Two days ago I posted a quiz. If you want to test yourself, scroll quickly down past “Proxy Song” or click on Literary and Historical Quiz. Here are the answers.
01. “La Symphonie Pastorale”, by André Gide, was named after the subtitle of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony. Leo Tolstoy’s “The Kreutzer Sonata” was named for the subtitle of Beethoven’s Ninth Sonata for Violin and Piano. Are there others?
02. (a) “We” (Zamiatin) and “‘We’” (Lindbergh). (b) “The Invisible Man” (Wells) and “Invisible Man” (Ellison). (c) “Joy in the Morning”: in this case, the titles are actually identical.
03. Thirteen: Α, Β, Ε, Ζ, Η, Ι, Κ, Μ, Ν, Ο, Ρ, Τ, and Χ. However, three of them are pronounced completely differently: H (long a sound in Greek, more or less), P (r sound in Greek), and X (guttural kh sound in Greek). Also, Y comes close, because the Greek letter upsilon looks like a Y with its two top ends curved. Only eleven letters in the Cyrillic alphabet (Russian) look like Roman letters: A, B, C, E, H, K, M, O, P, T, and X. (Actually, the Cyrillic K has curls on the diagonal lines, but when written in block letters looks just like a Roman K. On the other hand, the Cyrillic Y (pronounced like U) has a tail like lower-case Roman y, even in block letters, which disqualifies it.) Five of them stand for different sounds. Thirteen Cyrillic letters look like Greek letters, and all but two are pronounced similarly.
04. Yes. German contains the letter ‘ß’, which is functionally equivalent to ‘ss’. Icelandic contains ‘ð’ and ‘þ’, representing the sounds of ‘th’ as in “the” and “thing”, respectively. They are the runic letters edh and thorn, and were used in Old English as well. Faeroese uses the edh but not the thorn. Danish, Norwegian, and Faeroese have ‘ø’. French and some Scandinavian languages use the ligatures ‘æ’ and ‘œ’, also found in Latin. Turkish uses an undotted and a dotted ‘i’. Leaving Europe now, Marshallese, the language of the Marshall Islanders in Micronesia, uses ‘&’ as a letter. Some African and Amerindian languages use various phonetic symbols, the Greek lower-case letter chi, a question mark without a dot, and so on – all within the context of the Roman alphabet.
05. Portuguese has the most: the acute, grave, and circumflex accents, tilde, cedilla, and diaeresis. (French uses all of these except the tilde.) Dutch doesn’t require any diacritical marks. Some may be used for phonetic spelling, foreign words, etc., but that’s true even in English. If we venture outside of Europe, we find Vietnamese, with nine diacritical marks. Some of them may be combined with others, so that there are seventeen different kinds of ‘a’ in Vietnamese.
06. The African ‘click’ languages in the Khoisan group. There are five clicks heard in Nama, the language of the Khoikhoi (“Hottentots”); the other three are represented by ‘o’ or ‘#’, ‘/’, and ‘?’. The language of the San (“Bushmen”) uses the letters ‘!’, ‘/’, ‘//’, and lower-case chi.
07. Hawaiian seems to be the champion of parsimony, with only twelve letters: A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U, and W.
08. A bat (chauve-souris, Fledermaus, letuchaya mish’). In Latin, a bat is vespertilio, related to vesper, evening.
09. a. Philip Melanchthon. Both Schwarzerd in German and Melanchthon in Greek can be translated “black earth”. b. Johannes Regiomontanus. Königsberg in German and Regiomontanus in Latin both signify “king’s mountain”. c. Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. Gheraerd in Dutch, Desiderius in Latin, and Erasmus in Greek all mean roughly “wanted” or “beloved”. d. Gerardus Mercator, inventor of the eponymous map projection. Kremer in German and Mercator in Latin mean “merchant”.
10. All the summer months ended in -idor, the fall months in -aire, the winter months in -ôse, and the spring months in -al. Thus the answer is Messidor, Thermidor, and Fructidor (the names derive from harvest, heat, and fruit, respectively). Although the French revolutionary calendar was in official use for only a little over 12 years, it has left its traces in Zola’s novel “Germinal” and lobster thermidor, among other things.
a. C.S. Lewis
b. J.M.W. Turner
c. W.H. Auden
d. P.G. Wodehouse
e. J.C. Penney
f. T.S. Eliot
g. J.R.R. Tolkien
h. E.E. Cummings
12. From place to place in the narrative, Cervantes mentions his putative source, Cid Hamet Benengeli (in the Spanish, Cide Hamete Benengeli).
13. From “Ulysses”, by James Joyce, in which we read, “Three quarks for Musther Mark.” Gell-Mann was hypothesizing three elementary particles, although since then, more have been required.
14. In the first book in the series, “The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu”, the title character is described as having a “smooth, hairless countenance”.
15. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” – John Keats, Endymion. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” – Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn. “Truth is always strange, stranger than fiction” – Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto XIV.
16. Louis XVIII of France (reigned 1814-1824), unless there’s some petty dynasty in the hinterlands that I’ve missed. If it weren’t for the Louis, the champion would be Carl XVI Gustaf, the current ruler of Sweden. It’s curious that, although XVII < XVIII, Louis XVII was Louis XVIII’s nephew. Louis XVII was the dauphin who died in durance under the Directory, after the French Revolution. His father was Louis XVI; his grandfather was another dauphin Louis. This Louis never reigned (his father Louis XV outlived him), but three of his sons became kings: Louis XVI (reigned 1774-1792), Louis XVIII (as above, a beneficiary of Napoleon’s defeat), and Charles X (succeeded Louis XVIII at his death). Just imagine, when Marie Antoinette called “Louis! Le dîner est servi!” what a stampede there must have been.
17. George I-IV (reigned 1714-1830, altogether). Edward I-III reigned almost as long as the Georges (1272-1377).
18. Ptolemy XIV, the last pharaoh before the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire. The Ramessids (pharaohs named Ramses) made it up to XII.
19. John XXIII (pope 1958-1963). He was the first pope to use that name since 1334. Note: this does not imply that there have been 23 popes named John.
20. There have been 36 Charleses, counting Carlos, Carl, and Carol. There were 23 Henrys. England had eight Henrys, Germany had seven Heinrichs, Castilla y León had four Henrys, and France had four Henris.
21. Jeroboam son of Nebat (his story is found in I Kings xi-xv) and Jeroboam son of Jehoash (II Kings xiv:23-29). They were both idolaters.