. An origin tale. Although it details the lives of many immigrants, My Ántonia claims to be narrated by a person who was born in the USA. What state is their birthplace?

a. Oklahoma  

b. Indiana       

c. Iowa           

d. Nebraska                 .

ANSWERS

1. d.

2. e.

3. a.

4. b. (That quote is from Villette by Charlotte Brontë.)

5. c. (That quote is from The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde.)

6. b. (That quote is from The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford.)

7. d. (That quote is from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.)

8. c.

9. a.

10. b

11. d.

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Trivia Quiz on “Bleak House” by Charles Dickens (part one, up to Chap. 29)

Trivia Quiz on Bleak House (1853)by Charles Dickens

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 1/16/22

A. Bleak House Essentials I: Characters galore!

1. … and they have such funny names! Odd and humorous names abound in Dickens’s prose, and they provide a good laugh to readers. Which of the following is not a character in Bleak House?

a. An unwelcome cousin, Volumnia              b. A wicked money-lender named Uriah Heep

c. Lord Boodle, the Duke of Foodle, and the Noodle, Sir Leicester             

d. A nasty old man called Grandfather Smallweed                e. A dirty boy named Peepy       

2. … but they’re confusing. Which people are important? Bleak House is crammed with people of all sorts who bump shoulders in apparently accidental ways, on crowded city streets among other places. Yet some encounters are significant. Which one of the following encounters among characters is followed by a significant message or foreshadowing?

a. Miss Flite’s meeting with the three orphans outside Lincoln’s Inn

b. Lady Dedlock’s meeting with Lord Boodle at her home in town

c. Lady Jane’s meeting with the three orphans at Krook’s store

d. The visit to Mrs. Jellyby of some natives of Borrioboola-Gha

B. Bleak House Essentials II: The World of London

3. Compared to other London novels such as Mrs. Dalloway, there are few tourist locations named in Bleak House. Which one of the following places is named?

a. The Shard                           

b. The Victoria and Albert Museum              

c. The Tate Modern

d. Temple Bar                        

e. The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain    

f. All of the above      

C. Bleak House Essentials III: Fog

4. Many scenes take place in dark, shady neighborhoods or deep in a cold wintry fog. The fog often portends confusion, as if the characters are entering into a particularly disorganized, unruly, murky place. Which of the following places in Bleak House does not match that description?

a. The home of the Jellyby family                                         

b. Tom-All-Alone’s

c. The Court of Chancery                                                      

d. Krook’s store

e. None of the above: they all match that description

5. The House Itself: Not so bleak!  Which of the following does not describe Bleak House?

a. “delightfully irregular”                  

b. “a bountiful profusion of little halls and passages”

c. “It was the completest and most desirable bedroom ever seen—in the stern of the vessel; with a little window, and a little looking-glass, just the right height for me, framed with oyster shells.”

d. “shining out upon the star-light night; with its light, and warmth, and comfort”

6. Strange Pronouncements and Legacies. Some of the most vivid passages touch on the power of words to form a destiny or conjure up the past. Which of the following is not in the novel?

a. “It would have been far better, little Esther, that you had had no birthday; that you had never been born!”

b. “Take care how you cut yourself. It is more dangerous than you think in this country.”

c. “Some melancholy influence is upon her; or why should so proud a lady close the doors, and sit alone upon the hearth so desolate?”

d. “Blest! If I can ever have seen her. Yet I know her! Has the picture been engraved, miss?”

e. “The only other lodger is a law-writer. The children in the lanes here, say he has sold himself to the devil.”

D. Style and Wisdom. Charles Dickens shows great talent for describing human frailties, yet the depth of the characters’ psychology may disappoint: people often resemble their exterior and names. Name the person associated with the following quotes, from this list: a. Mr. Snagsby; b. Esther Summerson; c. Harold Skimpole

7. “It sounds—somehow it sounds, like a small sum?” 

8. “But so from rough outsides (I hope I have learnt) serene and gentle influences often proceed.”

9. “X appears: greasy, warm, herbaceous, and chewing.”

10. Maxims. Dickens famously describes Victorian attitudes in his works, and Bleak House abounds with maxims such as all of the following but one. Which one doesn’t fit?

a. “Of all the soul’s impressions, shame is the most conventional and the one most capable of being falsely applied.”

b. “Submission, self-denial, diligent work, are the preparations for a life.”

c. “There were two classes of charitable people; one, the people who did a little and made a great deal of noise; the other, the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.”

d. “It is a melancholy truth that even great men have their poor relations.”

11. True or False? An earlier name for Mr. Jarndyce’s home is “The Peaks”. T / F

ANSWERS

1. b. Readers of David Copperfield will find Uriah Heep there, but not in Bleak House.

2. a.

3. d.

4. e.

5. c. This quote is also from David Copperfield.

6. b. That warning is from Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

7. c.

8. b.

9. a.

10. a. That comment is from Karolina Pavlova’s novel, A Double Life.

11. True

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Christmas Trivia Quiz! (re: stories by Gogol, Capote & Thomas)

Trivia Quiz for Christmas stories

Nikolai Gogol, The Night Before Christmas (Russian, 1832)

Truman Capote, A Christmas Memory (American, 1956)

Dylan Thomas, A Child’s Christmas in Wales (Welsh, 1950)

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 12/19/21

Timelessness. Each story suggests the eternal essence of holiday magic, yet their styles capture that feeling in different ways. Match quote to author: a. Nikolai Gogol; b. Truman Capote; or c. Dylan Thomas

1. “One Christmas was so much like another, in those years…”

2. “It’s always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year … announces: ‘It’s fruitcake weather!’”

3. “A clear winter night had come; the stars peeped out; the moon rose majestically in the sky to light good people and all the world so that all might enjoy singing.”

Delicious food! Each story details the treats that accompany the holidays. Match the special food to the author: a. Nikolai Gogol; b. Truman Capote; or c. Dylan Thomas

4. rice, honey, and fat bacon and sausage

5. toffee, fudge, allsorts, crunches, cracknel, humbugs, glaciers, marzipan, and butterwelsh

6. a beef bone, some Satsuma oranges, flapjacks, fried squirrel, and honey-in-the-comb

Seasonal sounds. Each story evokes sounds that signify winter and holidays. Match the special sound to the author: a. Nikolai Gogol; b. Truman Capote; or c. Dylan Thomas

7. “A wild turkey calls. A renegade hog grunts in the undergrowth…. Here, there, a flash, a flutter, an ecstasy of shrillings remind us that not all the birds have flown south.”

8. “The snow sparkled… Groups of lads and girls appeared with sacks. Songs rang out, and under almost every cottage window were crowds of carol-singers.”

9. “It seemed that all the churches boomed for joy under my window; and the weathercocks crew for Christmas, on our fence.”

Maxims about life. Each story contains some lesson to be learned. Match the teaching to the author who mentions it: a. Nikolai Gogol; b. Truman Capote; or c. Dylan Thomas

10. “And when we stopped running … everything was good again and shone over the town.”

11. “Home is where my friend is.”

12. “Things are queerly arranged in our world! All who live in it are always trying to outdo and imitate one another.”

Hints of melancholy. Each story alludes to some mystery or sadness as well. Match the quote to the author: a. Nikolai Gogol; b. Truman Capote; or c. Dylan Thomas

13. “One, two, three, and we began to sing … round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. … And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice”

14. “Is it because my friend is shy with everyone except strangers that these strangers, and merest acquaintances, seem to us our truest friends? I think yes.”

15. “She is jeering at me. I am no more to her than an old rusty horseshoe.”

16. Snow! Circle the story which does not mention a snowy Christmas.

a. The Night Before Christmas           b. A Christmas Memory          c. A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Women’s work. Women are a force to be reckoned with in these stories, in vastly different ways.

17. Nikolai Gogol’s story pivots around the actions of certain women. Which is not in the story?

a. One woman beats her husband, then “sighing and groaning, waddled off to tell her old friends of her husband’s unmannerliness and the blows she had to put up with from him.”

b. A witch steals the stars out of the sky.

c. Oksana, the village beauty, is so full of caprices that most of her would-be suitors give up on her.

d. A poor woman receives a white wool shawl knitted by her sister one year.

18. Dylan Thomas describes all but one of the following women in his story. Which does not belong?

a. “Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro, bearing tureens.”

b. One neighbor is condemned by his auntie because: “For all the husband’s faults, the wife is guilty.”

c. “Some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edges of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers.”

d. After a few drinks of port, one aunt stands “in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush.”

19. Truman Capote’s tale is dominated by a female friend who is described as all but one of the following. Which attribute does not belong to her?

a. Superstitious, she spends the thirteenth of each month in bed.

b. She was not known to go to movies, eat in restaurants, wish anyone harm, or let a hungry dog go hungry.

c. She takes a long time getting dressed, and loves to preen before a looking-glass in admiration.

d. She was known to kill rattlesnakes, tame hummingbirds, tell ghost stories, and walk in the rain.

20. Beautiful styles! Which is not by Dylan Thomas? [hint: there are two correct answers.]

a. “Snow grew overnight on the roofs of houses like a pure and grandfather moss.”

b. “It seemed to him as though all the houses had fixed their innumerable fiery eyes upon him, watching.”

c. “The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe webfooted men wheezing in caves.”

d. “A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing from me an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite on a broken string. That is why, walking across a school campus on this particular December morning, I keep searching the sky.”

ANSWERS:

1. c

2. b

3. a

4. a

5. c

6. b

7. b

8. a

9. c

10. c

11. b

12. a

13. c

14. b

15. a

16. b

17. d  (That describes Capote’s friend)

18. b (That quote is from Pavlova, A Double Life)

19. c  (That description applies to a character in Gogol’s story)

20. b (from Gogol) and d (from Capote)

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winners all!

A pattern is now emerging. Making quilts designed by people who live nearby is creating a sense of roots sprouting under my feet! We are winners all in this game of life, when we share the joy of creating.

  1. Winner of “Win YOUR Quilt” drawing, West Seattle Grounds coffee shop, June 10, 2021:

2. Winning quilt from November 20, 2021 Holiday Bazaar in the Alki Masonic Hall, West Seattle, WA:

Take your chance at designing–and winning–your own handmade art quilt, this Saturday, December 4 from 1-4pm, at the Holiday Makers Market at West Seattle Grounds coffee shop! The drawing will be held at 3:45pm, so don’t delay…