Monday, April 22, 2013

Literary quiz redux; Earth Day 2013

 I know some of you are jonesin' for another crack at a quiz from the NYPL "Plot Thickens" knowledge cards, so here's Round 2 to get your brain in gear for the week ahead. Answers after the jump. And in honor of Earth Day, you might want to pick up a deck of The Earth-Friendly Garden Knowledge Cards: A Quiz Deck on Green Gardening Essentials. (Images from today's google doodle, which shows the cycle of seasons through the rising and falling sun and moon. You can play and pause the moon and sun on four different images.)
  1. This famous short story centers on Gabriel Conroy, a college teacher who spends an evening with his wife, Gretta, at his music-loving aunts' Christmas party, and later reflects movingly on mortality.
  2. In Depression-era California, a drifter and the wife of a roadside cafe owner plot to murder her husband. This tautly constructed crime novel was banned in Boston because of the very steamy sex scenes.
  3. The setting of this play is a Second Empire drawing room in which three characters—Garcin (a political coward who abused his wife), Inez (a lesbian who was killed by her lover), and Estelle (who murdered her illegitimate child)—are condemned to coexist in mutual recrimination and unrequited lust.
  4. In this novel, which focuses on six generations of the remarkable Buendia family, the mythical town of Macondo and its citizens serve as a microcosm not only of Latin America, but also of all humanity.
  5. In this erudite mystery, which is set in a medieval Benedictine monastery, the monk William of Baskerville investigates a series of murders.
  6. In this long and complex play, the regulars at Harry Hope's saloon, a seedy waterfront bar in Manhattan, find solace in fantasies about attaining better lives until Hickey, a traveling salesman, arrives and begins puncturing their dreams.
  7. The hypocrisies of fashionable Victorian society are shrewdly skewered in this dazzlingly witty drawing room comedy, in which an English parliamentarian must extricate himself from a blackmail scheme and then justify his past misdeeds to his unsuspecting wife.
  8. In this novel clearly inspired by the author's own turbulent marriage, Anthony Patch and his wife, Gloria, heedlessly and self-destructively fritter away their nights and days in alcohol-fueled revelry and debauchery as they wait for Anthony's inheritance upon the death of his wealthy grandfather.
  9. In this novel, the aging Gustav von Aschenbach, a highly esteemed German writer on holiday in Venice, whose life has been one of strict discipline and sober self-restraint, yields to an unbridled passion for the "perfect beauty" of Tadzio, a 14-year-old Polish boy.
  10. In this short story, a once-celebrated Parisian chef works as a cook for two pious Norwegian sisters who know nothing of her illustrious past. Upon winning the lottery, she uses her winnings to prepare a sumptuous feast for the sisters and the devout followers of their late father, an ascetic pastor.

  1. "The Dead," 1914, by James Joyce.
  2. The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1934, by James M. Cain
  3. No Exit, 1944, by Jean-Paul Sartre
  4. One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1967, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  5. The Name of the Rose, 1980, by Umberto Eco
  6. The Iceman Cometh, first performed 1946, by Eugene O'Neill
  7. An Ideal Husband, 1895, by Oscar Wilde
  8. The Beautiful and the Damned, 1922, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  9. Death in Venice, 1912, by Thomas Mann
  10. "Babette's Feast," 1952, by Isak Dinesen
"We hope you did well!"


  1. Yipe! Six out of ten. I'm switching to an easier astrophysics!

  2. I hate to brag (contrary to what my wife and friends say) but I got 8 out of 10. Somehow though I failed to recognize the plot of No Exit, which I’ve read twice and even seen in performance. Maybe it’s a positive sign that I’ve consigned Sartre to the scrap heap of my youth. It’s nice to see The Beautiful and Damned on the list; it isn’t Fitzgerald’s most compelling novel, but I think it contains his finest prose.

  3. Feel better, Tastes Like a Penny, I got 3 out of 10 too!

    1. Although I would like to believe otherwise, if you quizzed on the Garden Knowledge cards, I might not have done any better. Thanks for keeping us thinking!

  4. Alas, I scored a 3 as well! These were tough:)

  5. Seen on Flavorwire: "I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I've eaten...Nevertheless, they have made me." Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Somehow comparing The Iliad to a tuna fish sandwich seems weird.

  6. Yesterday I voted in the caption contest--there were 8 votes.
    Today there are 2 votes--has mine been erased?
    Did this voting device come from some Banana Republic (not the store)?

    1. It comes from Google. Yikes. I will have a look.

  7. I got five right (2,4,5,6,9), even though (similar to Andre, above) I've read 1 & 3. That's one nice thing about getting old; rereading is often an entirely new adventure.

    1. Someone should commission a study to find why Sartre does not stay in the brain.