Thursday, January 14, 2016

A 1902 Shakespeare trivia quiz, Part 1

So the university library is being renovated, and all kinds of interesting things are turning up. One of the librarians called me over, in great excitement, to show me her latest discovery: a stack of early-twentieth-century volumes of a journal called New Shakespeareana.

It seems that in those days, academic journals had trivia quizzes. The editor printed a list of 59 70 questions (for some reason, #14 is followed by a second #4), sent in by one B.W.H., who notes, "Of course every one of your readers can answer all the following questions without a Bartlett Concordance, as the answers are all in the Plays." (We had better be able to do that, as the answers are not in the journal.)

For fun, I'll be posting ten questions at a time, followed by my best stab at answers in the comments -- but I can't answer them all by any means, and I'm not sure all my guesses are correct, so everyone else should feel free to jump in.

1) What was Bully Bottom's remedy for a cut finger?
2) What credentials were required of bar-tenders (tapsters) in Shakespeare's time?
3) What was Falstaff's waist measurement?
4) How many children had Mr. Justice Shallow? Give their names.
5) Who was Parson Evans' favorite poet, and favorite poem? What was Falstaff's favorite tune?
6) How did Orsino's nephew lose his leg?
7) What was Holofernes's opinion as to the value of silent letters?
8) Who made Desdemona's handkerchief? and who, according to the arrangement of plays in the First Folios, was the first married woman jealous of her husband?
9) Who had a statue of pure gold after her death?
10) How long did Leontes take to woo and win his queen?


heu mihi said...

Oh my God that is so hard. I know exactly none of the answers, despite having read at least three of the plays inquired about. And in what play is there a Holofernes? (I ask without bothering to make any gesture towards looking it up.) I suspect that he did not like silent letters, however.

Fretful Porpentine said...

1) Cobweb.
2) The ability to draw, tap, froth, and lime (according to the Host in MWW). At least, this is the closest thing that I can find to a tapster-job-interview anywhere in the plays, although it should be noted that the Host simply assumes that Bardolph can do these things, rather than asking for his credentials.
3) It WAS "an eagle's talon" when he was young. What it IS, I have no idea.
4) I think B.W.H. is confused. I can't find any mention of Shallow's children, but Justice Silence has (at least) two children, Ellen and William.
5) Evans's favorite poem is Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." Falstaff quotes or sings a lot of ballads, so it's pretty hard to tell what his favorite tune is, but I suspect the intended answer is "Greensleeves." (MWW again: "Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of 'Greensleeves'...")
6) In a sea-battle against Antonio the Ambiguously Gay Pirate.
7) That they should be pronounced.
8) An Egyptian; and I'm going to guess Adriana in The Comedy of Errors, which is the fifth play in the First Folio, but maybe there are some others in the first four?
9) Juliet.
10) Three months.

Fretful Porpentine said...

Heu Mihi - Holofernes is in Love's Labour's Lost, where he has a ridiculous monologue about how all the ignorant people nowadays say things like "dout" and "caf" when they CLEARLY need to be saying "DouBt" and "CaLf," because why else would words be spelled that way?

Fretful Porpentine said...

Also, upon looking up the relevant passage, I want to change "An Egyptian" in my answer to #8 to "a two-hundred-year-old sibyl in her prophetic fury." Because one cannot have one's magic handkerchiefs sewn by just ANY Egyptian.