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.


the joy of imagination, shared


This morning, my mind and hands take up a new task that feels very familiar: researching and writing a quiz. A literary quiz, to be precise. As I remain wrapped in the warm glow of Gabriel García Márquez’s words, from the last pages of Love in the Time of Cholera, I am suddenly pulled to the computer. Because I suddenly realized these quizzes are a joy–simple and cheap to procure–and you may like them too.

I hereby vow to share the monthly quizzes I’ve been creating for the “West Seattle Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club with you, here on this blog. (I’ll even post the answers too!)

In a little while after it’s written, I’ll start with today’s, and then work my way backwards, on a daily basis, through all the books listed below, which we read during the months of covid-19 plague fears and lockdowns, back to March 2020 when we first met.

Because if there is one thing the reader realizes in finishing Love in the Time of Cholera, it is that lockdowns, however tedious and frightening, may give rise to new pleasures …

and all pleasures, like love, are meant to be shared.

(Like the dandelion-blowing woman from the Larousse publishing company, above, je sème à tout vent – I’ll sow [or throw] wisdom to the wind.)

The sooner, the better. You never know who might be waiting. And it’s never too late to start anew!

West Seattle Classic Novels (and Movies) book club reading list, March 2020-July 2021, titles read:

Jane Austen, Emma [March 2020]

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Daphne Dumaurier, Jamaica Inn.

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Washington Irving, “Rip van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Charlotte Brontë, Villette

Iris Murdoch, The Green Knight

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Nella Larsen, Passing

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, film, dir. George C. Wolfe, adapted from play by August Wilson

Clarice Lispector, Family Ties

and Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez, for July 25, 2021.