Our Writers' Group had their book launch last week - each of us has written on the theme of railways and we have published a little book called "Trains of Thought." Like the curate's egg, it is good in parts - but at least we have all made an effort and that in itself is worthy.
On the launch evening I did a literary quiz and also made the book cover in the photograph above as the prize (with a writer's notebook inside). The quiz went down very well and luckily only one person got the whole thing right, so I was able to give her the book.
But what really interested me was that I tried the quiz out on various friends and relations beforehand, so that I could be sure it was set about right. My grand-daughter, who is seventeen and doing English A Level (and is far better read than I will ever be) could only answer a few; my son, who has been a keen reader all his life, and - like his daughter - is far better read than I will ever be, got about two thirds of them right and another friend I tried it out on got only a few right. Yet these are all very intelligent, very literary people who read all the time. The difference is that they were all much younger than I am (to varying degrees).
I know that any one of them could have produced a quiz which I could not answer. So that is my question - should the old classic authors and poets still be read by young people?
I thought about how I had got to know the authors and poets in my quiz - and discovered that I had not got this information from school days at all, but from my father, who was himself a very keen reader and who imparted this knowledge to me. If you fancy having a go at the quiz, I print it below. And, incidentally, if you would like to try your hand at making a book cover like the one in the photograph I will print the pattern on my blog with pleasure.
A Who said "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possesion of a fortune must be in want of a wife?
B Who said, "Oh to be in England now that April's there"?
C Who said, "As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean"
D Which poet - "Is there anybody there said the traveller?
E Who said "I have the body of a weak and feeble woman.
F Which poet said "Good fences make good neighbours.
G "And God said let there be light."
H The author of "Chocolat."
I "The wolf shall lie down with the lamb."
J Who said, " A man is generally better pleased when he has a good dinner on the table than when his wife speaks Greek."
K "East is east and west is west."
L "The owl and the pussy cat went to sea."
M "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche."
N "England expects every man will do his duty.
O "That demmed elusive pimpernel."
P "And so to bed."
Q Who rode a horse called Rosinante?
R "Better by far you should forget and smile, than you should remember and be sad.
S "Hail to thee blithe spirit."
T "Into the valley of death rode the six hundred."
U Who was 'so very 'umble."
V "We are not amused."
W Who wandered lonely as a cloud?
X Which poet, beginning with a B, said "You should not take a fellow eight years old and make him swear to never kiss the girls."
Y Who had the words "Horsemen pass by!" on his epitaph.