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Quiz about Courtney Loves Guide to Literature
Quiz about Courtney Loves Guide to Literature

Courtney Love's Guide to Literature Quiz


While rewriting a Hole lyrics quiz, I noticed that several of their songs contain literary references of various kinds. This quiz isn't about Hole, but about the books, poems and plays that inspired Courtney Love's songwriting.

A multiple-choice quiz by Kankurette. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Author
Kankurette
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
407,586
Updated
Mar 13 22
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
204
Awards
Editor's Choice
Last 3 plays: KayceeKool (9/10), Guest 175 (3/10), Guest 86 (2/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. 'Retard Girl', one of Hole's earliest songs, contains the line 'as shines the moon among the lesser fires', an English translation of the Latin 'velut inter ignis luna minors'. The line is from the first book of 'Odes' by Quintus Horatius Flaccus, a Roman poet. By which name was he also known? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. 'Good Sister Bad Sister' has a reference to a line from 'Ariel', a Sylvia Plath poem. 'You're choking on big black bloody mouthfuls of it' was Courtney Love's line, while Plath's original was 'Black sweet blood mouthfuls! Shadows!' Ariel is the name of a character from 'The Tempest' by William Shakespeare, but who or what else was the poem named after? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. 'Mrs Jones' features the line 'East is East and West is West...', from 'The Ballad of East and West' by Rudyard Kipling. How does the line end in Kipling's poem? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. The line 'I'm eating you, I'm overfed' in 'Plump' is a homage to the line 'They are eating each other. They are overfed.' from the poem 'The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator'. Which American poet, who committed suicide in 1974, wrote it? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. In Hole's version of 'Old Age', a song also recorded by Nirvana, Courtney Love sings, 'No-one knows she's Hester Prynne'. In which book by Nathaniel Hawthorne is Hester Prynne the protagonist? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. 'Celebrity Skin' quotes a line from the poem 'A Superscription': 'Look in my face, my face is Might-Have-Been'. Which of the talented Rossetti siblings, who was an artist as well as a poet, wrote 'A Superscription'? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. A repeated line in 'Celebrity Skin' is 'I'm glad I came here with your pound of flesh'. In which Shakespeare play, often criticised for being antisemitic, does one character demand a pound of flesh from another as payment? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. 'Celebrity Skin' as a whole features many allusions to water and drowning, and the album artwork includes 'Ophelia', a painting of the 'Hamlet' character who drowned herself. Which epic poem by TS Eliot, which Courtney Love cited as a lyrical inspiration for the album, contains a section entitled 'Death by Water'? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. 'Reasons to Be Beautiful' contains the line 'threw myself on fires for you'. In Virgil's 'Aeneid', which Carthaginian queen committed suicide by throwing herself onto a funeral pyre and impaling herself with Aeneas' sword? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. Hole got their name from a line in 'Medea', a play by the Greek dramatist Euripides: 'There's a hole that pierces right through me.' Who was Medea in Greek mythology? Hint



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Most Recent Scores
Nov 25 2023 : KayceeKool: 9/10
Nov 04 2023 : Guest 175: 3/10
Oct 12 2023 : Guest 86: 2/10

Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. 'Retard Girl', one of Hole's earliest songs, contains the line 'as shines the moon among the lesser fires', an English translation of the Latin 'velut inter ignis luna minors'. The line is from the first book of 'Odes' by Quintus Horatius Flaccus, a Roman poet. By which name was he also known?

Answer: Horace

'Velut inter ignis luna minors' is from Poem 12 in Book 1 of Horace's 'Odes' and has also been translated as 'like the radiant moon amid the lamps of night' (the version I'm quoting is the John Conington translation, if any Latinists are wondering). It also appears in the liner notes of 'Celebrity Skin'. Horace was active during the reign of Caesar Augustus, also known as Octavian, and served in the losing republican army at the Battle of Philippi. His 'Odes' were heavily inspired by Greek lyric poetry.

'Retard Girl' is on the compilation album 'My Body the Hand Grenade'.
2. 'Good Sister Bad Sister' has a reference to a line from 'Ariel', a Sylvia Plath poem. 'You're choking on big black bloody mouthfuls of it' was Courtney Love's line, while Plath's original was 'Black sweet blood mouthfuls! Shadows!' Ariel is the name of a character from 'The Tempest' by William Shakespeare, but who or what else was the poem named after?

Answer: A horse

Although the most famous Ariel in fiction is Prospero's servant in 'The Tempest', a nature spirit who yearns for freedom, Plath's poem is actually named after a horse that Plath rode regularly at a riding school in Dartmouth, Devon. She wrote it on her thirtieth birthday in 1962. According to Ted Hughes, Plath once went riding on Ariel and it bolted back to the stables, with her clinging onto its neck. The poem also alludes to Plath's habit of getting up early to write poetry before doing the housework.

'Good Sister Bad Sister' is a track on 'Pretty on the Inside'.
3. 'Mrs Jones' features the line 'East is East and West is West...', from 'The Ballad of East and West' by Rudyard Kipling. How does the line end in Kipling's poem?

Answer: ...and never the twain shall meet

'The Ballad of East and West', like many of Kipling's poems, is inspired by life in colonial India. It tells the story of Kamal, an Indian tribal chieftain who steals the mare of a British colonel. One of the native men in the colonel's son's regiment, Mohammed Khan, tells him where he might find Kamal, and the colonel's son gives chase. The colonel's son's horse collapses and Kamal pulls him away and knocks the pistol out of his hand, telling him he is lucky to be alive. The colonel's son argues that if Kamal had had him killed, he would have had the British forces to reckon with. Kamal gives the horse back and the colonel's son gives him a pistol, and they become blood brothers. Kamal also sends his son with the colonel's son to fight for the British.

'Mrs Jones' is a track on 'Pretty on the Inside'.
4. The line 'I'm eating you, I'm overfed' in 'Plump' is a homage to the line 'They are eating each other. They are overfed.' from the poem 'The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator'. Which American poet, who committed suicide in 1974, wrote it?

Answer: Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton is a major influence on Courtney Love's writing. Courtney described both herself and Sexton as part of a tradition of 'going so far out there that you wonder if you are going to implode because you start believing those voices in your head are going to stay.' Sexton won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for the book 'Live or Die'; many of her poems are about her struggles with mental illness, and taboo topics such as abortion and incest. The line 'kill me pills' in 'Miss World' is also a reference to Sexton, who referred to barbiturates as 'kill-me pills' after taking an overdose, and she later killed herself by carbon monoxide poisoning in her car in 1974.

'Plump' is a track on 'Live Through This'.
5. In Hole's version of 'Old Age', a song also recorded by Nirvana, Courtney Love sings, 'No-one knows she's Hester Prynne'. In which book by Nathaniel Hawthorne is Hester Prynne the protagonist?

Answer: The Scarlet Letter

'The Scarlet Letter', set in Puritan Boston, is one of Nathaniel Hawthorne's most famous works. Hester Prynne, the heroine, goes to live in the New World and works as a seamstress while her husband is shipwrecked and presumed dead; she later recognises him among the crowd when she is publicly shamed for giving birth to a baby of unknown parentage. She is forced to wear a scarlet letter A for 'adultery'. Both she and Pearl, her daughter, are shunned by the townspeople and her husband, taking on the name of Roger Chillingworth, forbids her from telling anyone that they are married. Arthur Dimmesdale, a local minister, is later revealed to be Pearl's father.

'Old Age' is a track on 'My Body the Hand Grenade'.
6. 'Celebrity Skin' quotes a line from the poem 'A Superscription': 'Look in my face, my face is Might-Have-Been'. Which of the talented Rossetti siblings, who was an artist as well as a poet, wrote 'A Superscription'?

Answer: Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, like his sister Christina, was a poet. He also provided the art for 'Goblin Market', a narrative poem by Christina about a pair of sisters who encounter a market selling enchanted fruit, which causes one of them to fall ill. Dante founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of poets, painters and critics inspired by 15th century Italian art, along with his brother William and the painters John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt. Born Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, he swapped his names around and called himself Dante after Dante Alighieri.

'Celebrity Skin' is the title track of the album of the same name.
7. A repeated line in 'Celebrity Skin' is 'I'm glad I came here with your pound of flesh'. In which Shakespeare play, often criticised for being antisemitic, does one character demand a pound of flesh from another as payment?

Answer: The Merchant of Venice

'The Merchant of Venice' tells the story of Bassanio, an Italian nobleman who has fallen in love with Portia, a rich heiress, but cannot afford to court her. His friend Antonio, the titular merchant, offers to help Bassanio out if he can find a lender, so Bassanio goes to Shylock, a Jewish moneylender. Shylock agrees to lend him the money without interest, with Antonio as guarantor, but if Antonio cannot pay him back, Shylock will take a pound of his flesh as compensation. At the end of the play, Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity on pain of death. He is a controversial character, and has often been criticised as an antisemitic stereotype, not helped by the fact that the Nazis used 'The Merchant of Venice' as propaganda.

The Jewish writer Howard Jacobson wrote 'Shylock Is My Name' as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, a collection of retellings of Shakespeare's plays. Other contributors included Margaret Atwood ('Hag-Seed', based on 'The Tempest'), Anne Tyler ('Vinegar Girl', based on 'The Taming of the Shrew') and Jo NesbÝ ('Macbeth'). In Jacobson's version, Simon, a rich art dealer from Cheshire, meets Shylock in a cemetery and the two become friends.
8. 'Celebrity Skin' as a whole features many allusions to water and drowning, and the album artwork includes 'Ophelia', a painting of the 'Hamlet' character who drowned herself. Which epic poem by TS Eliot, which Courtney Love cited as a lyrical inspiration for the album, contains a section entitled 'Death by Water'?

Answer: The Waste Land

The modernist poem 'The Waste Land' is one of TS Eliot's longest works at 434 lines, and was published in 1922. Its most quoted lines include 'April is the cruellest month' and 'I will show you fear in a handful of dust'. It also quotes from 'The Tempest' ('those are pearls that were his eyes') and is influenced by a wide variety of works, both religious and secular, from the Bible and the Upanishads (Hindu philosophic texts) to the Buddha's 'Fire Sermon', Homer, James Joyce and Geoffrey Chaucer. HP Lovecraft, more known for his eldritch horror stories, wrote a parody called 'Waste Paper'.

Courtney stated that she had been reading 'The Waste Land' while working on 'Celebrity Skin'. 'Death by Water' is the shortest of the five sections of 'The Waste Land'; the previous section, 'The Fire Sermon', also features plenty of water imagery, including a boat journey down the River Thames in London.
9. 'Reasons to Be Beautiful' contains the line 'threw myself on fires for you'. In Virgil's 'Aeneid', which Carthaginian queen committed suicide by throwing herself onto a funeral pyre and impaling herself with Aeneas' sword?

Answer: Dido

Dido was a legendary queen, said to be the first queen of Carthage (which was in what is now Tunisia). Originally a queen of Tyre, a Phoenician city state in Lebanon, she fled to Carthage to escape her cruel brother Pygmalion (not to be confused with the sculptor who fell in love with a pretty statue). She asked Iarbas, a local king, for as much land as could be covered by an ox's hide, and cleverly cut the hide into stripes to cover as much land as possible. Virgil's epic poem 'The Aeneid' tells the story of the Trojan hero Aeneas who fled to Italy after the fall of Troy and was said to be the ancestor of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. Aeneas goes to Tyre and, thanks to the meddling of various gods, he and Dido fall in love. Aeneas leaves at night and when Iarbas threatens to attack Carthage if Dido does not marry him, Dido climbs onto a funeral pyre and impales herself with Aeneas' sword. Aeneas sees the smoke and recognises it as a bad omen.

'Reasons to Be Beautiful' is a track from 'Celebrity Skin'.
10. Hole got their name from a line in 'Medea', a play by the Greek dramatist Euripides: 'There's a hole that pierces right through me.' Who was Medea in Greek mythology?

Answer: The princess of Colchis, a witch

Euripides was one of the big three tragedians of Classical Athens, along with Sophocles and Aeschylus. Plays by all three have survived in full. 'Medea' is one of these plays, and is set after Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece. Although Medea had helped Jason get the fleece back when she was Princess of Colchis, and the two had married, Jason leaves her for Glauce, the daughter of King Creon of Corinth. Creon tries to have Medea banished, fearing that she might get revenge, but she manages to persuade him into waiting for a day. She poisons a gold dress and crown, and when Glauce puts them on, she dies. Creon also dies trying to save her.

In revenge for Jason abandoning his family, Medea then kills the sons she had with Jason (although she does not do this in other versions of the myth, and some scholars believe that Euripides made this bit up). She flies away in a chariot given to her by Helios, the sun god and her ancestor (the stage hands used a device called a 'mechane', a kind of crane, to create this effect).
Source: Author Kankurette

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor looney_tunes before going online.
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