“April is the cruellest month” wrote a pantywaist third-rate poet who was as clearly and stridently wrong as only a poet can be. There is no cruelty in April to compare, for instance, with the gray, icy expanse of early February. And what cruelty can compare to the red, unblinking eye of mid-July, which withers all things before it? It's true that April might seem to some a waste land of taunting promises, the green-shoot hints of possibilities that will never be realized, but when it comes to all things rude and cruel, the literary calendar has openings all year 'round. Your knowledge is here cruelly tested; and as always, the extra-curricular opinions in the quiz are only those of the quizmaster.
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In this 1876 Anthony Trollope novel of manners, who's the hopeful supplicant in this scene, and who the cruel rebuffer of his advances?
“I hope I have the honour of seeing her ladyship quite well,” said he, bowing low before he ventured to seat himself.
Lady __ would not condescend to say a word, but stared at him in a manner that would have driven him out of the room had he understood the nature of such looks on ladies faces.
Mr. Rubb to Lady Ball, in “Miss Mackenzie”
Mr Mildmay to Mrs. Gotobed, in “The American Senator”
George Mainwaring to Countess Federovna in “The Way We Live Now”
Phineas Finn to Lady Eustace in “Phineas Finn”
In "Tom Jones," our young hero at one point writes a letter full of cannily cruel implications and receives in reply the line "I see you are a villain! and I despise you from my soul. If you come here I shall not be at home." Which lady sends him the note?
"Cruel he looks, but calm and strong/Like one who does, not suffers wrong" says which character in Shelley's Prometheus Unbound?
Phantasm of Jupiter
In Daniel Deronda, poor Gwendolen is treated to an unexpected recitation of cruel abuses, after which we're told: "These words were uttered with a biting accent, but with a determined abstinence from anything violent in tone or manner. Gwendolen, watching ___'s face while she spoke, felt a sort of terror: it was as if some ghastly vision had come to her in a dream and said, 'I am a woman's life.'” What are the uttered words about?
Sir Hugo's youthful indiscretions
Daniel Deronda's youthful indiscretions
Hans Meyrick's youthful indiscetions
Grandcourt's youthful indiscretions
In Shakespeare's cruelty-soaked drama Richard II, Richard himself wails, "My crown I am; but still my griefs are mine. / You may my glories and my state depose, / But not my griefs. Still am I king of those." Who's on the receiving end of this complaint?
John of Gaunt
In Tolkien's The Two Towers, one character spits the following cruel invective at another:
Gibbets and crows! Dotard! What is your house but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek, and their brats roll on the floor among the dogs? Too long have they escaped the gibbet themselves. But the noose comes, slow in the drawing, tight and hard in the end. Hang if you will! I know not why I have had the patience to speak with you. For I need you not, nor your little band of gallopers – long ago I offered you a state beyond your merit or your wit. I have offered it again, so that those whom you mislead may clearly see the choice of roads. You give me brag and abuse. So be it. Go back to your huts!
Who's laying all this on with a trowel, and who's he spitting at?
Sauron (speaking through an intermediary) to Aragorn
The Mouth of Sauron speaking to the captains of the West
Grima Wormtongue speaking to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli
Saruman speaking to King Theoden
While we're in an epic fantasy vein, in which of those will you find the following excoriation:
One word more, a final caution. Do not forget whom to fear at the last. I have had to be content with killing and torment. But now my plans are laid, and I have begun. I shall not rest until I have eradicated hope from the Earth. Think on that, and be dismayed!
Name the book:
Lord Foul's Bane
Game of Thrones
"I must be cruel, only to be kind" – perhaps the most famous twist on cruelty ever uttered. Who first uttered it?
This author, a notorious bottler of historical bilge-water, was cruelly responsible for well over 1000 romance novels with titles like “The Marquis Wins,” “Beauty or Brains?” “Lord Stingo's Folly,” and “Two Hears in Hungary.” She was:
This novel came to its author in a dream, was written in three months, and - surely the ultimate cruelty, to literature and indeed humanity itself? - spawned three sequels and sold 100 million copies in three dozen languages. It was?
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Confessions of a Shopaholic
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It’s well known that Hitler looked to Mussolini’s success in Italy as a model for his own fascism, but a fascinating new book details the lesser-known fact that Hitler had another model as well – an earlier and more exotic one.
F. Paul Wilson’s supremely capable action-hero, “Repairman” Jack, wasn’t always the kneecap-crushing arm-breaking, bad guy-defenestrating paragon his legions of fans know and love; once upon a time, he was a kneecap-crushing, arm-breaking, bad guy-defenestrating neophyte with a dream. “Fear City” takes us back to 1993.