GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Identification of British Prose 1660–1925

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Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Prose 1660–1925

“The author of these Travels, Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, is my ancient and intimate friend; there is likewise some relation between us on the mother’s side.  About three years ago, Mr. Gulliver growing weary of the concourse of curious people coming to him at his house in Redriff, made a small purchase of land, with a convenient house, near Newark, in Nottinghamshire, his native country; where he now lives retired, yet in good esteem among his neighbors.

Although Mr. Gulliver was born in Nottinghamshire, where his father dwelt, yet I have heard him say his family came from Oxfordshire; to confirm which, I have observed in the churchyard at Banbury in that county, several tombs and monuments of the Gullivers.”

Who wrote the above passage?

Possible Answers:

William Blake

Daniel Defoe

Samuel Johnson

Jonathan Swift

Susanna Rowson

Correct answer:

Jonathan Swift

Explanation:

This excerpt is taken from Irish writer Jonathan Swift’s novel Gulliver’s Travels Into Several Remote Nations of the World. An immediate hit when it was published in 1726, the work parodies a then-popular style of travel writing and satirizes humankind.

Passage adapted from Gulliver’s Travels Into Several Remote Nations of the World by Jonathan Swift (1726).

Example Question #2 : Identification Of British Prose 1660–1925

My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.

I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his tombstone and my sister,—Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above," I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly. To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine,—who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle,—I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of existence.

The above text was written by the author of:

Possible Answers:

Sons and Lovers

Bleak House

Sister Carrie

Sense and Sensibility

A Room With a View

Correct answer:

Bleak House

Explanation:

This text is taken from the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ 1860 novel Great Expectations. Dickens, a prolific English author, also wrote A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers, Bleak House, and more.

Example Question #3 : Identification Of British Prose 1660–1925

"The Signora had no business to do it," said Miss Bartlett, "no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view close together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!"

"And a Cockney, besides!" said Lucy, who had been further saddened by the Signora's unexpected accent. "It might be London." She looked at the two rows of English people who were sitting at the table; at the row of white bottles of water and red bottles of wine that ran between the English people; at the portraits of the late Queen and the late Poet Laureate that hung behind the English people, heavily framed; at the notice of the English church (Rev. Cuthbert Eager, M. A. Oxon.), that was the only other decoration of the wall. "Charlotte, don't you feel, too, that we might be in London? I can hardly believe that all kinds of other things are just outside. I suppose it is one's being so tired."

The above text is from a novel by which author?

Possible Answers:

E.M. Forster

Virginia Woolf

Rudyard Kipling

D.H. Lawrence

James Joyce

Correct answer:

E.M. Forster

Explanation:

These are the opening lines of E.M. Forster’s A Room With A View, published in 1908. The novel concerns a young English woman, Lucy Honeychurch, and her trip with Miss Bartlett to Florence, Italy. These two main characters are used by Forster to critique societal norms in turn-of-the-century England.

Example Question #4 : Identification Of British Prose 1660–1925

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

"My dear Mr. Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?"

Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.

"But it is," returned she; "for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it."

Mr. Bennet made no answer.

"Do you not want to know who has taken it?" cried his wife impatiently.

"You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it."

This was invitation enough.

"Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week."

"What is his name?"

"Bingley."

"Is he married or single?"

"Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!"

Who wrote the above lines?

Possible Answers:

Jane Austen

Emily Dickinson 

Virginia Woolf

Charlotte Bronte

Emily Bronte 

Correct answer:

Jane Austen

Explanation:

These lines comprise the classic opening page of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, written in 1813.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Prose 1660–1925

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

This is the opening line of which of the following works of literature?

Possible Answers:

Little Women

Gone with the Wind

Wuthering Heights

Pride and Prejudice

Anna Karenina

Correct answer:

Pride and Prejudice

Explanation:

This is the opening line of Jane Austen’s classic 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice. Set in 19th century England, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Elizabeth Bennett, as she navigates through decisions of love, marriage, and her own education.

Example Question #2 : Identification Of British Prose 1660–1925

“Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.”

This is the opening line of which of the following literary works?

Possible Answers:

Nicholas Nickleby

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Lord Jim

The Return of the Native

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Correct answer:

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Explanation:

This is the opening of James Joyce’s 1916 novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It portrays the spiritual and intellectual awakening of the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus.

Example Question #7 : Identification Of British Prose 1660–1925

“May she wake in torment!" he cried, with frightful vehemence, stamping his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion. "Why, she's a liar to the end! Where is she? Not there—not in heaven—not perished—where? Oh! you said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer—I repeat it till my tongue stiffens—May she wake in torment!" he cried, with frightful vehemence, stamping his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion. "Why, she's a liar to the end! Where is she? Not there—not in heaven—not perished—where? Oh! you said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer—I repeat it till my tongue stiffens—Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” 

Identify the author of the excerpt.

Possible Answers:

George Eliot

Emily Bronte

Jane Austen

Virginia Woolf

Kate Chopin

Correct answer:

Emily Bronte

Explanation:

The passage is from Emily Bronte's 1846 novel, Wuthering Heights. If the dramatic style of the monologue wasn't enough to help you figure out the source of the quotation, note that it mentions one of the novel's characters by her full name: "Catherine Earnshaw."

Example Question #3 : Identification Of British Prose 1660–1925

The following line is the opening of which literary work?

“A Saturday afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight, and the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment by moment.”

Possible Answers:

Bleak House

The Return of the Native

“Bartleby the Scrivener"

A Passage to India

The Turn of the Screw

Correct answer:

The Return of the Native

Explanation:

The excerpt is the opening lines of Thomas Hardy's 1878 novel, The Return of the Native.

Example Question #9 : Identification Of British Prose 1660–1925

I was yet enjoying the calm prospect and pleasant fresh air, yet listening with delight to the cawing of the rooks, yet surveying the wide, hoary front of the hall, and thinking what a great place it was for one lonely little dame like Mrs. Fairfax to inhabit, when that lady appeared at the door.

“What! out already?” said she. “I see you are an early riser.” I went up to her, and was received with an affable kiss and shake of the hand.

“How do you like Thornfield?” she asked. I told her I liked it very much.

“Yes,” she said, “it is a pretty place; but I fear it will be getting out of order, unless Mr. Rochester should take it into his head to come and reside here permanently; or, at least, visit it rather oftener: great houses and fine grounds require the presence of the proprietor.”

“Mr. Rochester!” I exclaimed. “Who is he?”

Who wrote this novel?

Possible Answers:

Charlotte Brontë

Ann Radcliffe

Christina Rossetti

Jane Austen

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Correct answer:

Charlotte Brontë

Explanation:

This passage is from the novel Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte Brontë.

Passage adapted from Jane Eyre: An Autobiography by Charlotte Brontë (1847; ed. 1897, Townsend)

Example Question #10 : Identification Of British Prose 1660–1925

I was yet enjoying the calm prospect and pleasant fresh air, yet listening with delight to the cawing of the rooks, yet surveying the wide, hoary front of the hall, and thinking what a great place it was for one lonely little dame like Mrs. Fairfax to inhabit, when that lady appeared at the door.

“What! out already?” said she. “I see you are an early riser.” I went up to her, and was received with an affable kiss and shake of the hand.

“How do you like Thornfield?” she asked. I told her I liked it very much.

“Yes,” she said, “it is a pretty place; but I fear it will be getting out of order, unless Mr. Rochester should take it into his head to come and reside here permanently; or, at least, visit it rather oftener: great houses and fine grounds require the presence of the proprietor.”

“Mr. Rochester!” I exclaimed. “Who is he?”

This author’s relative wrote which of the following novels?

Possible Answers:

Frankenstein

Mansfield Park

Little Dorrit

Pride and Prejudice

Wuthering Heights

Correct answer:

Wuthering Heights

Explanation:

Charlotte Brontë’s sister, Emily Brontë, published Wuthering Heights in 1847. She sometimes wrote under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, and this was her only novel.

Passage adapted from Jane Eyre: An Autobiography by Charlotte Brontë (1847; ed. 1897, Townsend)

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