GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Identification of Prose

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identification Of Prose

St. Almachus, or Telemachus:

Was a holy solitary of the East, but being excited by the ardors of a pious zeal in his desert, and pierced with grief that the impious diversion of gladiators should cause the damnation of so many unhappy souls, and involve whole cities and provinces in sin; he travelled to Rome, resolved, as far as in him lay, to put a stop to this crying evil. While the gladiators were massacring each other in the amphitheatre, he ran in among them; but as a recompense for his kind remonstrance, and entreating them to desist, he was beaten down to the ground, and torn in pieces, on the 1st of January, 404. His zeal had its desired success; for the effusion of his blood effected what till that time many emperors had found impracticable. Constantine, Constantius, Julian, and Theodosius the elder, had, to no purpose, published several edicts against those impious scenes of blood. But Honorius took occasion from the martyrdom of this saint, to enforce their entire abolition. His name occurs in the true martyrology of Bede, in the Roman and others.

The above lines are an example of which genre of medieval religious writing?

Possible Answers:

Autobiography

Mystical Writing

Hagiography

Homily

Morality Play

Correct answer:

Hagiography

Explanation:

These lines discuss the life of a saint, which makes this genre of writing a hagiography. Some of the earliest hagiographies are Aelfric’s Lives of the Saints and The Vercelli Book.

Passage adapted from The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints by Alban Butler (1866)

Example Question #1 : Identification Of Prose

"And in þis he shewed me a lytil thyng þe quantite of a hasyl nott. lyeng in þe pawme of my hand as it had semed. and it was as rownde as eny ball. I loked þer upon wt þe eye of my vnderstondyng. and I þought what may þis be. and it was answered generally thus. It is all þat is made. I merueled howe it myght laste. for me þought it myght sodenly haue fall to nought for lytyllhed. & I was answered in my vnderstondyng. It lastyth & euer shall for god louyth it. and so hath all thyng his begynning by þe loue of god. In this lytyll thyng I sawe thre propertees. The fyrst is. þt god made it. þe secunde is þet god louyth it. & þe þrid is. þat god kepith it."

In the work above, Julian of Norwich writes about her experiences as a female anchorite and her visions of Jesus Christ. The excerpt best represents which category of writing?

Possible Answers:

Mysticism

Miracle play

Madrigal

Morality play

Monasticism

Correct answer:

Mysticism

Explanation:

Written in the 1300s, this text, Revelations of Divine Love, is a canonical work of mysticism and is also the first English book known to have been written by a woman. The book delineates sixteen mystical visions as well as Julian’s musings about hope and divine love against a backdrop of turmoil and plague.

Passage adapted from Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich (1395)

Example Question #1 : Identification Of Prose

Truly, said Christian, I do not know.

At this Pliable began to be offended, and angrily said to his fellow, Is this the happiness you have told me all this while of? If we have such ill speed at our first setting out, what may we expect betwixt this and our journey's end? May I get out again with my life, you shall possess the brave country alone for me. And, with that, he gave a desperate struggle or two, and got out of the mire on that side of the slough which was next to his own house: so away he went, and Christian saw him no more.

Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone: but still he endeavoured to struggle to that side of the slough that was still further from his own house, and next to the wicket-gate; the which he did, but could not get out, because of the burden that was upon his back: but I beheld in my dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked him, What he did there?

Sir, said Christian, I was bid go this way by a man called Evangelist, who directed me also to yonder gate, that I might escape the wrath to come; and as I was going thither I fell in here.

But why did not you look for the steps? [Help asked.]

Fear followed me so hard, that I fled the next way, and fell in[, Christian replied.]

What early English work is this?

Possible Answers:

The Seafarer

Beowulf

The Canterbury Tales

The Consolation of Philosophy

The Pilgrim’s Progress

Correct answer:

The Pilgrim’s Progress

Explanation:

John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (full name: The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come; Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream) is an early example of English prose. Published in 1678, it constructs an elaborate moral allegory featuring Christian, the protagonist, and a host of personified virtues and sins that Christian encounters on his journey.

Passage adapted from The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come; Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream by John Bunyan (1678)

Example Question #1 : Identification Of Prose

Published in 1962, this dystopian novel features a protagonist named Alex, a gang of violently antisocial teenagers, and Nadsat, a fictional slang with Slavic derivations.

Possible Answers:

Brave New World

1984

A Clockwork Orange

The Handmaid’s Tale

Fahrenheit 451

Correct answer:

A Clockwork Orange

Explanation:

The novel is Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. The work, which was later adapted into a film by Stanley Kubrick, is set in a futuristic English society with a subculture of violent young gangs. A Clockwork Orange examines, among other issues, drug use, prison conditions, the role of language and music in culture, and psychological brainwashing and aversion therapy. One of the novel’s most salient features is Burgess’s use of the invented slang Nadsat, which includes words such as "horrorshow" (good), "droog" (friend), and "starry" (old).

Example Question #1 : Identification Of Prose

What famous dystopian novel is a direct allegory for the rise of communism in the Soviet Union?

Possible Answers:

The Handmaid’s Tale

Brave New World

Fahrenheit 451

1984

Animal Farm

Correct answer:

Animal Farm

Explanation:

George Orwell’s Animal Farm, published in 1945, uses pigs, horses, dogs, and other animals on the fictitious Manor Farm to create an elaborate allegory of the 1917 Russian Revolution and subsequent rise of communism. In the novel, certain animals are meant to directly represent Communist Party leaders; for example, the pig Napoleon represents Joseph Stalin, the pig Snowball represents Leon Trotsky, and the human Mr. Jones represents the assassinated Tsar Nicholas. Although Orwell was a critic of capitalism and a proponent of socialism, he was inspired to condemn Russian communism in the novel because of its tyranny, despotism, and systematic manipulation of language to serve those in power.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of Prose

What dystopian novel contains such inventions as hormone chewing gum, “feelies,” and children raised in hatcheries?

Possible Answers:

Fahrenheit 451

1984

Lord of the Flies

Brave New World

Animal Farm

Correct answer:

Brave New World

Explanation:

Published in 1932, Brave New World was written by Aldous Huxley. The title was taken from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (V.i.187-190): “Oh, wonder! / How many goodly creatures are there here! / How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, / That has such people in ’t!” The novel itself is concerned with advancements in reproductive technology and loss of individual identity in a mass-produced culture. In Huxley’s society, population is strictly limited and children are bred to belong to certain castes so as not to disrupt the harmonious consumer culture.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Prose After 1925

Which Virginia Woolf novel centers around the life of a poet who lives for hundreds of years and shifts gender from male to female?

Possible Answers:

To the Lighthouse

Jacob’s Room

Orlando: A Biography

A Room of One’s Own

Mrs. Dalloway

Correct answer:

Orlando: A Biography

Explanation:

Published in 1928, Orlando: A Biography is Virginia Woolf’s classic examination of feminism, gender roles, and social satire. The best-known characters are Orlando; Princess Sasha; Marmaduke Bonthrop Shelmerdine, Esquire (aka Shel); and the transgender Archduchess Henrietta/Archduke Harry.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Prose After 1925

This seven-work set of fantasy novels about a mythical land was used to develop an elaborate Christian allegory.

Possible Answers:

The Chronicles of Narnia

The Handmaid’s Tale

Brighton Rock

The End of the Affair

The Lord of the Rings

Correct answer:

The Chronicles of Narnia

Explanation:

The first book Lewis wrote was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which was published in 1949. Characters in the series include Aslan, a powerful and benevolent lion meant to represent Jesus Christ; Mr. Tumnus, a faun; the evil White Witch Jadis; Prince Caspian, a hero and adventurer; and the four Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edward.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of Prose

Which dystopian novel was published in 1954 and concerns a group of boys governing themselves on an island?

Possible Answers:

1984

Lord of the Flies

Brave New World

Animal Farm

Fahrenheit 451

Correct answer:

Lord of the Flies

Explanation:

This classic novel was written by William Golding and follows the story of Ralph, Piggy, Jack, Simon, and other boys as they try to survive on a desert island in the wake of a plane crash and nuclear war. The novel examines human nature and morality as well as the contrast between the needs of an individual and the needs of a society.

Example Question #2 : Identification Of Prose

Brighton Rock was written by which British author?

Possible Answers:

Graham Greene

D. H. Lawrence

E.M. Forster

Angela Carter

Virginia Woolf

Correct answer:

Graham Greene

Explanation:

Brighton Rock is a 1938 novel by Graham Greene, a writer whose work often investigated contemporary moral, religious, and political issues. The novel begins as a traditional thriller set at the seaside resort town of Brighton but soon morphs into an examination of human morality and crime. The main characters in this novel are anti-hero Pinkie Brown, a teenage gangster who is blinded by acid in the story’s denouement; Rose, a naïve girl who is deceived by and marries Pinkie; and Ida Arnold, a kind and determined woman who tracks down Pinkie’s misdeeds.

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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