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It’s time, once again, to GO GREEN or Go Home.  It’s our 2nd annual, 17-question St. Patrick Literary Quiz. (To see last year’s quiz, click here.)  All questions have to do with Irish stuff– Irish writers, Irish-American writers, Irish characters, or even just random Irish literary references.  Answers follow. We wish you all the luck o’ the Irish!

1. For James Joyce aficionados, what is the significance of June 16,1904?

a. the birthday of Joyce’s daughter Lucia
b. the day Ulysses is set
c. the day that Michael Furey (from “The Dead”) died after waiting in the rain outside Gretta’s window

2. In the Harry Potter series, what is the name of the Irish-born Gryffindor student and best friend of Dean Thomas?Seamus_FinnigansG

a. Bartemius Crouch Jr.
b. Colin Creevey
c. Seamus Finnigan

3.  In The Secret of Roan Inish (based on the the book The Secret of Ron Mor Skerry, by Rosalie K. Fry) is inspired by Irish legend of skin-shedding seals who become human. What are these seals called?

a. corkles
b. cormorants
c. selkies

4. What is the full name of Oscar Wilde?

a.  Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde
b.  Oscar Felix O’Connor Wilde
c.  Oscar Sullivan McConville Stuart Wilde

5. In Yeats’ poem “The Wild Swans at Coole,” how many swans does the narrator see during his earlier visit to Coole Park?

a.  46
b.  59
c.  99

6. Irish author Eoin Colfer is best known for penning which book series?

a. Artemis Fowl
b. Warriors
c. Cirque du Freak

Gulliver's challenge

7. In Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, the Lilliputians are at war with a race of people over how to open eggs.  The Lilliputians prefer to open the little end.  Which race of people are also known as “Big-Enders”?

a.  Brobdignagians
b.  Blefescudians
c.  Laputans

8.  Why get off the topic of Gulliver so swiftly?  (Pun, pun…)  What is the name of the race of intelligent horses in the last part of GT?

a.  Houyhnhnms
b. Struyldbrugs
c. Yahoos

9. Which of the following is the name of a Marian Keyes novel?

a. Mango
b. Strawberry
c. Watermelon

10. Seamus Heaney died last year, on August 30, 2013. According to his son Michael, minutes before he died, he sent his last words to his wife via text message.  The message?  The Latin words “Noli timere.”  What does that mean in English?

a. “It’s time.”
b. “Don’t be afraid.”
c. “This is not the end.”

11. Which Irish-born author wrote The Country Girls Trilogy?

a. Edna O’Brien
b. Maeve Binchy
c. Emily Lawless

12. How does the ending to George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion differ from that of the musical/ film My Fair Lady?

a. Pygmalion: Professor Henry Higgins gets into a boating accident and dies; My Fair Lady, he survives the accident.
b. Pygmalion: Eliza Doolittle rejects Higgins; My Fair Lady: Higgins realizes he misses her, and she comes back to him.
c. Pygmalion: Eliza married Colonel Pickering; My Fair Lady: Eliza marries Freddy Eynsford-Hill

13.  In his song “Rave On,” Van Morrison alludes to which of the following poets?

a. John Donne
b. Walt Whitman
c. William Butler Yeats
d. All of the above

14. Which Irish-born mutant superhero had a brief tenure with the X-Men?

a. Banshee
b. Gambit
c. Havoc

15. In Oscar Wilde’s novel, who is the painter of the titular picture of Dorian Gray?

a. Alan Campbell
b. Lord Henry Wolton
c. Basil Hallward

16.  In Hamlet, which character swears “by Saint Patrick”?

a. Ophelia
b. Hamlet
c. Polonius

17. Complete this James Joyce quotation: “The demand I make of my reader is that he should devote ______________ to reading my books.”

a. “one hour a day”
b. “three days a week”
c. “his whole life”

Answers:

  1.  b. the day Ulysses is set
  2. c. Seamus Finnigan
  3. c. selkies
  4. a.  Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde
  5. b. 59
  6. a. Artemis Fowl
  7. b.  Blefescudians
  8. a.  Houyhnhnms
  9. c. Watermelon
  10. b. Don’t be afraid
  11. a. Edna O’Brien
  12. b. In My Fair Lady, Eliza returns to Higgins, but in Shaw’s original version, she leaves him
  13. d. All of the above
  14. a. Banshee
  15. c. Basil Hallward
  16. b. Hamlet (Act I, sc. 5, while talking to Horatio)
  17. c. “his whole life”

How’d You Do?

15-17 Correct: Pot o’ Gold!

11-14 Correct: Shamrock-star!

6-10 Correct: Lucky Guesser

2-5 Correct: Green around the Gills

0-1 Correct: Potato Famine

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So, the new film version of The Great Gatsby just opened.  And Mark is currently teaching Fitzgerald’s novel in his AP class.  And this is a blog devoted to fiction. Sounds like a readymade excuse for a Great Gatsby post!  (Or two!  Or three!)  And what better place to start than the title?

Now, we mentioned this in a previous post (but don’t click back just yet!  We’re having a quiz in a moment!), but it bears repeating:  Fitzgerald was no fan of the title The Great Gatsby. “The title is only fair,” he is credited with saying, “rather bad than good.”  Instead, Fitzgerald has a bunch of other titles he was considering.  Try to guess which of the following were actual possible titles for The Great Gatsby:Gatsby Logo 1

  1. On the Road to West Egg
  2. First Impressions
  3. Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night
  4. The High-Bouncing Lover
  5. Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires
  6. They Don’t Build Statues to Businessmen
  7.  Under the Red, White, and Blue
  8. They Who Got Shot

Of those winners listed above, only 1, 4, 5, and 7 were actual titles Fitzgerald considered for Gatsby.  As for the others: First Impressions was a possible title for Pride and Prejudice; though it would fit Fitzgerlad’s Manhattan, Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night was title of the article upon which the film Saturday Night Fever was based;  They Don’t Build Statues to Businessmen (also fitting for Gatsby) was a working title for Valley of the Dolls; and They Who Got Shot was a possible title for (wait for it) Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.

Incidentally, as a title for Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald was especially partial to either Trimalchio or Trimalchio in West Egg– with “Trimalchio” being the name of a character in the Roman novel The Satyricon. Now, Trimalchio is a wealthy man who throws extravagant parties, so the name does fit the character Gatsby.  The problem, of course, is that maybe 3.7% of the populace knows that.

(I’m reminded of that anecdote Nabokov wrote in the foreword to his memoir Speak, Memory; apparently, Nabokov wanted to call it Speak, Mnemosyne, after the Greek goddess of memory, but his editor warned him that “little old ladies would not want to ask for a book whose title they could not pronounce.”  Good advice, there.)

And why didn’t Fitzgerald like The Great Gatsby as a title?  Apparently, he had a problem with the “great” part.  As he explpained to his editor, Max Perkins: “There is no emphasis, even ironically, on his greatness or lack of it.”  (Ummm… really, F. Scott?  “No emphasis” on Gatsby’s greatness?  Did you actually read your novel?)

Ultimately, Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda, along with his editor, talked Fitzgerald into The Great Gatsby. And for that, I feel I can speak on behalf of millions of readers when I say, “*Whew!*”  Honestly, do you think ANYONE in 2013 would be dressing up in flapper costunes to see the premier of a movie called Trimalchio?  Or On the Road to West Egg?

Just goes to show that sometimes artists really don’t know what’s best for their own works of art.  I mean… High-Bouncing Lover?  For real???

While we’re on the subject, here are some other great stories about titles…

  • In addition to the bizarre They Who Got Shot, Ernest Hemingway had at least thirty other working titles for A Farewell to Arms, including the following: The World’s Room; World Enough and Time; The Italian Journey; The Italian Prodigal; Love Is a Fervent Fire, Kindled without Desire; Disorder and Early Sorrow; Death Once Dead; If You Must Love; A World to See; A Patriot’s Progress; The Carnal Education; The Grand Tour; The Sentimental Education of Frederic Henry and (the most curious of all) I Have Committed Fornication But That Was in Another Country, and Besides the Wench Is Dead.
  • Great story about the movie Field of Dreams: the film, which features former baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson, was based on W. P. Kinsella’s book Shoeless Joe.  Test audiences, however, thought the title was misleading; they thought the film was going to be a movie about a homeless person.  The studio suggested Field of Dreams.  Luckily, author Kinsella didn’t mind, since his publisher originally came up with Shoeless Joe.  The title Kinsella had wanted: Dream Field.
  • Many artists have mined the works of Shakespeare for titles. Macbeth inspired William Faulkner (The Sound and the Fury), Kurt Vonnegut (Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow) and Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes). Aldous Huxley found a Brave New World in The Tempest.  Sting named his second solo album Nothing Like The Sun after Sonnet 130. And one of Leo Tolstoy’s working titles for War and Peace was All’s Well That Ends Well.
  • On a related note, Star Trek writers really seem to love the Bard: Star Trek VI was subtitled The Undiscovered Country (from Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech); “Dagger of the Mind” and “All Our Yesterdays” (Macbeth) and “Thine Own Self” (Hamlet) are all names of Star Trek episodes.
  • Any frustrated Sporcle enthusiast now knows that, in Britain, the first Harry Potter book is entitled Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone— which author J.K. Rowling prefers to the Americanized Sorcerer’s Stone. But did you know the sixth book was supposed to be called Harry Potter and the High-Bouncing Wizard?    Kidding!

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Just under the wire (and perhaps the mistletoe)… a literary Christmas quiz, one that will require you to use your (egg)-noggin!  Happy holidays to everyone!

  1. In O. Henry’s short story “Gift of the Magi,” what is the name of the woman who sold her hair to get a Christmas gift for her husband?
  2. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, during his Harry’s first Christmas at Hogwarts, what gift—a Potter family heirloom—does Harry receive via an anonymous Dumbledore?
  3. What Shakespeare play is named after the Feast of the Epiphany, which takes place on January 6th (the day, according to some scholars, when the play was first performed)?
  4. What is the name of Scrooge’s former employer, the proprietor of a warehouse who would host Christmas balls?
  5. In John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, the narrator describes how Owen Meany, during one holiday season, played a role in a Christmas pageant and a role in a  version of A Christmas Carol. What were these two roles?
  6. I am an American poet who wrote a poem called “Christmas Trees (A Christmas Circular Letter),” but you probably know me better for that other wintry poem, the one about keeping promises on the darkest evening of the year. Who am I?
  7. I am a classic American novel which ends with the line, “So we beat on boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly to the past.”  This Christmas, I was supposed to get 3D movie treatment (thanks to director Baz Luhrman), but the studios decided to postpone the film’s release until the summer.  I am who?
  8. In The Catcher in the Rye, which historical figure is Phoebe Caulfield reportedly playing in her school’s Christmas pageant?
  9. John Milton, author of “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity,” is better known for what other religious poem, about the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden?
  10. Chris Van Allsburg, the author of children’s books such as Jumanji and Zathura, is also the author of which Christmas classic?
  11. Which now-classic Christmas movie—about a boy and his BB gun—is based on a book of short stories called In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, written by Jean Shepherd?
  12. Joe Christmas is the main protagonist of what William Faulkner novel with a decidedly non-Christmas-y title?
  13. And what non-Christmas-y Yeats’  poem ends with the line, “Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born”?
  14. The song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”—recorded by artists such as Frank Sinatra, Sarah Maclachlan, and Bette Midler—is based on the poem “Christmas Bells,”  written by which American poet (famous for “Paul Revere’s Ride”)?
  15. According to the Foreword of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, which character reportedly dies on Christmas Day 1952?
  16. What is the name of the young boy who is one of the two main characters in Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory”?  (Hint: he shares his name of a famous Christmas elf.)
  17. In what C.S. Lewis novel does Santa Claus give children named Peter, Susan and Lucy “tools, not  toys”—including a sword and a red shield emblazoned with the picture of a lion?
  18. What is the official title of  Clement C. Moore’s “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”?
  19. I am an American poet whose poem “The Savior must have been a docile Gentleman”—which notes how Jesus was born in Bethlehem on ”so cold a Day”—has two of my trademarks:  it’s brief (40 words) and full of dashes!
  20. Boris Karloff, who narrated the animated special “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” famously played what famous movie monster, originally created by Mary Shelley?
  21. What Scottish poet wrote the poem “Auld Lang Syne” in 1788?
  22. What Christmas ballet is based on an 1816 short story by M. T. A. Hoffman about a toy that comes to life?
  23. What Irish poet, famous for “Don’t Go Gently into That Good Night,” also wrote “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”?
  24. I am the author of the one-act play The Long Christmas Dinner, but you probably know me better by my Pulitzer-prize winning play Our Town. I am who?
  25. Which Christmas carol began as a poem, written by Father Joseph Mohr in 1816, which was then set to music by his friend Franz Gruber?

Answers:

1. Della

2. Invisibility Cloak

3. Twelfth Night

4. Fezziwig

5. Baby Jesus, Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

6. Robert Frost

7. The Great Gatsby

8. Benedict Arnold

9. Paradise Lost

10. The Polar Express

11. A Christmas Story

12. Light in August

13. “The Second Coming”

14. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

15. Lolita herself (Mrs. Richard Schiller). She died while giving birth to a stillborn child.

16. Buddy

17. The Lion,The Witch, and The Wardrobe

18. “A Visit from St. Nicholas”

19. Emily Dickinson

20. Frankenstein’s monster

21. Robert Burns

22. The Nutcracker

23. Dylan Thomas

24. Thorton Wilder

25. “Silent Night”

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We’ve been reading a lot of really fun blogs this month, and one idea we loved was posting our top five “Desert Island Books”… in other words, if we’re going to be stranded on a deserted island for an indeterminate amount of time, what are some books we’d like to have with us?  We even asked our twins to weigh in on the decision.  Here’s what we came up with:

Mark:

  1. Any Shakespeare Anthology (There are a thirty-eight plays, and I’ve only read maybe ten of them.  This might be a good time to catch up on some Titus Andronicus.)
  2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (My favorite of the series. Not the longest, but then again, all those Shakespeare plays will take up a lot of my time…)
  3. Paradise Lost by John Milton (Sheri says including Milton AND Shakespeare on this list makes me sound stuffy, but every time I read Paradise Lost, I find something new.)
  4. The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by J.W. Rinzler (And every time I read this, I find something new.)
  5. The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle (Now, I’ve never read this, but a good, good friend has been insisting that I read it for a while now. I realize I’m taking a risk here, because I may not like it. And then I’ll be kicking myself for not bringing along a copy of 101 Ways to Get Off a Deserted Island…)   

Sheri:

  1. A Place to Call Home by Deborah Smith (This is the book I’ve read and re-read more times than any other)
  2. Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes (All of Keyes’ novels are great, but this one was my first and favorite.  She’s the master of Irish wit and storytelling.)
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (the book that made a reader—and a writer—out of me)
  4. Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (No I am NOT embarrassed to have this on my list!  I’m alone on a desert island.  Who do I need to impress? A great romantic story—this is my favorite in the Bridgerton series—is like a warm, comforting blanket.)
  5. The Bible (Reasons should be obvious!)

Our 12-year-old son:

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (Never gets old)
  2. Warriors 6: The Darkest Hour by Erin Hunter (the best of the series)
  3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (best book ever written!)
  4. LEGO Club Magazine (Does this count as a book?)
  5. Any choose-your-own-adventure book (It’s like having many stories in one!)

Our other 12-year-old  son:

  1. The Candy Makers by Wendy Mass (awesome characters)
  2. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (The most clever plot ever!)
  3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (I love the emotion and action in this story)
  4. Loser by Jerry Spinelli (The most inspirational story by my favorite author)
  5. Mr. Terupt Falls Again by Rob Buyea (I’m in the middle of this book and I have to see how it ends!)

Let’s hear your desert island picks!

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