Trivia Quiz for “A Double Life” by Karolina Pavlova

Trivia Quiz for A Double Life by Karolina Pavlova (1848)

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 11/21/21

1. Maxims. Like many nineteenth-century authors, Karolina Pavlova tucks numerous precepts or words of wisdom into the narration. Which of the following is not in the novel?

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

b. “It befits a prudent mother to act with severity only with impoverished suitors.”

c. “The old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere ‘modernity’ cannot kill.”

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

2. The banality of Moscow’s high society. Pavlova underlines the banality of aristocratic life in Moscow in many ways. Which of the following is not in the novel?

a. “She wanted, suddenly, to shock people, to hurt them, to make them notice her, to be aware of her suffering.”        

b. In the summer, society people leave their homes not to travel abroad or visit the country, but rather to live in the “Park”, an open, landscaped area within city limits.

c. It is easy for society women to traverse Moscow in making social visits, due to the “topographical knowledge of ladies.”

d. A much-anticipated, highly expensive birthday dinner is described as: “like all dinners of this sort, long and boring.”

3. The flawed suitor. Dimitry Ivachinsky is a problematic suitor who possesses some disappointing attributes, including all but one of the following. Which is not in the book?

a. He expresses disgust about the “raw sheepskin coats” worn by ordinary folk.

b. He’s known to be “secret and self-contained.”

c. He scoffs at one lady’s fortune: “Not a very large fortune, six hundred souls”.

d. On the night before his wedding, he “feels ashamed” that his friends suggest he’s settling down, and so declares, “In a week from today, I’ll invite you all to a heroic drinking bout with the gypsies.”

4. Psychological awareness. The heroine, Cecily, suffers from a number of oppressive symptoms and vague confusions which leave her mind troubled. Which of the following is not mentioned?

a. “dreams about horrible things”                  

b. “senseless fear and mysterious grief”

c. “a series of pinpricks”                               

d. “incoherent thoughts”

5. Pavlova: the Russian Dorothy Parker? The characters in A Double Life voice a number of droll comments that recall the American writer Dorothy Parker (née Rothschild; 1893-1967). Which of the following quotes is not found in A Double Life?

a. “She was obliged to make fun of people because she had the reputation of being very witty.”

b. “She dreamed by day of never again putting on tight shoes, of never having to laugh and listen and admire, of never more being a good sport. Never.”

c. “Literature is extremely respected, and ladies especially have been devoting such attention to it for some time that only by hardly noticeable signs is it possible to guess that, in fact, they play no active part in it.”

d. “’I think,’ she said, ‘that that blue dress will soon get a medal, it’s done such long service.’”

6. Female complaints. Which of the physical conditions is not mentioned in A Double Life ?

a. dizziness    

b. menstruation          

c. headaches   

d. the “most pitiable, abnormal condition” of writing poetry

7. Female rivalry: a warning?  Women are a force to be reckoned with in this novel and a motivating element in the final climax. Which of the following is not in the book?

a. One character declares, “I always say a woman cannot have too many resources—And I feel very thankful that I have so many myself.”

b. A mother takes pride in her daughter’s upbringing, because “It took time and skill to destroy in her soul its innate thirst for delight and enthusiasm.”

c. A woman is condemned by another because: “For all the husband’s faults, the wife is guilty.”

d. A woman maintains her place in society by “skillfully and artfully” hiding the machinations which pushed her friend to marry off her daughter to a dubious suitor, so as to nudge a wealthier suitor toward her own daughter.

8. Cecily’s character. For all her vagueness, the heroine does possess some strengths. Which of the following does not apply to her character?

a. She listens “with that strange aptitude that we sometimes possess, or more precisely, that possesses us at times when our hearts are sleepwalking.”

b. The narrator comments: “There was something furious about her, even when she laughed, which she did a great deal.”

c. She senses “a gleam of heavenly truth, a sincere feeling, a revelation of the soul” for a minute.

d. She “felt within herself that it was somehow nobler and better to prefer poverty to wealth. … She sincerely rejoiced in her choice.”

9. Poetic images. The author weaves poetry into prose so as to create an alternative reality. Cecily’s nocturnal reveries repeat certain motifs. Which words are not found in these poems?

a. “dreams despondent and tense”     

b. a “stern and powerful visitor”       

c. “Listen to them, the children of the night!”           

d. “mute tears and obscure struggles”

10. Historical context. Which element from nineteenth-century actuality appears in this novel?

a. The “country” novels of French woman writer George Sand       

b. The Communist Manifesto, pub. 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

c. the pan-European workers’ revolts of 1848, aka “the Springtime of the Peoples”   

d. The overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy in France (February 1848)


1. c. (That quote is from Stoker, Dracula.)

2. a. (That quote is from Larsen, Passing.)

3. b. (That quote describes the early Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.)

4. c. (That quote is from Mitford, The Pursuit of Love.)

5. b. (That quote is from Dorothy Parker.)

6. b.

7. a. (That quote is from Austen, Emma; it describes Mrs. Elton.)

8. b. (That quote is from Mitford, The Pursuit of Love.)

9. c. (That quote is from Stoker, Dracula.)

10. a.