Wednesday 3 January 2024

Quiz answers

 The Pale Usher’s New Year Literary Quiz 

Thanks for taking part. Here are the answers (if you need them):

Warm-up round:

Cold Comfort Farm         Stella Gibbons
Malarky         Anakana Schofield

The Young Visiters         Daisy Ashford

Some Tame Gazelle         Barbara Pym

The Notebook         Ágota Kristóf

Riders         Jilly Cooper

Girl, Woman, Other         Bernardine Evaristo

A Good Man is Hard to Find Flannery O’Connor

Nuns and Soldiers         Iris Murdoch

Pond         Claire-Louise Bennett

Total 10 points

Now, on to round one.

Round 1


For two points what, apart from their varying degrees of celebrity, connects the following?
    Lord Byron
      Gabriele D'Annunzio

    George Formby

    J. G. Farrell

    Sigmund Freud

    Lilian Gish


    Edna St. Vincent Millay

They were all born with a caul. That’s all.

Total 2 points

2. Curious deaths of noteworthy writers.

Two points for each correct identification. Which writer gave up the ghost . . .

a) after swallowing a martini olive toothpick on a cruise liner? 
The American writer Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941) died of internal bleeding after swallowing the toothpick along with the cocktail. It's not so unusual - since 1900, and quite incredibly, more than 17,000 people have met their end thus, and is there any more stylish way to die accidentally?
b) after choking on the plastic cap of his inhaler?  
Tennessee Williams

c) after being felled by a tree struck by lightning in the Avenue des Champs-Élysées the  day after he expressed a fear of meeting precisely such an unlikely end?
Ödön von Horváth, poor lamb
d) in 1973, after walking into the sea near her home in Brighton? 
Ann Quin
e) after claiming to have drunk 18 straight whiskies?  
Dylan Thomas

f) suddenly, at the age of fifty-two, in digs, while drinking brandy to celebrate a BBC  commission? 
 Julian Maclaren-Ross

Total 12 points

3. Man of letters.

Virginia Woolf described him as 'more repulsive than words can express, and malignant into the bargain'; Lytton Strachey called him 'a worm' and F. R. Leavis thought him 'the epitome of all that men mean by the word philistine'. Which influential 1920s editor and critic attracted such obloquy? (Two points)

It was J C Squire. If you ever get the chance do read his extraordinary modernist poem The Stockyards, which rivals The Waste Land. Really.

For a bonus point:  The editor in question was also an acknowledged expert on what indigenous dairy product?

Stilton Cheese (Unrelatedly, Cyril Connolly's very odd father was an acknowledged authority on two subjects: Belgian paté and African Land Snails)

Total 3 points

4. What do poets know?

Which pre-eminent 19th century poet believed that railway engines ran in grooves and that all cigars, regardless of size or quality, cost the same? 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

"When I went by the first train from Liverpool to Manchester (1830), I thought that the wheels ran in a groove. It was a black night and there was such a vast crowd round the train at the station that we could not see the wheels. Then I made this line:  'Let the great world spin for down the ringing grooves of change.' (‘Locksley Hall’). 

I've forgotten where I read about the cigars - perhaps it was Auden's distinctly lukewarm introduction to a selection of Tennyson's verse in which he describes the venerated Laureate as 'possibly the stupidest of all poets.'

Total 2 points

5. A handy coinage.

'Kitchen sink' was the critical term applied to much downbeat realist writing of the 1950s. Where did this useful phrase originate? (Two points for a complete answer)

It was David Sylvester, on a painting of that title by John Bratby. And here it is:

Total 2 points

6. Best. Limerick. Ever.

For two points, which acclaimed historian wrote the following lines?

Seven ages, first puking and mewling,
Then very pissed off with one's schooling,
Then fucks, and then fights,
Then judging chaps' rights,
Then sitting in slippers, then drooling.

Total 2 points

Robert Conquest, master limericist. Here's another one by him:

               There was an old bastard named Lenin
               Who did two or three million men in.
               That's a lot to have done in
               But where he did one in
               That old bastard Stalin did ten in.

7. Alliteration dept. (1)

Two points for each author you correctly identify:

a) Academics, actors who lecture,
Apostles of architecture,
Ancient gods-of-the-abdomen men,
Angst-pushers, adherents of Zen,
Alastors, Austenites, A-test

Kingsley Amis 

b)  We had chaw chaw chops, chairs, chewing gum, the chicken-
        pox and china chambers
Universally provided by this soft-soaping salesman.

James Joyce. It’s ‘The Ballad of Persse O’Reilly’ from Finnegans Wake

c) Lock the door Lariston, lion of Liddisdale,
Lock the door Lariston, Lowther comes on,
The Armstrongs are flying,
Their widows are crying
The Castledown's burning, and Oliver's gone.

A traditional Scottish song by James Hogg.

d) I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
          dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air.

Hopkins, who else? 

e) Womanhood, wanton, ye want;
       You're medelying, mastres, is manerles;
Plente of ill, of goodness slant,
         Ye rayll at ryot, recheles.

John Skelton. From the wonderfully nasty Womanhood, wanton, ye want.

Total 10 points

8.  What a camp Jungian chum of mine calls 'a coinkidinky'.

The wildly creative television cartoon series Adventure Time has two lead characters introduced in the credit sequence song of each episode as "Jake the dog and Finn the human". 

Jake and Finn share their names with two characters in which debut novel by which twentieth century author? (One point
each for the title of the novel and its author.)

Jake and Finn are two characters in Under the Net by Iris Murdoch. 
And here are various versions of the Adventure Time theme tune performed by the show's creator Pendleton Ward and others. 
Constantly astonishing.

Total 2 points

9. Playing Possum.

Perhaps Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett had T. S. Eliot in mind when they named the gorilla companion of the enigmatic shaman Naboo in the telly series The Mighty Boosh. What's the connection? (Two points)

Naboo's gorilla familiar is called Bollo. Old Possum used to send his chum Bonamy Dobrée no end of smutty racist doggerel about the African potentate King Bollo 'and his big black queen' who were 'so obscene / they shocked the folk of Golders Green.'  

Total 2 points

10. Handsome tribute, unsolicited.

Which poet said to which man of letters, after the memorial service for which other poet: 'Sir, you formed me!' (One point for each)

It was Phillip Larkin to Cyril Connolly at the memorial service for Sir John Betjeman. Larkin was presumably referring to Connolly’s role as editor of the influential wartime literary magazine Horizon.

Total 3 points

Running total 50 points

Round 2

11. Ouch.

One poet writes to another poet about a third poet on 5th September 1946. Name all three poets, with one point for each.

'I used to think that he knew how to put down good words. And now I have been reading  […], a poetry book. And I find in the words of this book there is a lot of poll  lis sill ab bick fuss sin ness (“the total generosity of original unforewarned fearful trust”),  and a lot of ad dough less scent sew dough Smith oller gee (“Oh, which are the actors,  which the audience?”), and a lot of Europe-falling-about-our ears and Oh-my-dearest and  playing with abstractions […] and your- eyes-are-mineshafts-to-your-heart and HELPLESS GESTURES  […] because HE CAN’T THINK WHAT TO SAY.'

Kinglsey Amis (again) to Phillip Larkin (again), writing about Stephen Spender.

Total 3 points

12. Nasty, very.

Which modernist English writer and painter reminded which modernist American writer of 'toe jam'? (One point for each writer, and a third point if you identify the volume in which the unflattering description appears.)

It was Wyndham Lewis who prompted this description by Ernest Hemingway in the latter’s memoir A Moveable Feast. 

Total 3 points

13. In praise of …

Through who or what is Christopher Smart (1722-1771) expressing his reverence in these lines? (2 points) 
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him. 
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way. 

For a bonus point, what was the category of Smart’s accommodation when he wrote the poetry (A Song to David and Jubilate Agno) by which he is remembered? 

It’s his cat Jeoffrey. And Smart was, at the time of writing, committed to an asylum.

Total 3 points

14. Book of the film.

In the French novel D'entre des mortes by the writing team of Boileau-Narcejac, a wealthy businessman named Gévigne employs an ex-cop called Flavières to follow his troubled wife  around the boulevards of pre-Occupation Paris.

In which film, adapted from the novel, are the two male characters named, respectively, Gavin Elster and 'Scotty' Ferguson (one point) and in which city is the film set (one point)?

Hithcock’s Vertigo, which was set in San Fransisco.

Total 2 points

15. Mind the gap.

Source the following breathless phrases (Two points for each)

a) 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespott edmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater—'

It's Ratty to Mole in The Wind in the Willows

b) Bothallchoractorschumminaroundgansumuminarumdrumstrumtruminahumpto dumpwaultopoofoolooderamaunsturnup

One of the ten thunderclaps in Finnegans Wake

c)   I'veneverbeensoinsultedinallmylife (clue - this comes from the only novel by a writer already featured in this quiz)

From The Rock Pool by Cyril Connolly

Total 6 points

16.  Audience reaction. 

Who was transfixed by what may have been ‘a hair in the gate’ during a matinee screening of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, later writing about the experience for an American magazine.

Virginia Woolf who was, with her friend T. S. Eliot, one of the founder  members of the London Film Society.

Total 2 points

17.  Of Man's First Disobedience, and the Fruit / Of that Forbidden Tree

Writer/director Armando Iannucci once observed that Milton's opening lines from Paradise Lost can be sung to the theme tune of which popular American cartoon series? 

The Flintstones

Flintstones. Meet the Flintstones. 
They're the modern stone age family. 
From the town of Bedrock, 
They're a page right out of history. 

Let's ride with the family down the street. 
Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet. 

When you're with the Flintstones 
Have a yabba dabba doo time. 
A dabba doo time. 
We'll have a gay old time. 

Total 2 points

18. Not a lot of people know that.

What precise London address was home to Sherlock Holmes, the world's only consulting detective? 

  It was 221 Baker Street. The 'B' is a later addition, and non-canonical.

Total 1 point

19.  Little known fact.

For two points, which celebrated poem, written in 1935, originally began in an early draft:  
    North, north, north 
    To the country of the Clyde and the Firth of Forth.  

For a bonus point, what’s the next line (which appears as the first line in the published poem)?

It’s ‘Night Mail’ by W. H. Auden. The first line of which in the published version goes ‘This is the Night Mail crossing the border’ . . .

Total 3 points

20.  A link to bygone days of yore.

To date ten British writers have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The first was Rudyard Kipling in 1907.  Name the other nine (with one point for each).

John Galsworthy (1932)
T.S. Eliot (1948)

Bertrand Russell (1950)

Winston Churchill (1953)

William Golding (1983)

Harold Pinter  (2005)

Doris Lessing  (2007)

 Kazuo Ishiguro (2017)

 Abdulrazak Gurnha (2021)

Elias Canetti (1981) was born in Bulgaria but, like T. S. Eliot, had become a naturalised British citizen by the time he was awarded the Prize. Does he count? 

Total 9 points

21.  Noms des plume.

Which eminent Victorian author published under the pseudonyms George Savage Fitz-Boodle, Michael Angelo Titmarsh, Théophile Wagstaff and C.J. Yellowplush, Esq. ? (One point)

Anthony Trollope

Total 1 point

22. What do the initials stand for? 

Two points for each complete name.

a) W. H. Auden

b)  J. M. Barrie

c)  P. D. James

d) C. S. Lewis

e)  J. K. Rowling

Wystan Hugh Auden, 

James Matthew Barrie, 

Phyllis Dorothy James, 

Clive Staples Lewis and 

Joanna Rowling (she made up the K, which stands for nothing. You get a point for knowing this).

Total 10 points

23. Dead trims

Each of the following celebrated writers has interesting hair. 
One point for each author you correctly identify.

(a) F. Scott Fitzgerald

(b) Ezra Pound

(c) Anthony Burgess

(d) Michel Houellebecq

(e) Antonin Artaud

Total 5 marks

Running total 100 points


That’s it. 

Your score

Under 20        It's only a quiz.  Just walk away, head held high, your reputation unsullied.

21-49               It's still only a quiz. Pretty good, I suppose. 

50-75               We both need to get out more.. 

Over 75          Hypocrite lecteur! – mon semblable, -mon frère!

There are still a few copies of Multiple Joyce left and they're likely to be valuable collector's items because they are, uniquely, unsigned.

Buy buy buy here here here: 

And here's a recording of me gassing on about the links between Joyce and Anthony Burgess with Andrew Biswell of the Burgess Foundation. Perfect easy listening for this time of the year. 


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