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Literary Terminology Quizzes, Trivia and Puzzles
Literary Terminology Quizzes, Trivia

Literary Terminology Trivia

Literary Terminology Trivia Quizzes

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Do you know your zeugma from your hypozeugma? What is the difference between paralepsis and praeteritio? If these questions make sense to you, dive on in!
17 Literary Terminology quizzes and 185 Literary Terminology trivia questions.
Literary Lexicon  C
  Literary Lexicon - "C"    
Match Quiz
 10 Qns
Match the Literary Terms
Time for me to dust off that old English degree and think back to my university literature courses! I've provided you with ten literary terms that start with the letter "C".
Easier, 10 Qns, trident, Jun 09 24
trident editor
Jun 09 24
440 plays
Literary Lexicon  B
  Literary Lexicon - "B"   best quiz  
Match Quiz
 10 Qns
Match the Literary Terms
Time for me to dust off that old English degree and think back to my university literature courses! I've provided you with ten literary terms that start with the letter "B".
Easier, 10 Qns, trident, May 11 24
trident editor
May 11 24
410 plays
Literary Lexicon  A
  Literary Lexicon - "A"   best quiz  
Match Quiz
 10 Qns
Match the Literary Terms
Time for me to dust off that old English degree and think back to my university literature courses! I've provided you with ten literary terms that start with the letter "A".
Very Easy, 10 Qns, trident, Mar 02 24
Very Easy
trident editor
Mar 02 24
440 plays
  Literary Term Match Up   best quiz  
Match Quiz
 10 Qns
See if you can match the literary term with its correct definition.
Very Easy, 10 Qns, ponycargirl, Apr 03 17
Recommended for grades: 8,9,10,11
Very Easy
ponycargirl editor
1917 plays
  Turning Neither Left Nor White editor best quiz   best quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Or: "You Just Stepped on My Zeugma!" Come in to find out what happens when good authors turn parallel structure on its head! Warning: there will be some spoilers for the literary works mentioned in this quiz.
Average, 10 Qns, adams627, Feb 08 14
4114 plays
  Literary Allusions of the 20th Century   best quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
See what you know about the phrases and other wordplay that these 20th Century authors gave us.
Average, 10 Qns, Oddball, Jun 04 22
Jun 04 22
3351 plays
  Literary Criticism   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 20 Qns
There are many ways to interpret a literary work. Take this quiz to sharpen the tools in your literary toolbox!
Tough, 20 Qns, skylarb, Nov 02 19
Nov 02 19
2223 plays
  Short Story Elements    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Quick! What are the four basic elements of the short story? If you forgot, then maybe it's time for a review, and if you knew them, then keep going.
Average, 10 Qns, 57wordsmith, Apr 19 23
Apr 19 23
2476 plays
  Theory   great trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Dr Rita Lot of Quacks University is writing some new articles about literature. Over the years, academics have come up with lots of new ways to analyse stories, poetry, and plays. Which one is Rita using?
Average, 10 Qns, AcrylicInk, Jun 19 22
AcrylicInk gold member
Jun 19 22
487 plays
  Rhetorical Devices   popular trivia quiz  
Match Quiz
 10 Qns
Match the rhetorical device with the appropriate example.
Tough, 10 Qns, chessart, Oct 25 19
chessart gold member
Oct 25 19
206 plays
  Literary Terminology Hodgepodge   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 15 Qns
An assortment of questions about figurative language, rhetoric, plays and poetry.
Tough, 15 Qns, skylarb, Jun 15 16
1716 plays
  'Formalism': An Interesting Theory    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
For those of you who haven't heard of Formalism (or have the misfortune of having to study it at degree level) here's my basic guide. Enjoy!
Average, 10 Qns, shortstef, Feb 08 14
1450 plays
  Word Origins from Literature   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Here are some words that owe their existence to literary works. See how many you know.
Average, 10 Qns, robert362, Feb 08 14
4102 plays
  Terminology: Literary and Rhetorical    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
There's a label for just about everything in literature and rhetoric. See how many you can identify.
Tough, 10 Qns, skylarb, Aug 02 20
Aug 02 20
883 plays
  Literary Forms, Tricks and Games: Terminology.    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
What do you know about the terminology of classic stylistics, poetry and "wordgames"?
Difficult, 10 Qns, flem-ish, Feb 08 14
663 plays
  Literary Labels And Terminology.    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
For obscure reasons humans feel the need to classify and to label not only pots of home-made jam, but also the works of creative genius. Authors are to be classified according to theme, genre, subjects, etc. See if you can find your way in this gallery.
Difficult, 10 Qns, flem-ish, Feb 08 14
955 plays
  Literary Allusions: Where From?    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
I'll supply an allusion (a reference, without explanation, to a particular work of literature), and you tell me where it came from, or the author of the work.
Tough, 10 Qns, ravenskye, Feb 08 14
1551 plays

Literary Terminology Trivia Questions

1. Eric Arthur Blair's penname is used to reference the suppression of liberty and distortion of truth on a governmental level...indeed, the complete control of the state. What is this type of rule called?

From Quiz
Literary Allusions of the 20th Century

Answer: Orwellian

The storylines of classics from '1984' to 'Animal Farm' best exemplify the 'Orwellian', or totalitarian, themes of George Orwell (1903-1950). Perhaps the most notable example of an Orwellian society is the presence of the always unseen surveillance entity called 'Big Brother' from '1984', published in 1949.

2. When the author gives some background or needed details to the story this is known as what term?

From Quiz Short Story Elements

Answer: exposition

Exposition can happen anywhere in the story, in the very beginning, in the middle, as characters and new situations are introduced, or sometimes, in the short story format, readers aren't given the entire background until the very end as a way of putting more emphasis to the overall plot.

3. "Good friend for Jesus' sake forbear To dig the dust enclosed here; Blest be the man that spares these stones And curst be that moves my bones". What is the exact name for an "inscription in verse or in prose specifically upon a tomb"?

From Quiz Literary Forms, Tricks and Games: Terminology.

Answer: epitaph

The term epitaph is also applied by extension to "anything written as if to be inscribed on a tomb". An epigram is any inscription suitable for carving on a monument. Later the term was also used for any brief and pithy verse pointing out a moral. An epistrophe is the ending of a series of lines, phrases, clauses or sentences with the same word or words. An epithet is an adjective or phrase that is used to express the characteristic of a person or thing. Examples: Ivan the Terrible; Richard the Lionheart.

4. Which country is most associated with the theory of Formalism?

From Quiz 'Formalism': An Interesting Theory

Answer: Russia

The main branch of Formalism is Russian Formalism. Its orgins as a literary theory come from the Russian Revolution period as a response to the conventional study of literature.

5. There are two parts to a metaphor. One is the tenor. What is the other part?

From Quiz Literary Terminology Hodgepodge

Answer: Vehicle

The tenor is the idea being represented by the vehicle. The vehicle is the actual image used. Thus, when we say "My God is a rock," the vehicle is "rock" and the tenor is "strength", "permanence", etc.

6. "And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass." This is an example of:

From Quiz Terminology: Literary and Rhetorical

Answer: antanaclasis

This quote comes from John Milton's "Paradise Lost." Antanaclasis is a term used to refer to the rhetorical device of repeating a word within a line, but using it in a different sense the second time. "Threefold" means three times when first used, but "three folds" refers to the bars in the gates.

7. The New Critics were:

From Quiz Literary Criticism

Answer: Formalist critics

This approach to literature is now called "Formalism" because it is no longer as "new" as it once was. Formalism moved away from the historical/biographical approach that had previously dominated literary criticism, and focused on close reading of the text to consider it as a self-contained object.

8. Charles Dickens' 'Christmas Carol', Pushkin's 'Queen of Spades', Washington Irving's 'Legend of Sleepy Hollow' and Henry James' 'Turn of the Screw' are all examples of what literary genre?

From Quiz Literary Labels And Terminology.

Answer: ghost stories

Dickens lived from 1812 till 1870. 'Christmas Carol' was published in 1843. Pushkin from 1799 till 1837. 'Queen of Spades' was published in 1834. Washington Irving lived from 1783 till 1859. 'Sleepy Hollow' was published in 'Sketch-Book' (1815). Henry James lived from 1843 till 1916. 'The Turn of the Screw' was published in 1898.

9. Whose novel gave us 'The Artful Dodger'?

From Quiz Literary Allusions: Where From?

Answer: Charles Dickens

The Artful Dodger is from 'Oliver Twist.' Today, skillful crooks are often called 'artful dodgers.'

10. The term 'gargantuan' finds its origin in the fictional character of the same name. Who was the author?

From Quiz Word Origins from Literature

Answer: Rabelais

Rabelais - who gives rise to the term 'Rabelaisian' for one who is somewhat coarse.

11. Dr Rita Lot is using psychoanalytic criticism to analyse Hamlet's actions in Shakespeare's play of the same name. Whose ideas was psychoanalytic criticism based on?

From Quiz Theory

Answer: Sigmund Freud

Even though Sigmund Freud's ideas have largely been discredited, some literary critics use psychoanalysis to explore the 'true' meaning behind actions and symbols within a text. Psychoanalytic criticism can try to uncover repressed ideas in either the writer or the characters. This kind of criticism has been used to explain Hamlet's actions. He knew that he needed to kill his uncle, and he had the means to do so. So why did he hesitate for most of the play? Some critics thought his hesitation linked to Freud's Oedipus complex. He wanted to punish his uncle for taking his mother, but he couldn't because he was guilty of the same desire.

12. What term would best describe an otherwise perfect small community overwhelmed with treachery, mistrust, gossip and other illicit activities?

From Quiz Literary Allusions of the 20th Century

Answer: A 'Peyton Place'

From the 1956 book of the same name by Grace Metalious, as well as the subsequent hit movie (starring Lana Turner) and U.S. TV series (with Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal), it forever cast a dark shadow on America's conception of small-town life. The TV series also starred Leslie Nielsen, Lee Grant and George McCready.

13. What element of a short story might be described as the 'series of related events'?

From Quiz Short Story Elements

Answer: plot

Plot is one of the basic four elements. In simpler terms, plot is what happens in the story.

14. In literature, how might we describe someone of "sanguine" humor?

From Quiz Literary Terminology Hodgepodge

Answer: Happy

According to the theory of physiology during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, there were four main fluids in the human body that determined temperament. In a sanguine person, blood is dominant, and so they will be happy or ruddy. A phlegmatic person was lethargic, a choleric angry, and a splenetic melancholy (also sometimes associated with anger).

15. What approach to literary criticism requires the critic to know about the author's life and times?

From Quiz Literary Criticism

Answer: Historical

A formalist approach specifically excludes the life and times of the author, and looks only at the text. It is not necessary (i.e. required) for a critic to know the author's background for a mimetic approach, though it may prove helpful.

16. Folly literature combines elements of fantasy and nonsense with a serious intent to expose and ridicule human behaviour. All the titles below have been classified by critics as belonging to the genre. Which of them came first?

From Quiz Literary Labels And Terminology.

Answer: Sebastian Brandt, 'The Ship of Fools'

The dates are: Brandt 1494, Erasmus 1509, Swift 1726, K.A. Porter 1962. Also 'Candide' by Voltaire (1759) has been classified within this category, although the usual label is conte philosophique, or philosophic tale.

17. Which novel claimed, 'Big Brother is watching you'?

From Quiz Literary Allusions: Where From?

Answer: 1984

'1984' was by George Orwell. Big Brother refers to intrusive government.

18. The idea of 'Shangri-la' has been accepted into the vocabulary. Who wrote the novel that popularized this fictional place?

From Quiz Word Origins from Literature

Answer: James Hilton

'Lost Horizon' was the novel.

19. 'The Bloody Chamber' was a collection of short stories by Angela Carter that were based on fairy tales. Rita is exploring the idea of parody and pastiche in the stories. Which style of criticism is she using?

From Quiz Theory

Answer: Postmodernism

Modernism dominated the arts in the first half of the twentieth century. Writers moved away from realism and omniscient narrators, and experimented more in their work. Postmodernist writers used experimentation, too. They blurred the lines between 'high' and 'low' art by incorporating elements of both in their work. They mixed different genres and styles, and celebrated earlier literary styles by creating pastiches. Angela Carter's short stories were arguably pastiches of the fairy tales that inspired them. In her introduction to 'The Bloody Chamber', Helen Simpson explained how Carter was also inspired by speculative thinking in science fiction, and the signs and symbols used by nineteenth century symbolist poets. The way different genres were blended in 'The Bloody Chamber' is what Dr Rita is going to explore through a postmodernist lens.

20. What famous phrase denotes the rise of any person to a spot where they are ultimately bound to fail?

From Quiz Literary Allusions of the 20th Century

Answer: The Peter Principle

From the series of books by Lawrence J. Peter which were first published in 1970. Among his more famous listings include Ulysses S. Grant, who went from heroics on the battlefields of the U.S. Civil War to two scandal-ridden terms of office as President.

21. "I told you that if you don't change your ways....where will you end up"? What is the name for this apparent inconsistency in syntactic structure, which at times has been used by orators for special effect?

From Quiz Literary Forms, Tricks and Games: Terminology.

Answer: anacoluthon

The normal continuation might have been: will end up in prison, as a drop-out, etc. Anastrophe is the inversion of the normal syntactic order of words: "To church went she". Anaphora is the repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences or lines. Epistrophe is similar...but at the end of sentences.

22. Which type of text would be the most useful when applying Formalism?

From Quiz 'Formalism': An Interesting Theory

Answer: Poem

As I discovered when trying to apply Formalism to a longer text, its use becomes limited because of complications such as the plot and characterization. A relatively short poem is ideal for the application of Formalism as it can be analyzed as a whole, and is more likely to contain interesting use of language than a novel.

23. In a play, if the term "exeunt" is used, what does it mean?

From Quiz Literary Terminology Hodgepodge

Answer: Two or more actors exit the stage

The term manet means he (or she) remains on stage, while exeunt omnes means that all of the characters exit.

24. "Take me to you, imprison me, for I, / Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, / Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me." What literary device is John Donne using here?

From Quiz Terminology: Literary and Rhetorical

Answer: paradox

This is quoted from Donne's "Holy Sonnets." A paradox is a seeming contradiction that is, in fact, actually true.

25. Formalist critics believe that the value of a work cannot be determined by the author's intention. What term do they use when speaking of this belief?

From Quiz Literary Criticism

Answer: The intentional fallacy

The affective fallacy is the belief that the meaning or value of a work may be determined by its effect on the reader. The pathetic fallacy is attributing human emotions to non-human objects, such as nature.

26. What is the usual name given to a play designed to be read rather than performed, such as Shelley's 'The Cenci' and Byron's 'Manfred' ?

From Quiz Literary Labels And Terminology.

Answer: closet drama

Other examples include 'Samson Agonistes' by John Milton and Shelley's 'Prometheus Unbound'.

27. What book featured Captain Bligh?

From Quiz Literary Allusions: Where From?

Answer: Mutiny on the Bounty

'Captain Bligh' refers to a person who is cruel, unreasonable, and tyrannical.

28. 'Babbitt' refers to someone who is middle class - in a stuffy, unoriginal way. Who wrote the novel of the same name?

From Quiz Word Origins from Literature

Answer: Sinclair Lewis

Lewis also wrote 'Arrowsmith' and 'Main Street' and picked up a Nobel Prize.

29. Dr Rita Lot is analysing Tennessee Williams' play, 'A Streetcar Named Desire', using Marxist criticism. Which aspect of the play is she exploring?

From Quiz Theory

Answer: Tensions between social class

Marxist criticism in literature was inspired by the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Like feminist criticism, Marxism can be applied to the characters in the text, as well as the writer and their own historical context. In 'A Streetcar Named Desire', Blanche was a bankrupt Southern belle who had no choice but to move in with her sister, Stella. The two sisters grew up in a relatively wealthy family, but the money had dwindled down to nothing, and when Blanche lost her job as a teacher, that was the last straw. When Blanche arrived in the New Orleans French Quarter, she was yet to meet Stella's husband, Stanley. Their social backgrounds were worlds apart: Blanche came from a sprawling plantation home, but Stanley lived in a two-room flat. He was rude and violent, and there was clear tension between the two of them.

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