Picayune Pop Quiz for Literature Lovers, by @JackAUrquhart

  1. This author was the first Arabic-language writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature.
    1. Gibran Khalil Gibran
    2. Ahlam (or Ahlem) Mosteghanemi
    3. Tawfiq al-Hakim
    4. Naguib Mahfouz
  2. This American writer became U.S. Consul to Liverpool because of his connection to President Franklin Pierce (they were classmates at Bowdoin College).
    1. Herman Melville
    2. Nathaniel Hawthorne
    3. Walt Whitman
    4. Edgar Allan Poe
  3. This Internationally acclaimed American author wrote screenplays for Alfred Hitchcock and Elia Kazan.
    1. John Steinbeck
    2. Ernest Hemingway
    3. F. Scott Fitzgerald
    4. Gore Vidal
  4. Which of the following authors never changed his/her name?
    1. Oscar Wilde
    2. Joseph Conrad
    3. Lewis Carroll
    4. George Eliot
    5. Voltaire
    6. Gustave Flaubert
  5. This famous English author invented the prototype of the modern game, “SCRABBLE®.”
    1. Lewis Carroll
    2. Charles Dickens
    3. Mark Twain
    4. Jane Austen
  6. A writer/researcher theorized that this famous English author might have been Jack the Ripper.
    1. Charles Darwin
    2. Charles Dickens
    3. Lewis Carroll
    4. Wilkie Collins
  7. Ernest Hemingway had which of the following phobias?
    1. Gynophobia – Fear of women.
    2. Bathmophobia – Fear of stairs or steep slopes.
    3. Venustraphobia – Fear of beautiful women.
    4. Glossophobia – Fear of public speaking
  8. This famous mystery author suffered from dysgraphia (unable to write by hand) and dictated all her novels.
    1. Agatha Christie
    2. Daphne Du Maurier
    3. PD James
    4. Dorothy L. Sayers
  9. This American poet was deployed by the U.S. government to Russia to mediate with Nikita Khrushchev.
    1. Carl Sandburg
    2. Robert Lowell
    3. William Carlos Williams
    4. Robert Frost
  10. This American writer spent 8 months in a mental institution after pleading “psychological disability” in a case involving serious criminal charges.
    1. Allen Ginsberg
    2. Ezra Pound
    3. Hilda (H. D.) Doolittle
    4. John Berryman
  11. This American poet befriended Sigmund Freud and became his patient in order to understand and express his/her bisexuality. 
    1. Allen Ginsberg
    2. Hilda (H.D.) Doolittle
    3. Sylvia Plath
    4. Hart Crane
  12. Which of the following writers has her own line of greeting cards with Hallmark?
    1. Maya Angelou
    2. E. Annie Proulx
    3. Anne Tyler
    4. Alice Walker
  13. Which of the following American writers has never won a Pulitzer Prize?
    1. Margaret Mitchell
    2. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
    3. Joyce Carol Oates
    4. Eugene O’Neill
  14. Which of the following writers is the only woman to receive the Man Booker Prize twice?
    1. Iris Murdoch
    2. Hilary Mantel
    3. Nadine Gordimer
    4. Arundhati Roy
  15. Which of the following writers wrote a novel that became the basis for a Lerner and Loew musical?
    1. Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
    2. Victor Hugo
    3. James A. Michener 
    4. George Bernard Shaw 
  16. The following statement has been attributed to which of the following authors:  “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”
    1. Lord Byron
    2. Sylvia Plath
    3. Hart Crane
    4. Ernest Hemingway
  17. Which American author offered this advice to aspiring writers:  “Write in the third-person–unless a really distinctive first-person voice presents itself irresistibly.”
    1. Jonathan Franzen
    2. Richard Ford
    3. Joan Didion
    4. Jeffrey Eugenides
  18. This famous Irish author’s first book was rejected 22 times and sold fewer than 400 copies (120 of those to the author himself).
    1. Edmund Burke
    2. Samuel Beckett
    3. C.S. Lewis
    4. James Joyce
  19. Best known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield as well as numerous poems, this Irish writer is sometimes credited with being the source of the phrase “goody-two-shoes.”
    1. Sean O’Casey
    2. Edmund Burke
    3. Oliver Goldsmith
    4. Jonathan Swift
  20. Which writers’ work was published posthumously following his/her death in a Nazi concentration camp.
    1. Irène Némirovsky
    2. Anne Frank
    3. Edna Ferber
    4. Isaac Bashevis Singer

Bonus Question.  Can you identify this youthful photograph of a 19th century literary giant?  

Leo Tolstoi

Is it…

A.  Victor Hugo
B.  Gustave Flaubert
C.  Leo Tolstoy
D.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Answer Key:

  1. D (Naguib Mahfouz; won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988)
  2. B (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  3. A (John Steinbeck; “Lifeboat” 1944 for Hitchcock and “Viva Zapata!” 1952 for Kazan)
  4. F (Gustave Flaubert) Note: Oscar Wilde changed his name to “Sebastian Melmoth” in 1897; Joseph Conrad was born Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski in 1857; Lewis Carroll was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson in 1832; George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans in 1819; Voltaire was born Francois Marie Arouet in 1694
  5. A (Lewis Carroll; An early entry in Carroll’s diary anticipated the game as early as 1880.  The entry notes that, ‘A game might be made of letters, to be moved about on a chess-board till they form words.’  On New Year’s Day in 1895 Carroll wrote to Winnifred Hawke and told her of a game of his own invention which is very similar to SCRABBLE®)
  6. C (Lewis Carroll.  In his 1996 book, Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend, Richard Wallace proposed a theory that British author Lewis Carroll and his colleague Thomas Vere Bayne were responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders.)
  7. D (Glossophobia–also known as Peiraphobiafear of public speaking)
  8. A (Agatha Christie)
  9. D (Robert Frost; deployed to the Soviet Union by President John F. Kennedy in 1962)
  10. A (Allen Ginsberg; In June 1949, Ginsberg was arrested as an accessory to crimes carried out by friends, who had stored stolen goods in his apartment.  Ginsberg entered a plea of psychological disability and was admitted to the Columbia Presbyterian Psychiatric Institute.)
  11. B (Hilda [H.D.] Doolittle; H.D. was Freud’s patient during the 1930s)
  12. A (Maya Angelou)
  13. C (Joyce Carol Oates)
  14. B (Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall, 2009 and Bring Up the Bodies, 2012 )
  15. A (Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette; her novel Gigi became the musical of the same name; And D (George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion became “My Fair Lady”)
  16. A (George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron)
  17. A (Jonathan Franzen; The Question cites Rule no. 4 on Franzen’s list)
  18. D (James Joyce; question references Joyce’s first book, Dubliners)
  19. C (Oliver Goldsmith; The anonymously authored, The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, a children’s story, was published by the John Newbery Company in London in 1765.  The story was later attributed to the Irish author Oliver Goldsmith, though this has been disputed.)
  20. A (Irène Némirovsky for Suite françaiseAnd B (Anne Frank  for Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl)

Bonus:  C (Leo Tolstoy, 1848, age 20)

Scoring Table:
15 to 21 correct: Picayune Pundit
8 to 14 correct: Picayune Proficient
5 to   7 correct: Picayune Pedestrian (Read more Wikipedia)
4 to  0 correct: Picayune Pitiful (Consult USA Today, FOX News)

About jaurquhart

Jack Andrew Urquhart was born in the American South. Following undergraduate work at the University of Florida, Gainesville, he taught in Florida's public schools. He earned a Master of Arts degree in English, Creative Writing, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was the winner of the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Award for Fiction (1991). His work has appeared online at Clapboard House Literary Journal, Crazyhorse Literary Journal, and Standards: The International Journal of Multicultural Studies. He is the author of So They Say, a collection of self-contained, inter-connected stories and the short story, They Say You Can Stop Yourself Breathing. Formerly a writing instructor at the University of Colorado’s Writing Program, Mr. Urquhart was, until 2010, a senior analyst for the Judicial Branch of California. He resides in Washington State.
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3 Responses to Picayune Pop Quiz for Literature Lovers, by @JackAUrquhart

  1. termitespeaker says:

    Well, you’ve been busy@ Did you make this up yourself? I used to have (probably still have it) a book full of this sort of questions, and I couldn’t answer a one of them! I got seven of yours right, and that included some educated guesses! The one I was the most sure of was 10 (I said Ezra Pound, because I know he was incarcerated, but probably for more than 8 months and I think it was for treason). Good thing I didn’t become a college English teacher as I started out to do!

  2. Karen Berner says:

    That was a great quiz. Lots of fun, though I fear I did not score as well as I would have hoped. 🙂

  3. marydpierce says:

    Oh, did this bring back happy memories of TCA days!! I got 9 questions wrong! These were great. More, more, more…. 😀

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