On Becoming a Novelist Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What does Gardner say "breeds success" in Chapter 1?

2. What is one of the philosophers who has maintained that words inevitably distance us from the brute existence, according to Gardner in Chapter 1?

3. What author does Gardner remark has a persistent mean streak in his writing?

4. To whose poetry and prose had Gardner made allusions to in the novel Grendel?

5. In Chapter 1, Gardner states that "In a literary culture where the very notion of a 'masterpiece' is commonly thought" what?

Short Essay Questions

1. What authors does Gardner use to illustrate language and character in Chapter 1?

2. What does Gardner say of "recognizing the significant" in Chapter 1?

3. How does Gardner explain characterization and story through his hypothetical story in Chapter 1?

4. How does the young author learn technique through reading others?

5. What does Gardner say of writers with "bad taste" in language in Chapter 1?

6. What does Gardner write of expressing characters' emotions in Chapter 1?

7. What is the second indicator of talent that Gardner discusses in Chapter 1? What author does he cite in this?

8. What is the "moronic setup" that Gardner relates in Chapter 1?

9. Where did Gardner learn his method of writing?

10. What does Gardner suggest as ways to understand the psychology of characters unlike themselves?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the exceptions that Gardner makes in reference to James Joyce, Franz Kafka, and Samuel Beckett. What in their writing differs from the traditional and still "works"?

Essay Topic 2

Compare the language and characterizations of Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, and John Updike. How do these authors approach character differently?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the career of Raymond Carver. How did he come to study with John Gardner? What does he relate of his experiences as Gardner's student?

(see the answer keys)

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