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Quiz about Famous First Words  Great British Novels
Quiz about Famous First Words  Great British Novels

Famous First Words : Great British Novels Quiz


This is the second installment in my "Famous First Words" series. I'll give you some clues, then the first line of a British novel, you just pick the title and author. Watch out: in question ten, I'll give you the author, you pick the novel!

A multiple-choice quiz by thula2. Estimated time: 6 mins.
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Author
thula2
Time
6 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
352,545
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
1586
Awards
Top 20% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 166 (4/10), Guest 194 (8/10), Guest 2 (9/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. This epistolary novel (published anonymously in 1818) was the author's response to a challenge. It has given popular culture one of its most recognizable fictional characters, although he is often erroneously named. The letters are between Captain Robert Walton and his sister, Margaret Saville.

Which novel starts with the following line?

"You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings."
Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. This dystopian novel (published in 1932, set in the year 632 A.F.) takes its title from Shakespeare's "The Tempest". The author emigrated to the USA, the country that had greatly shaped his vision of the future, where he died in 1963.

Which novel starts with the following line?

"A squat grey building of only thirty-four storeys."
Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. This novel (published in 1886) opens with such a dreadful act, carried out under the influence of alcohol, that the culprit stays on the wagon for the following twenty-one years. The act takes place in the author's semi-fictional county of Wessex.

Which novel starts with the following line?

"One evening of late summer, before the nineteenth century had reached one-third of its span, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors, in Upper Wessex, on foot."
Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. This novel (published in 1978) was the author's debut, although he/she had published two collections of short stories, "First Love, Last Rites", and "In Between the Sheets". It has been described as macabre, and shocked some due to its theme of incest. The author went on to become one of the top British novelists of his/her era.

Which novel starts with the following line?

"I did not kill my father, but I sometimes felt I had helped him on his way."
Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. This epistolary novel (published in 1868) is said to be one of the first detective novels. The author, who was an associate and friend of Charles Dickens, also wrote "The Woman In White".

We'll start at the prologue: which novel starts with the following line?

"I address these lines - written in India - to my relatives in England."
Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. This post-apocalyptic novel (published in 1951) is narrated by Bill Masen as he strives to survive the dramatic consequences of a supposed meteor shower. He begins his ordeal in hospital and ends up on the Isle of Wight.

Which novel starts with the following line?

"When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere."
Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. This comic novel (published in 1749) is said to be one of the first novels in English. It tells the tale of a foundling and his lust for the girl next door, Sophie Western. Its themes of sex, roguery, hypocritical morality, and class issues came in for criticism from some quarters.

Which novel starts with the following line?

"An author ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordinary, at which all persons are welcome for their money."
Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. This dark, disturbing novel (published in 1984) was its Scottish author's debut. It's narrated by a troubled seventeen-year-old, Frank Cauldhame. The animal cruelty, not to say siblicide, shocked many readers and critics.

Which novel starts with the following line?

"I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped."

Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. This novel (published in 1847) was the author's only published novel. It was published following one of his/her sibling's debut novel's success. It tells the tale of a rather torrid affair that doesn't work out, and ends with the main female character's death.

Which novel starts with the following line?

"I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the solitary neighbor that I shall be troubled with."
Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. Ok, for the last one I'll tell you that this novel was written by Charles Dickens. You guess the book.

Which Dickens' novel starts with the following line?

"Now, what I want is facts."
Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. This epistolary novel (published anonymously in 1818) was the author's response to a challenge. It has given popular culture one of its most recognizable fictional characters, although he is often erroneously named. The letters are between Captain Robert Walton and his sister, Margaret Saville. Which novel starts with the following line? "You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings."

Answer: "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, John Polidori and Mary's husband Percy Bysshe Shelley had a competition to see who could write the best horror story, and Mary came up with "Frankenstein : The Modern Prometheus". Whilst Percy Shelley and Lord Byron's attempts are long-forgotten by all but scholars, Polidori's "The Vampyre" was hugely successful at the time. Since then, however, the book that it influenced (Bram Stoker's "Dracula") has eclipsed it. Mary Shelley's novel has become a classic of English literature.

Its longevity might be thanks to the range of genres it encompasses. Despite being conceived as a horror story, it is also firmly-rooted in the Romantic tradition, and is a precursor to Science Fiction to boot.

Doctor Frankenstein's monster has become one of the most easily recognizable fictional characters in Western culture. However, he is often mistakenly referred to as Frankenstein, but he doesn't actually have a name. Furthermore, the image that is conjured up is actually an invention of Universal Studios make-up artist Jack Pierce, actor Boris Karloff, and director James Whale.

Dracula and Hamlet are also iconic fictional characters. Paul Vicker "the tall vicar" is a hilarious character from madcap British comic, Viz.
2. This dystopian novel (published in 1932, set in the year 632 A.F.) takes its title from Shakespeare's "The Tempest". The author emigrated to the USA, the country that had greatly shaped his vision of the future, where he died in 1963. Which novel starts with the following line? "A squat grey building of only thirty-four storeys."

Answer: "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley

"Brave New World" is littered with references to big-name players in 20th century history, and although some of them might not be instantly recognizable to 21st century readers, characters' names like Polly Trotsky, Benito Hoover, Bernard Marx and Herbert Bakunin will ring a bell. The time setting of A.F. signifies "After Ford".

Huxley was also a prolific writer of non-fiction, and often dealt with issues such as pacifism, spiritualism and recreational psychedelic drug use, all of which he promoted. He also wrote travel books, poetry and even worked on a couple of screenplays.

Before becoming a writer, Aldous Huxley had a short-lived career teaching French at prestigious English public school Eton. Amongst his pupils was George Orwell, who went on to write another classic of dystopian literature, "1984". When Huxley had read "1984", he wrote to Orwell to compliment him on his novel.

Although Huxley spent the latter part of his life in the USA, he never became a citizen as he refused to pledge that he would "take up arms to defend the USA". He died on 22nd November 1963. American president John Kennedy died the same day, which meant almost nobody noticed Huxley's passing away. He had got his wife to give him a dose of LSD, so he probably didn't even notice himself.

"Town Without Pity" was a hit song for Gene Pitney in 1961. "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" (1959) is a short story by Alan Sillitoe about a lad in borstal.
3. This novel (published in 1886) opens with such a dreadful act, carried out under the influence of alcohol, that the culprit stays on the wagon for the following twenty-one years. The act takes place in the author's semi-fictional county of Wessex. Which novel starts with the following line? "One evening of late summer, before the nineteenth century had reached one-third of its span, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors, in Upper Wessex, on foot."

Answer: "The Mayor of Casterbridge" by Thomas Hardy

"The Mayor of Casterbridge" begins at a country fair. A farmworker, Michael Henchard, gets drunk, has an argument with his wife, Susan, and auctions her and their young daughter off. It's quite an opening to a magnificent novel that is a web of lies, tricks and secrets from then on.

"The Mayor of Casterbridge" is Hardy's fourth published novel. It was followed by "The Woodlanders" in 1887, "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" in 1891, and finally "Jude the Obscure" in 1895. "Jude" was received so negatively for its explicit (by Victorian standards) scenes, earning the jocular title, "Jude The Obscene", that Hardy gave up writing prose and stuck to poetry. It has since been recognized as a classic of Victorian fiction, although its bleak tone and its portrayal of fratricide are still too much for the faint-hearted.

Hardy was a prolific poet, and actually saw himself primarily as a poet, although during his lifetime he was more widely known as a novelist. Hardy's Wessex (where almost all of his fiction takes place) is a semi-fictional county that did once exist in Anglo-Saxon England, but didn't at the time his novels are set.

Daniel Defoe's "Moll Flanders" was published in 1721. Milton's epic poem, "Paradise Lost", was published in 1667. Hogarth's "Gin Lane" is a print from 1751. Its sister print is "Beer Street", and the two together depict the folly of drinking gin rather than beer.
4. This novel (published in 1978) was the author's debut, although he/she had published two collections of short stories, "First Love, Last Rites", and "In Between the Sheets". It has been described as macabre, and shocked some due to its theme of incest. The author went on to become one of the top British novelists of his/her era. Which novel starts with the following line? "I did not kill my father, but I sometimes felt I had helped him on his way."

Answer: "The Cement Garden" by Ian McEwan

"The Cement Garden" is a very short novel in which a lot happens (two deaths, transvestism, and incest). However, McEwan manages to keep the tone so blank, detached and apparently emotionless that sensationalism is avoided. It was made into a film, which luckily adhered to the author's line.

McEwan has since risen to huge renown, having won countless awards, had his novels made into successful films (e.g. "Atonement"), and become a writer used to teach kids "how to write well" in British schools.

"Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson is a classic of English Literature. "The Scapegoat" by Daphne du Maurier is a 1957 novel which, like many of du Maurier's books, was made into a film.

Artist Damien Hirst's "Mother and Child Divided" is "a floor-based sculpture comprising four glass-walled tanks, containing the two halves of a cow and calf, each bisected and preserved in formaldehyde solution. The tanks are installed in pairs, the two halves of the calf in front of the two halves of the mother, with sufficient space between each pair that a visitor may walk between them and view the animals' insides." (Tate Gallery website).
5. This epistolary novel (published in 1868) is said to be one of the first detective novels. The author, who was an associate and friend of Charles Dickens, also wrote "The Woman In White". We'll start at the prologue: which novel starts with the following line? "I address these lines - written in India - to my relatives in England."

Answer: "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins

Wilkie Collins met Charles Dickens in 1851, and they fast became bosom friends, a friendship that lasted until Dickens' death in 1870. Dickens had "The Moonstone" published in serial form in his magazine "All the Year Round", where he also published other stuff by his mate Wilkie. Dickens' theatrical company also staged various plays written by Wilkie Collins. Collins wasn't in a position to return the favours, but I'm sure he was wonderful company on their travels together.

Although these days Collins is mostly remembered for "The Moonstone" and "The Woman In White", in his lifetime he was an extremely popular writer and the next episode of his serialized stories were awaited with bated breath. "The Moonstone" is an exciting thriller, but also full of warm, healthy humour.

Of course, who wrote the first detective story is a moot point that I'll leave to the critics and scholars. It might have been either Poe or Collins, but certainly wasn't Agatha Christie as she came on the scene a bit later. "The Magician's Birthday" is an album by British rock band, Uriah Heep, who took the band's name from an infamous Dickens character.
6. This post-apocalyptic novel (published in 1951) is narrated by Bill Masen as he strives to survive the dramatic consequences of a supposed meteor shower. He begins his ordeal in hospital and ends up on the Isle of Wight. Which novel starts with the following line? "When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere."

Answer: "The Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndham

John Wyndham was a prolific writer, "The Kraken Wakes" (1953), "The Chrysalids"(1955), and "The Midwich Cuckoos"(1957) being amongst his most successful novels, many of which have been made into films.

Much like many great authors, John Wyndham came to writing at a rather late age after failing at other endeavors, in his case farming, and law (amongst others). Luckily for him, he came from a privileged background and had the luxury of "messing about" that many of us don't have.

His background in farming very likely came in handy when crafting his masterpiece, "The Day Of The Triffids". However, the thing that struck me on a re-reading of the novel is how little the dreadful triffids feature in the novel, most of the narrative being a post-apocalyptic survival tale. Having holidayed on the Isle of Wight regularly as a child, I wonder if in his shoes, I might have given myself up to the triffids.

"The Book of Dave" is a depressing but hilarious critique of culturally-barren England. "Sunny Morning, Eight Legs" by Lucian Freud is a painting.
7. This comic novel (published in 1749) is said to be one of the first novels in English. It tells the tale of a foundling and his lust for the girl next door, Sophie Western. Its themes of sex, roguery, hypocritical morality, and class issues came in for criticism from some quarters. Which novel starts with the following line? "An author ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordinary, at which all persons are welcome for their money."

Answer: "Tom Jones" by Henry Fielding

"The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling" is a hilarious romp that ruffled a few feathers at the time of its publication, and although it's hardly risqué by today's standards, it's still a great read. It's a kind of bildungsroman which follows Tom from his arrival at Squire Allworthy's home as an abandoned infant, through his rambunctious youth, to his marriage.

Henry Fielding was good at ruffling feathers, and not just regarding sexual morality, but also as a political satirist and as a magistrate who supported judicial reform. He was a constant thorn in Prime Minister Robert Walpole's side, as were many other literary figures such an Anglo-Irish comic genius Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, and Samuel Johnson.

There have been countless adaptations of "Tom Jones", my personal favourite being 1963 film starring the brilliant Albert Finney as Tom. The screenplay for said film was written by "angry young man" John Osbourne.

"The Pilgrim's Progress" is a religious allegory from 1678. "Tommy" is a 1969 rock opera by The Who, mostly written by the band's guitarist, Pete Townsend. "Pamela" was published in 1740. Fielding's "Shamela" is a scathing parody of Richardson's moralizing novel.
8. This dark, disturbing novel (published in 1984) was its Scottish author's debut. It's narrated by a troubled seventeen-year-old, Frank Cauldhame. The animal cruelty, not to say siblicide, shocked many readers and critics. Which novel starts with the following line? "I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped."

Answer: "The Wasp Factory" by Iain Banks

"The Wasp Factory" is a gruesome tale, although despite Frank's dreadful crimes, one can't help but feel for the poor soul. The desolate misery in Bank's tale of an above-averagely dysfunctional family works brilliantly with the pathos of the pathological main character, in whose deranged mind religious rituals take on a bizarre and disturbing form. It's not an easy read, but worth the effort, and although the dark humour might not generate a belly-laugh, it is a very funny book at times.

Banks has found his debut novel difficult to live up to, but his following books deserve a read. He has become increasingly prominent in his outspoken political views and he was one of many intellectuals who criticized Britain's involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He even cut up his passport in disgust following Tony Blair's perceived villainous allegiance with George Bush. He is also a prominent advocate of Scottish independence.

"Trainspotting" (1993) was Scottish writer Irvine Welsh's debut novel. It revolves around a group of heroin addicts and their exploits. "Lord of the Flies" (1954) was Nobel-Prize-winner William Golding's debut novel. It has since become a classic that has been read by millions of British school children, not always voluntarily. "Knife Edge - Two Pieces" by Henry Moore is a sculpture.
9. This novel (published in 1847) was the author's only published novel. It was published following one of his/her sibling's debut novel's success. It tells the tale of a rather torrid affair that doesn't work out, and ends with the main female character's death. Which novel starts with the following line? "I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the solitary neighbor that I shall be troubled with."

Answer: "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontė

"Wuthering Heights" was the only novel that Emily Brontė got published, and it was published under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. Her siblings weren't much more prolific, although each sister managed to knock out a classic, Charlotte with "Jane Eyre", and Anne with proto-feminist masterpiece "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall". Brother Branwell was more adept as a painter.

"Wuthering Heights" wasn't well-received at the time, but has since been recognized as a classic of English literature, and remains a popular classic. The winning formula is a fervent mix of unbridled passion and earthy realism, both a perfect breeding ground for festering brutality. The main criticism of the book at the time seemed to focus on the fact that the characters are bereft of affability, and their apparently vulgar nature seemed to shock some pundits unwilling to see the world as Emily described it.

"Silas Marner" (1861) was Eliot's third novel. "Lord Heathfield" is a portrait by Joshua Reynolds from 1788. "Psycho" by Robert Bloch is the 1959 novel that Alfred Hitchcock based his 1960 horror classic on.
10. Ok, for the last one I'll tell you that this novel was written by Charles Dickens. You guess the book. Which Dickens' novel starts with the following line? "Now, what I want is facts."

Answer: "Hard Times" by Charles Dickens

"Hard Times" was Charles Dickens' tenth novel to be published, and is quite an anomaly in the great English author's oeuvre as it's not set in or around London, and it's rather short. It's also one of Dickens' more overtly political novels in its attack on Utilitarianism, a political theory that was at the time controversial, although it has since been adopted by Western capitalism. Dickens himself had experienced the horrors of manual labour and was adamant about exposing the dark underside of Victorian prosperity.

Dickens' most explicit attempt at socialism has been assessed in varying ways, and the book is undoubtedly naļve at times. Nevertheless, Dickens' authenticity as a man who welcomed social change is cemented in the work. It might not reach the literary heights of "Bleak House", or the iconic cultural status of "Oliver Twist", but "Hard Times" tells us something about how a middle-class reformist saw the misery of the downtrodden, and he tells it well.
Source: Author thula2

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