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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
French literature humor wisdom

Trivia Quiz for “Père Goriot” (1835) by Honoré de Balzac

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 6/26/22

With answers below

A. The Complicated Unfolding: Characters and Relationships.

1. Secrets revealed. People’s secrets come to light in many ways—gradual and abrupt—in the pages of Père Goriot. Which of the following is not a secret revealed?

a. Anastasie, Comtesse de Restaud, is actually Goriot’s eldest daughter.

b. Delphine, Baronne de Nucingen, is actually Goriot’s second daughter.

c. Monsieur Vautrin is actually a famous criminal nicknamed Trompe-la-mort or Death Dodger.

d. Mme Vauquer’s generosity actually does help the people of Borrioboola-Gha.

2. Mysteries remain. Despite the many dénouements in the second half, significant doubts nag at the reader. Which of the following enigmas is resolved?

a. Will Eugène de Rastignac remain loyal to his lady-love, Delphine de Nucingen?

b. Will Mme Vauquer find new boarders for her rooming house?

c. Will Vautrin escape from prison with the help of his confederates?

d. Will the Vicomtesse de Beauséant ever be seen in Paris again?

e. All of the above remain tinged by mystery, in one way or another.

B. Irony, heavy at times.  The Balzacian narrator, and the novel’s characters, do not hesitate to pass judgment on people, often with funny/cringe-inducing results. Match the comment to the person being described. The characters:  a. Père Goriot; b. Eugène de Rastignac ; c. Mme Vauquer ; d. Mlle Victorine Taillefer  

3. “As happens with great souls, he wanted nothing he had not deserved.”

4.  “Like all narrow-minded people, X habitually looked no farther than the sequence taken by events, without analyzing their causes. She liked to blame others for her own mistakes.”

5. “X blended in with the general atmosphere of wretchedness… She resembled a shrub whose leaves have yellowed from being freshly planted in the wrong sort of soil.”

6. “There was no more room for doubt. X was an old rake … the disgusting color of his hair was the result of his excesses and the drugs he took in order to continue them.”

C. 7. Education. Père Goriot, like David Copperfield, is considered a Bildungsroman or novel of education. Which one of the following precepts does the hero Eugène not learn in the course of his time in Paris?

a. “Believe me, young man, practice shooting. … It’s no good being honest.”

b. “Strike without pity and people will fear you.”

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

d. “If you want to succeed, start by not showing your feelings so plainly.”

e. “There are only two options open: dumb obedience or revolt.”

8. Which one of the following attributes is not mentioned to explain Eugène’s popularity among ladies?

a. his expressions of undying loyalty

b. his studiousness and work ethic

c. his southern impetuosity

d. his good looks

9. Marriage in Paris: a special kind of hell. Circle the quote that is not by Balzac.

a. “Poor old thing, I suppose she likes him, but, I must say, if he was one’s dog one would have him put down.”

b. “Young men from the provinces know nothing of the pleasures of a triangular relationship.”

c. “Our marriages have become a mere farce.”

d. “Chains of gold are the heaviest to bear.”

10. Money worries. There is one place in Père Goriot where several people go in secret, to solve worries about money. What place is called “that depressing and discreet friend of the young”?

a. a gambling den

b. a pawn shop

c. a brothel

11. Although Père Goriot seems to act in mysterious ways to his fellow boarders, Vautrin is the ultimate mystery in their midst. Which of the following does not designate his character?

a. “Let me tell you a secret: he doesn’t like women.”

b. “The very fact of his conviction brought him the most enormous honor among his own sort.”

c. “He has been fortunate enough to escape with his life from all the extremely risky exploits he has carried out.”

d. “that great lump of an Alsatian? / He is quite capable of absconding with all the capital and leaving us behind, the scoundrel!”

ANSWERS

  1. d.
  2. e.
  3. b.
  4. c.
  5. d.
  6. a.
  7. c. (That quote is from Bram Stoker, Dracula.)
  8. b.
  9. a. (That quote is from The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford.)
  10. b.
  11. d. (That quote describes the Baron de Nucingen, Delphine’s husband.)

Fantastic movie poster; love the symbols of greed and sorrow, rage and lust. That about sums up this cynical masterpiece… which can evoke tears or great merriment, depending on your mood when you read it.

P.S. For our next meeting, July 31, we’re going to read Jane Eyre!

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
art cats creativity design dogs friendship happiness quilts trees wisdom

small mercies

It’s been pretty damp out here lately. It’s easy to let your spirits fall flat and feel dreary. Even the computer sends out small, slightly ominous messages of warning, in the right-hand corner of the screen.

Yet I take heart in Emerson’s words this morning: “I am thankful for small mercies.” The beauty of green lush scenery and the ever-changing skies, the humorous way my computer seems to be speaking, commiserating about the weather… it’s all so endearing, so regular, so northwestern. It’s life happening right before our eyes. The passage which follows in Emerson rings strangely familiar too, to readers of Michael Singer and other contemporary writers on consciousness:

“The new molecular philosophy shows astronomical interspaces betwixt atom and atom, shows that the world is all outside; it has no inside.”

Emerson also reminds us, like Singer in Living Untethered (just got my copy and loving it!) that:

“Life’s chief good is for well-mixed people who can enjoy what they find, without question. .. To fill the hour–that is happiness; to fill the hour and leave no crevice for a repentance or an approval. We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them.”

“Life is a tempest of fancies, and the only ballast I know is a respect to the present hour. … we should not postpone and refer and wish, but do broad justice where we are.”

— from Emerson, “Experience” in Selected Writings, pp. 350-352.

And then there’s “All Star Seattle Quilt” No. 1, finished yesterday! It was fun to stitch in some of my favorite natural scenes and landmarks from this city I love so much… and to blend them with fabrics from the many cultures which make this such a quirky, lively place to be: African block prints, Vietnamese tigers, Japanese cranes in flight, Mexican flowers in bloom–we have so much to be grateful for, in this outpost on the far western side of the country.

Hint: those T-shirts and the tiny pin represent local landmarks which will be featured in “All Star Seattle Quilts” Nos. 2 and 3, coming for summer!

And now, about that weather…

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…

Categories
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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bittersweet thoughts on the Ides of March

“Bittersweet” (or douce-amère, sweetbitter in French) sums up the memories that are seeping into thought this morning. Ambivalent and a little sad, a little happy.

What triggered it was the following email: “I last wrote to you on 3/10/20, two years ago, to cancel the writing workshop, Write YOUR Story.” The rest of the letter explains hopes for recommencing the workshop but still…

Two years have disappeared, two years of isolation, anxiety, and collective worry. Two years is a lot when you are only 8 years old. It’s been two years while those kids whose story, which never even got a title and remains unfinished, have been growing up. [BTW: The spring 2020 group story was a reverse fairy tale, modeled on “Hans in Luck,” by the Brothers Grimm. Our protagonist: a 12-year-old girl who loves gardening. In keeping with the original genre, our heroine is given, and loses, money and treasures one after another. At the ending, she’d be left with nothing, or at least no material profit. I was so curious to know how they’d spin that, the nothingness.]

It is bittersweet, the memory of covid-19 and all who have died, who were sick, who remain devastated by memory or physical disability, that plague. Equally fragile are those who got better but who remain terrified by the memory of having a plague.

Yet look at the sweet hopefulness in the children’s faces seen here. If ever we needed a reason to keep going, it’s in these faces.

Look at those adorable girls who joined the class in 2015, seen above. They are teenagers now, adults. Yet I bet they’ll remember the warm feeling of fun we all shared, how fun it was to write and illustrate Nabiki and Ruby: An Outer Space Fairy Tale.

That creative energy has to be good for the planet!

May your activities this week, as we head into the notorious IDES OF MARCH, be creative and good for the planet too. Despite the horrors that have transpired on March 15 in years past, history does not need to repeat itself. We can do better. We must!

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Trivia quiz on Charles Dickens, “Bleak House” (part two, from Chap. 29 to end)

Trivia Quiz for Bleak House (part two)by Charles Dickens (1853)

For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 2/20/22

A. The Complicated Unfolding: Characters and Relationships.

1. Secrets revealed. People’s secrets come to light in many ways—gradual and abrupt—in the second half of Bleak House. Which of the following is not a secret revealed?

a. Mrs. Rouncewell is actually George’s mother.

b. Lady Dedlock is actually Esther’s mother.

c. The will found by Mr. Smallweed in Krook’s shop actually does provide a fortune for the Jarndyce wards.

d. Mrs. Jellyby’s efforts actually do help the people of Borrioboola-Gha.

2. Mysteries remain. Despite the many dénouements in the second half, significant doubts nag at the reader. Which of the following enigmas is unresolved?

a. Why did Hortense kill the lawyer, Mr. Tulkinghorn?

b. How does Skimpole get away with sponging off of other people?

c. How did Jo get the dread virus and transmit it to Esther?

d. Whose footsteps are heard on the Ghost’s Walk at Chesney Wold?

e. All of the above remain tinged by mystery, in one way or another

Insider references: a clue to emotion. Several characters revert to stock phrases to express their feelings. Match the character to the phrase.  The characters include:  a. Mr. Bagnet; b. Mr. Jarndyce; c. Richard in the middle of the novel; d. Mr. Jellyby

3. “Never have a Mission, my dear child.”

4. “It’s rather jog-trotty and humdrum. But it’ll do as well as any thing else!”

5. “Discipline must be maintained.”                         

6. “An East wind is blowing.”

B. Social critique? Institutions and professions are skewered but reform is ridiculed too, and family is not necessarily a haven.

7. Which of the following social institutions is not condemned in Bleak House?

a. medicine                            

b. the law                               

c. charitable organizations (church, philanthropy)

d. Parliament and local governments

8. Family and broken homes. Who among the following is not an orphan, or missing one parent?

a. Ada                                     

b. Allan Woodcourt               

c. Richard      

d. George

e. Esther                                 

f. Caddy Jellyby        

g. Jo                                                   

9. At the end, Mrs. Jellyby gives up her efforts in Africa to focus on an English concern that is portrayed as equally ludicrous. What is it?

a. women’s rights                  

b. the abolition of slavery                  

c. Socialism

C. Oddities and Loose Ends

10. True or False? The heroine’s real name is not Esther Summerson, but Esther Hawdon.  T / F

11. In a novel where much of the action takes place in the fog, the weirdest meteorological phenomenon actually comes from human sources. Which one of the following passages does not describe the death of Mr. Krook by spontaneous combustion?

a. “See how the soot’s falling. Confound the stuff, it won’t blow off—smears, like black fat!”

b. “Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes—gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun.”

c. “’Don’t you observe,’ says Mr. Snagsby, pausing to sniff and taste the air a little, ‘don’t you observe, Mr. Weevle, that you’re—not to put too fine a point upon it—that you’re rather greasy here, sir?’”

d. “’What, in the Devil’s name is this?’ … A thick, yellow liquor defiles them, which is offensive to the touch and sight, and more offensive to the smell. A stagnant, sickening oil, with some natural repulsion in it that makes them both shudder.”

12. Why is Lady Dedlock startled to see Esther in church one day? Choose the correct reply.

a. Esther bears a striking resemblance to her, as much as a daughter might (but Lady D. thinks her own secret child died in infancy).

b. Lady D. mistakes Esther for Hortense, the French maid she has fired, and who has vowed to bring her down in revenge.

c. Lady D. is surprised because Esther, a prominent atheist, is not known to frequent places of worship.

13. True or False? At one point, Lord Leicester is described as “a magnificent freezer.”   T/F

14. True or False? The last scene portrays the adult Esther on a moonlit porch with a loving husband who asks her, “Don’t you know that you are prettier than you ever were?”     T/F

ANSWERS

1. d. 

2. e.

3. d.

4. c.

5. a.

6. b.

7. a.

8. f.

9. a.

10.  True

11. b.

12. a.

13. False.  He is described as “a magnificent refrigerator”!

14. True

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Keep a green bough in your heart…

… and a singing bird will come.*

The sunny weather makes this a perfect day for a Quilt Show on my back porch! Today I’m unveiling the brand-new “Seattle Quilt” no. 4, which sports a green Seahawks T-shirt in its center, alongside “Seattle Quilt” no. 3 (with a navy blue Seahawk jersey) and “Seattle Quilt” no. 2, an homage to West Seattle. All three are available now!

*Proverb recounted in Neurodharma, by Rick Hanson.