Monday, January 17, 2011

His first name is an English word

Okay. Say you couldn't think of Maxim Gorky (which, almost, I couldn't, since I think of him as Maksim) (this writer, whose first name is also an English word meaning proverb or motto, was the first president of the Soviet writers' union), still the answers they came up with today really didn't work - even if they didn't know their first names.

Tolstoy? C'mon. He died before the Soviets took over.

Pasternak? A bit of a dissident, though tolerated by Stalin, they hated his novel Dr Zhivago so much it had to be smuggled out of the country. There's no way he would have been chosen to head the writers' union.

And Solzhenitsyn? A total dissident, imprisoned in the camps and eventually exiled from the country.

Plus their names - Leo (or Lev), Boris, and Aleksandr - aren't exactly English words.

Of course, this is a tough question. Lots of people don't know foreign writers' first names...

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At 1:22 PM, January 18, 2011 Blogger Barry Leiba had this to say...

I agree that Americans don't know the names of many foreign authors, but I'd be surprised if people who know Pasternak and Solzhenitsyn don't also know their first names. Gorky, Dostoyevsky, and maybe even Tolstoy, yeah, probably not.

And I would never assume that anyone knows when they lived/wrote relative to when the Soviet Union was formed. Also, don't the Final J! contestants often just put something down, if only so they don't have a blank slate?

At 1:55 PM, January 18, 2011 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Yes, I think they do try not to have a blank slate (some of them clearly use having drawn a blank to put down a joke or their spouse's name), but how could anyone who knows Tolstoy not know he's a 19th century writer?

At 11:53 PM, January 20, 2011 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Tonight there was a "Jeopardy!" clue about the main language spoken in the city of Recife, meaning "reef," where the correct question (which no one got) was, "What is Portuguese?"

Not that it would've made a lick of difference to any of the three contestants, but Alex always seems to pronounce Portuguese with a Spanish accent -- in this case "re-SEE-fay" -- when in Brazilian Portuguese it would be "he-SEE-fee" (grrr!).


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