GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Identification of British Prose

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Subject Test: Literature in English

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Prose After 1925

Written in 1928, this novel about the illicit affair between a lower-class, married gamekeeper and an aristocratic woman was once banned for its obscene language and frank examination of sex. Who is the author?

Possible Answers:

Thomas Mann

Evelyn Waugh

William Golding

D. H. Lawrence

Kingsley Amis

Correct answer:

D. H. Lawrence

Explanation:

The book in question is Lady Chatterly’s Lover, which was written by D. H. Lawrence. In the novel, Lawrence discusses the insufficiencies of a purely intellectual life and the importance of physical relationships. The story follows the eponymous Lady Chatterly who, frustrated by emotional and physical neglect from her paralyzed husband, begins an affair with the self-assured and sometimes brutal Oliver Mellors.

Example Question #2 : Identification Of British Prose After 1925

Who is the author of Lucky Jim, a 1954 satire of the British educational system and pseudo-intellectualism?

Possible Answers:

Evelyn Waugh

Thomas Mann

D. H. Lawrence

William Golding

Kingsley Amis

Correct answer:

Kingsley Amis

Explanation:

Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim follows the misadventures of Jim Dixon, a professor of medieval literature at an unnamed English university. Jim’s disgust with the academic pretension at his university transforms over the course of the novel from private scorn to uncontrollable public excess, and after giving a disastrously drunken lecture, he is fired. The book is noted as an early example of the “boarding school” or “campus” novel genre.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Prose After 1925

This novel about an aristocratic family in 1920s England features characters such as Lord Sebastian, Lady Marchmain, and Charles Ryder. Who is the author?

Possible Answers:

Evelyn Waugh

Thomas Mann

Ezra Pound

Kingsley Amis

Hart Crane

Correct answer:

Evelyn Waugh

Explanation:

The novel described is Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel Brideshead Revisited. The story concerns the young Charles Ryder, who is befriended by Sebastian Marchmain (son and heir apparent of the elite Roman Catholic Marchmain family) and who eventually falls in love with Julia Marchmain. The novel examines contemporary issues such as faith and religion, homosexuality, alcoholism, and family ties.

Example Question #11 : Identification Of British Prose

Which female British writer wrote mainly during the 1960s through 1980s and produced work that was characterized by its magical realism and feminism?

Possible Answers:

A. S. Byatt

Djuna Barnes

Zadie Smith

Pat Barker

Angela Carter

Correct answer:

Angela Carter

Explanation:

Angela Carter (1940-1992) was a prolific author, writing short stories, novels, nonfiction, poetry, plays, and children’s books. She is best known for Nights at the Circus, a picaresque novel that features the magical adventures of the winged Sophie Fevvers and the journalist Jack Walser, and The Bloody Chamber, a short story collection that re-envisions classic fairy tales and folktales through a feminist lens.

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

Samuel Johnson

Jonathan Swift

Susanna Rowson

Daniel Defoe

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 #51 : Identification Of Prose

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:

A Room With a View

Bleak House

Sense and Sensibility

Sister Carrie

Sons and Lovers

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 #52 : Identification Of Prose

"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:

Rudyard Kipling

Virginia Woolf

James Joyce

E.M. Forster

D.H. Lawrence

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 #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.

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:

Virginia Woolf

Jane Austen

Emily Dickinson 

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

Anna Karenina

Gone with the Wind

Wuthering Heights

Pride and Prejudice

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:

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The Return of the Native

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Lord Jim

Nicholas Nickleby

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.

All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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