GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Identification of World Prose Before 1925

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Identification Of World Prose Before 1925

“In a castle of Westphalia, belonging to the Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh, lived a youth, whom nature had endowed with the most gentle manners. His countenance was a true picture of his soul. He combined a true judgment with simplicity of spirit, which was the reason, I apprehend, of his being called Candide. The old servants of the family suspected him to have been the son of the Baron's sister, by a good, honest gentleman of the neighborhood, whom that young lady would never marry because he had been able to prove only seventy-one quarterings, the rest of his genealogical tree having been lost through the injuries of time.

The Baron was one of the most powerful lords in Westphalia, for his castle had not only a gate, but windows. His great hall, even, was hung with tapestry. All the dogs of his farm-yards formed a pack of hounds at need; his grooms were his huntsmen; and the curate of the village was his grand almoner. They called him "My Lord," and laughed at all his stories.”

Which author wrote the above paragraphs?

Possible Answers:

Molière

Voltaire

Diderot

Montesquieu

Rousseau

Correct answer:

Voltaire

Explanation:

This passage is taken from the opening paragraphs of Voltaire’s Candide, a 1759 French satire concerning the sheltered young man Candide and a teacher, Professor Pangloss. The work, a novella, is also known as l'Optimisme.

Passage adapted from Candide by Voltaire (1759; trans. 1918, The Modern Library)

Example Question #2 : Identification Of World Prose Before 1925

“Neither Mercedes nor Edmond observed the strange expression of his countenance; they were so happy that they were conscious only of the sunshine and the presence of each other.

Having acquitted themselves of their errand, and exchanged a hearty shake of the hand with Edmond, Danglars and Caderousse took their places beside Fernand and old Dantes,—the latter of whom attracted universal notice. The old man was attired in a suit of glistening watered silk, trimmed with steel buttons, beautifully cut and polished. His thin but wiry legs were arrayed in a pair of richly embroidered clocked stockings, evidently of English manufacture, while from his three-cornered hat depended a long streaming knot of white and blue ribbons. Thus he came along, supporting himself on a curiously carved stick, his aged countenance lit up with happiness, looking for all the world like one of the aged dandies of 1796, parading the newly opened gardens of the Tuileries and Luxembourg. Beside him glided Caderousse, whose desire to partake of the good things provided for the wedding-party had induced him to become reconciled to the Dantes, father and son, although there still lingered in his mind a faint and unperfect recollection of the events of the preceding night; just as the brain retains on waking in the morning the dim and misty outline of a dream.”

Which author wrote the above passage?

Possible Answers:

Hugo

Rousseau

Molière

Voltaire

Dumas

Correct answer:

Dumas

Explanation:

The passage includes several of the main characters of The Count of Monte Cristo, written in 1844 by Alexandre Dumas. The novel follows the adventures of Dantes, who is engaged to marry Mercedes and is the eponymous count, and is one of Dumas’ most famous works.

Adapted from The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844; 1888 ed. by George Routledge and Sons)

Example Question #3 : Identification Of World Prose Before 1925

"When he was twelve years old his mother had her own way; he began lessons. The cure took him in hand; but the lessons were so short and irregular that they could not be of much use. They were given at spare moments in the sacristy, standing up, hurriedly, between a baptism and a burial; or else the cure, if he had not to go out, sent for his pupil after the Angelus. They went up to his room and settled down; the flies and moths fluttered round the candle. It was close, the child fell asleep, and the good man, beginning to doze with his hands on his stomach, was soon snoring with his mouth wide open. On other occasions, when Monsieur le Cure, on his way back after administering the viaticum to some sick person in the neighborhood, caught sight of Charles playing about the fields, he called him, lectured him for a quarter of an hour and took advantage of the occasion to make him conjugate his verb at the foot of a tree. The rain interrupted them or an acquaintance passed. All the same he was always pleased with him, and even said the "young man" had a very good memory.

     A devotion said at morning, noon, and evening, at the sound

     of a bell. Here, the evening prayer.

Charles could not go on like this. Madame Bovary took strong steps. Ashamed, or rather tired out, Monsieur Bovary gave in without a struggle, and they waited one year longer, so that the lad should take his first communion."

Who wrote the above passage?

Possible Answers:

Victor Hugo

Gustave Flaubert

Thomas Hardy

Guy de Maupassant

Honoré de Balzac

Correct answer:

Gustave Flaubert

Explanation:

This passage is taken from Gustave Flaubert’s first novel, the 1856 Madame Bovary. The final lines of the passage mention the eponymous character herself.

Passage adapted from Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1856; trans. Aveline 1886).

Example Question #4 : Identification Of World Prose

“See here. My name is Jean Valjean. I am a convict from the galleys. I have passed nineteen years in the galleys. I was liberated four days ago, and am on my way to Pontarlier, which is my destination. I have been walking for four days since I left Toulon. I have travelled a dozen leagues to-day on foot. This evening, when I arrived in these parts, I went to an inn, and they turned me out, because of my yellow passport, which I had shown at the town-hall. I had to do it. I went to an inn. They said to me, 'Be off,' at both places. No one would take me. I went to the prison; the jailer would not admit me. I went into a dog's kennel; the dog bit me and chased me off, as though he had been a man. One would have said that he knew who I was. I went into the fields, intending to sleep in the open air, beneath the stars. There were no stars. I thought it was going to rain, and I re-entered the town, to seek the recess of a doorway. Yonder, in the square, I meant to sleep on a stone bench. A good woman pointed out your house to me, and said to me, 'Knock there!' I have knocked. What is this place? Do you keep an inn? I have money—savings. One hundred and nine francs fifteen sous, which I earned in the galleys by my labor, in the course of nineteen years. I will pay. What is that to me? I have money. I am very weary; twelve leagues on foot; I am very hungry. Are you willing that I should remain?”

Who wrote the above passage?

Possible Answers:

Émile Zola

Honoré de Balzac

Victor Hugo

Gustave Flaubert

Guy de Maupassant

Correct answer:

Victor Hugo

Explanation:

This passage was written by the French writer Victor Hugo. It appears in his 1862 novel Les Misérables, which is widely considered one of the most important novels of the nineteenth century and which documents the plight of the poor in post-revolutionary France. The novel follows the lives of several characters, the most important of which is Jean Valjean. 

Quotation adapted from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1862; trans. Hapgood 1887).

Example Question #5 : Identification Of World Prose

“The Friends of the A B C were not numerous, it was a secret society in the state of embryo, we might almost say a coterie, if coteries ended in heroes. They assembled in Paris in two localities, near the fish-market, in a wine-shop called Corinthe, of which more will be heard later on, and near the Pantheon in a little cafe in the Rue Saint-Michel called the Cafe Musain, now torn down; the first of these meeting-places was close to the workingman, the second to the students.

The assemblies of the Friends of the A B C were usually held in a back room of the Cafe Musain.

This hall, which was tolerably remote from the cafe, with which it was connected by an extremely long corridor, had two windows and an exit with a private stairway on the little Rue des Gres. There they smoked and drank, and gambled and laughed. There they conversed in very loud tones about everything, and in whispers of other things. An old map of France under the Republic was nailed to the wall,—a sign quite sufficient to excite the suspicion of a police agent.

The greater part of the Friends of the A B C were students, who were on cordial terms with the working classes. Here are the names of the principal ones. They belong, in a certain measure, to history: Enjolras, Combeferre, Jean Prouvaire, Feuilly, Courfeyrac, Bahorel, Lesgle or Laigle, Joly, Grantaire.

These young men formed a sort of family, through the bond of friendship. All, with the exception of Laigle, were from the South.”

The author of the above passage also wrote which work?

Possible Answers:

Madame Bovary

A Sentimental Education

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

In Search of Lost Time

Candide

Correct answer:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Explanation:

This passage is taken from Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Misérables. An important subplot of the novel is the political rebellions fomented by the students of 1830s Paris, students who comprise the Friends of the ABC. While Hugo’s most famous work is Les Misérables, he is also known for his 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Quotation adapted from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1862; trans. Hapgood 1887).

Example Question #6 : Identification Of World Prose

A king and queen once upon a time reigned in a country a great way off, where there were in those days fairies. Now this king and queen had plenty of money, and plenty of fine clothes to wear, and plenty of good things to eat and drink, and a coach to ride out in every day: but though they had been married many years they had no children, and this grieved them very much indeed. But one day as the queen was walking by the side of the river, at the bottom of the garden, she saw a poor little fish, that had thrown itself out of the water, and lay gasping and nearly dead on the bank. Then the queen took pity on the little fish, and threw it back again into the river; and before it swam away it lifted its head out of the water and said, 'I know what your wish is, and it shall be fulfilled, in return for your kindness to me—you will soon have a daughter.' What the little fish had foretold soon came to pass; and the queen had a little girl, so very beautiful that the king could not cease looking on it for joy, and said he would hold a great feast and make merry, and show the child to all the land. So he asked his kinsmen, and nobles, and friends, and neighbors. But the queen said, 'I will have the fairies also, that they might be kind and good to our little daughter.' Now there were thirteen fairies in the kingdom; but as the king and queen had only twelve golden dishes for them to eat out of, they were forced to leave one of the fairies without asking her. So twelve fairies came, each with a high red cap on her head, and red shoes with high heels on her feet, and a long white wand in her hand: and after the feast was over they gathered round in a ring and gave all their best gifts to the little princess. One gave her goodness, another beauty, another riches, and so on till she had all that was good in the world.

The above short story excerpt comes from the collected works of which of the following authors?

Possible Answers:

Carlo Collodi

Aesop

Charles Perrault

The Brothers Grimm

Hans Christian Andersen

Correct answer:

The Brothers Grimm

Explanation:

The tale of Briar Rose is one of many stories collected in the famous, macabre fairy tales written by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. The well known “Sleeping Beauty” story is based on this tale.

Passage adapted from German Popular Stories, a translation of Kinder und Haus-Märchen by Wilhelm Grimm and Jacob Grimm (trans. Taylor 1826).

Example Question #7 : Identification Of World Prose

SONG I.

Boethius' Complaint

 

Who wrought my studious numbers

Smoothly once in happier days,

Now perforce in tears and sadness

Learn a mournful strain to raise.

. . .

While I was thus mutely pondering within myself, and recording my sorrowful complainings with my pen, it seemed to me that there appeared above my head a woman of a countenance exceeding venerable. Her eyes were bright as fire, and of a more than human keenness; her complexion was lively, her vigor showed no trace of enfeeblement; and yet her years were right full, and she plainly seemed not of our age and time. Her stature was difficult to judge. At one moment it exceeded not the common height, at another her forehead seemed to strike the sky; and whenever she raised her head higher, she began to pierce within the very heavens, and to baffle the eyes of them that looked upon her.

From what work are these lines?

Possible Answers:

The Seafarer

The Chronicle of Julian of Norwich

The Canterbury Tales

The Consolation of Philosophy

Beowulf

Correct answer:

The Consolation of Philosophy

Explanation:

These lines are from Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, widely regarded as one of the most important influences for medieval Christianity. Written in prison at the end of the Classical era, the work features a wide-ranging conversation between Boethius (a Roman philosopher) and Lady Philosophy and is written in mix of prose and verse.

Passage adapted from Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius (ed. 1897, trans. James)

Example Question #4 : Identification Of World Prose Before 1925

Theft is punished by Thy law, O Lord, and the law written in the hearts of men, which iniquity itself effaces not. For what thief will abide a thief? not even a rich thief, one stealing through want. Yet I lusted to thieve, and did it, compelled by no hunger, nor poverty, but through a cloyedness of well-doing, and a pamperedness of iniquity. For I stole that, of which I had enough, and much better. Nor cared I to enjoy what I stole, but joyed in the theft and sin itself. A pear tree there was near our vineyard, laden with fruit, tempting neither for color nor taste. To shake and rob this, some lewd young fellows of us went, late one night (having according to our pestilent custom prolonged our sports in the streets till then), and took huge loads, not for our eating, but to fling to the very hogs, having only tasted them. And this, but to do what we liked only, because it was misliked. Behold my heart, O God, behold my heart, which Thou hadst pity upon in the bottom of the bottomless pit. Now, behold, let my heart tell Thee what it sought there, that I should be gratuitously evil, having no temptation to ill, but the ill itself. It was foul, and I loved it; I loved to perish, I loved mine own fault, not that for which I was faulty, but my fault itself. Foul soul, falling from Thy firmament to utter destruction; not seeking aught through the shame, but the shame itself!

The above lines are from which work?

Possible Answers:

Summa Theologica

The Aeneid

Inferno

Confessions

Purgatorio

Correct answer:

Confessions

Explanation:

This work is Augustine’s Confessions. It was written around the year 400 C.E. and focused on the author’s transgressive youth and slow, painful conversion to Christianity. This passage, in addition to several excerpts about Augustine’s mother Monica, is a particularly well known part of the work.

Adapted from The Confessions of St. Augustine (ed. William G. T. Shedd, 1860)

Example Question #5 : Identification Of World Prose Before 1925

And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened:—Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

I see.

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?

Yes, he said.

Which ancient Greek writer wrote the above dialogue?

Possible Answers:

Aristotle

Plato

Homer

Aeschylus

Herodotus

Correct answer:

Plato

Explanation:

This is an excerpt from Plato’s famous “Allegory of the Cave,” part of the Republic. The work is presented as a dialogue between Glaucon and Socrates, and the titular allegory discusses the human process of achieving education and enlightenment. It is a seminal work of writing and a cornerstone of Western philosophy.

Adapted from The Republic by Plato (trans. Jowett)

Example Question #6 : Identification Of World Prose Before 1925

Those of the Persians who have knowledge of history declare that the Phenicians first began the quarrel. These, they say, came from that which is called the Erythraian Sea to this of ours; and having settled in the land where they continue even now to dwell, set themselves forthwith to make long voyages by sea. And conveying merchandise of Egypt and of Assyria they arrived at other places and also at Argos; now Argos was at that time in all points the first of the States within that land which is now called Hellas;—the Phenicians arrived then at this land of Argos, and began to dispose of their ship's cargo: and on the fifth or sixth day after they had arrived, when their goods had been almost all sold, there came down to the sea a great company of women, and among them the daughter of the king; and her name, as the Hellenes also agree, was Io the daughter of Inachos. These standing near to the stern of the ship were buying of the wares such as pleased them most, when of a sudden the Phenicians, passing the word from one to another, made a rush upon them; and the greater part of the women escaped by flight, but Io and certain others were carried off. So they put them on board their ship, and forthwith departed, sailing away to Egypt.

This passage begins The Histories, a foundational chronicle of Western events, traditions, cultures, and geography. Who is the likely author?

Possible Answers:

Herodotus

Ovid

Homer

Alexander the Great

Hesiod

Correct answer:

Herodotus

Explanation:

The Histories was a seminal work written by Herodotus in the 400s BCE. It records everything from traditions and topography to cultural issues and political conquests in Greece and the Mediterranean region. Herodotus himself was Greek and is sometimes referred to as “The Father of History.”

Adapted from The History of Herodotus (trans. Macaulay, 1904 ed.)

All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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