Book Quiz

I may do the film quotes quiz meme that’s doing the rounds, but I was rather taken with the book quote quiz that treated us to yesterday. Given that I won through a mixture of geekery and guesswork, it’s probably beholden on me to post another.

The Rules

(shamelessly cribbed from )

The point isn’t to show off by guessing the titles of ones you’ve read, but by showing powers of reasoning to get setting and time and “interesting thing”. Googling is expressly forbidden, obviously.

All comments are screened and I’ll give out marks on Monday.


One point if you can get within twenty five years of when it was written. (Half point for within fifty years).

One point if you can get the genre/setting (so I’m looking for something like “nineteenth century adventure” “near future sci-fi” “contemporary new york” “cod medieval fantasy”).

One point for author and/or title or series of books.

If you don’t know the actual book/author I will give you a completely unfair discretionary point if you can guess something quite interesting about the book or author just from the text provided (not something obvious like “they start sentences with conjunctions” or “they’re inexplicably fond of the Oxford comma”. So you can still get full points if you don’t know any of the actual books.

Really though, what I’m interested in is why you think what you think about the passages and how you tie them to a place and time. I think for some of them at least, the title should be guessable though. Comments are screened.

The Quotes

Quote 1

To the shepherd, the note of the sheep-bell, like the ticking of the clock to other people, is a chronic sound that only makes itself noticed by ceasing or altering in some unusual manner from the well-known idle tinkle which signifies to the accustomed ear, however distant, that all is well in the fold. In the solemn calm of the awakening morn that note was heard by ****, beating with unusual violence and rapidity. This exceptional ringing may be caused in two ways – by the rapid feeding of the sheep bearing the bell, which gives it an intermittent rapidity, or by the sheep starting off in a run, when the sound has a regular palpitation. The experienced ear of **** knew the sound he now heard to be caused by the running of the flock with great velocity.

Quote 2

And Billy travelled in time to the zoo on ****. He was forty-four years old, on display under a geodesic dome. He was reclining on the lounge chair which had been his cradle during his trip through space. He was naked. The ****ians were interested in his body – all of it. There were thousands of them outside, holding up their little hands so that their eyes could see him. Billy had been on **** for six Earthling months now. He was used to the crowd.

Escape was out of the question. The atmosphere outside the dome was cyanide, and Earth was 446,120,000,000,000,000 miles away.

Quote 3

Now, of course, I do not wish to go to ****’s crap game; and if I do wish to go there I do not wish to go with ####, because a guy is sometimes judged by the company he keeps, especially around crap games, and #### is apt to be considered bad company. Anyway, I do not have any dough to shoot craps with, and if I do have dough to shoot craps with, I will not shoot craps with it at all, but will bet it on Sun Beau, or maybe take it home and pay off some of the overhead around my joint, such as rent.

Quote 4

Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitudes towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.

The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable….

Quote 5

Society of summer evenings in **** was formal and genteel. We didn’t bolt our food and jump up from the table but waited for the slowest eater, me, who hated all vegetables except pickles, and cleared the table, and two of us did dishes, a race between washer and wiper. By then, it was six o’clock. Children of age could go out bike-riding, the younger ones played in the yard. Mother and Dad worked in the yard, except Wednesday, which was prayer meeting, and then sat on the porch, and one by one we joined them.

The porch is about thirty feet long, almost the width of the house, and six feet, eight inches wide. The porch is enclosed with ten-foot-tall screens and we sit in old brown wicker chairs, rocker, couch, except me. I lie on the floor, feet to the house, and measure myself against that wonderful height. A six-eight person can pretty much write his own ticket.

Quote 6

“You have not forgotten my methods since we last met, surely?” says the conceited ass, who I begin to suspect was some kind of maniac. “Very well, apply them. Observe,” he went on impatiently, “that the man wears a pea jacket, with brass buttons, which is seldom seen except on sea-faring men. Add to that the patent fact that he is a German, or German-American -“

“I don’t see,” began the bailiff, only to be swept aside.

“The duelling scars, doctor! Observe them, quite plain, close to the ears on either side.” He’d sharp eyes, all right, to spot those; a gift from Otto Bismarck, years ago. “They are the unfailing trade-mark of the German student, and since they have been inexpertly inflicted – you will note that they are too high – it is not too much to assume that he received them not at Heidelberg or Gottingen, but at some less distinguished academy. This suggests a middle-class beginning from which, obviously, he has descended to at least the fringes of crime.”

Quote 7

I sat down on the edge of a deep soft chair and looked at Mrs ****. She was worth a stare. She was trouble. She was stretched out on a modernistic chaise-longue with her slippers off, so I stared at her legs in the sheerest silk stockings. They seemed to be arranged to stare at. They were visible to the knee and one was well beyond. The knees were dimpled, not bony and sharp. The calves were beautiful, the ankles long and slim and with enough melodic line for a tone poem. She was tall and rangy and strong-looking. Her head was against an ivory satin cushion. Her hair was black and wiry and parted in the middle and she had the hot black eyes of the portrait in the hall. She had a good mouth and a good chin. There was a sulky droop to her lips and the lower lip was full.

Quote 8

In Germany you are not permitted to call an official a ‘silly ass’, but undoubtedly this particular man was one. What had happened was this: **** in the Stadtgarten, anxious to get out, and seeing a gate open before him, had stepped over a wire into the street. **** maintains he never saw it, but undoubtedly there was hanging to the wire a notice ‘Durchegang Verboten!’ The man, who was standing near the gate, stopped ****, and pointed out to him this notice. **** thanked him and passed on. The man came after him, and explained that treatment of the matter in such offhand way could not be allowed; what was necessary to put the business right was that **** should step back over the wire into the garden. **** pointed out to the man that the notice said ‘going through forbidden’, and that, therefore, by re-entering the garden that way he would be infringing the law a second time. The man saw this for himself, and suggested that to get over the difficulty **** should go back into the garden by the proper entrance, which was round the corner, and afterwards immediately come out again by the same gate. Then it was that **** called the man a silly ass. That delayed us a day, and cost **** forty marks.

Quote 9

“Whither goest thou?” echoed **** with his mouth open. We sat and didn’t know what to say; there was nothing to talk about any more. The only thing to do was go. **** leaped up and said we were ready to go back to Virginia. He took a shower, I cooked up a big platter of rice with all that was left in the house, Marylou sewed his socks, and we were ready to go. **** and #### and I zoomed into New York. We promised to see #### in thirty hours, in time for New Year’s Eve. It was night. We left him at Times Square and went back on through the expensive tunnel and into New Jersey and on the road. Taking turns at the wheel, **** and I made Virginia in ten hours.

Quote 10

I was in the middle of preparing lunch when the phone rang again. I had cut two slices of bread, spread them with butter and mustard, filled them with slices of tomato and cheese, set the whole on the chopping board, and I was just about to cut it in half when the bell started ringing.

I let the phone ring three times and cut the sandwich in half. Then I transferred it to a plate, wiped the knife, and put that in the cutlery drawer, before pouring myself a cup of the coffee that I had warmed up.

Still the phone went on ringing. Maybe fifteen times. I gave up and answered it. I would have preferred not to answer, but it might have been Kumiko.

“Hello,” said a woman’s voice, one I had never heard before. It belonged neither to Kumiko nor to the strange woman who had called me the other day when I was cooking spaghetti. “I wonder if I might possibly be speaking with Mr Toru Okada?” said the voice, as if its owner were reading a prepared text.

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