Writing Literature Tossups

Old college threads.
Locked
User avatar
Jesus vs. Dragons
Tidus
Posts: 615
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:04 pm

Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons » Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:39 am

I read Jerry's guide to writing good tossups and searched for a definitive answer to the following question, but I could not find it. If it is somewhere in the site and I simply missed it, please send me a link to it.

My question: when writing a literature tossup, should the early clue be something that is hard for a person who has read the book/play/poem to remember (ie "In chapter 2. So and So was wearing a blue jacket",) or should it be a clue that is a lesser known fact but is obvious to a person who has read the book? I lean towards the latter, but it seems to me that questions on extremely famous works usually contain some random fact that in no affects the outcome of the book, simply to prevent early buzzing because of the prolific nature of the book. When hearing literature tossups on books I have read, it does normally result in a "power" or an early buzz, but in some questions, it will be nearly impossible to get to a memorable event until the second to last sentence. I can see arguments for both sides, as writing a tossup on a piece of literature that is widely read throughout the country (Romeo and Juliet for example) would prove rather difficult, as nearly every quizbowler has read this play in high school and probably again in college, resulting in buzzer races and easy first clues.
Ethan Hewett
UF 2013
Chipola College 2010
Sneads High School 2009

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6615
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Cheynem » Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:22 am

Ah, good question. This is my general philosophy:

I don't enjoy the trivial clues along the lines of "so and so is wearing a blue jacket in chapter two." To me, the clues should be something memorable or important about the book that should start to ring some bells for people who have read the book or know it well. That's not to say that just because I've read the book, I should buzz in on the first clue, but I also think it's okay to realize, "Hey, if someone really knows this book, they will get it early on." (Obviously, it can be tough with literary works that are very commonly read)
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
at your pleasure
Auron
Posts: 1670
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:56 pm

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by at your pleasure » Sat Jun 13, 2009 12:24 pm

Interesting problem. My first though would be to use an event not a major plot point but is widely discussed in studies of the book. For instance, a (somewhat easier) Moby-Dick tossup could lead in with Ahab throwing his pipe overboard, since that's not a major plot point but is considered an important moment in the development of Ahab's character. This is also where crit clues should come in handy, although those can be risky.
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
"... imagination acts upon man as really as does gravitation, and may kill him as certainly as a dose of prussic acid."-Sir James Frazer,The Golden Bough

http://avorticistking.wordpress.com/

User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6365
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by grapesmoker » Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:20 pm

The early clues should be hard but substantive. They can reference critical responses to a work or a somewhat minor incident or character, but it should be more meaty than "so and so was wearing a blue jacket." Remember, you are trying to uniquely identify the work; if you put in a vague clue, chances are you won't have done that.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance

User avatar
Jesus vs. Dragons
Tidus
Posts: 615
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:04 pm

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons » Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:15 pm

Thanks that is basically along the lines of what I thought. I tried to write a tossup on The Stranger and the only "hard" clue I could give was on Albert Camus himself and a sentence about Salamono's resemblance to his dog, and it was gotten as soon as I said the name "Salamono," and most tossups I hear involve the annoying "so and so blue jacket" early clue, and I definitely wanted to avoid that.
Ethan Hewett
UF 2013
Chipola College 2010
Sneads High School 2009

User avatar
Kouign Amann
Forums Staff: Moderator
Posts: 1134
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:44 am
Location: Morristown, NJ

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Kouign Amann » Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:46 pm

Yeah, I like lit tossups that either (1) start with some interesting crit point someone notable once had or (2) start out with some "hey, were you paying good attention when you read this?" kind of clue: something relatively minor, yet not too minor, and definitely not vague. It should be a pointer as to the general direction of the question; after, you move to more important plot points that firmly establish what you're talking about for someone who has read the book/play/poem.
Aidan Mehigan
St. Anselm's Abbey School '12
Columbia University '16 | University of Oxford '17 | UPenn GSE '19

User avatar
at your pleasure
Auron
Posts: 1670
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:56 pm

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by at your pleasure » Sat Jun 13, 2009 7:07 pm

it was gotten as soon as I said the name "Salamono,"
I just wanted to comment on this since it seems to be a common issue. There's nothing wrong with people getting questions on the leadin; some people know a a lot about some books. It's when someone gets the question off the leadin in a lot of rooms that you should be concerned about the leadin being too easy.
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
"... imagination acts upon man as really as does gravitation, and may kill him as certainly as a dose of prussic acid."-Sir James Frazer,The Golden Bough

http://avorticistking.wordpress.com/

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6615
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Cheynem » Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:11 pm

I also would point out that it is very difficult to decide what is a "minor point" of a book, particularly if it is a book not written about a lot. For example, at Gaddis, I answered a tossup on "A Walk on the Wild Side," getting 30 points for buzzing on the description about decapitated turtles. I have no idea how important that is to the book, the question writer apparently thought it wasn't because it was worth 30 for a super-super power. When I read the question online, there were about three or so lines of clues after that about points from the book that I was unfamiliar with, so it just goes to show the subjectivity. Similarly, the clue about the protagonist meeting Sigmund Freud in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" is a good 30 point clue, I think, because it is indeed relatively minor. But of all the trivial details in that book, that incident stuck with me for whatever reason and I instantly buzzed. It just goes to show that writing is always an imperfect science.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
DumbJaques
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 3080
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2004 6:21 pm
Location: Columbus, OH

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by DumbJaques » Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:46 pm

For example, at Gaddis, I answered a tossup on "A Walk on the Wild Side," getting 30 points for buzzing on the description about decapitated turtles. I have no idea how important that is to the book, the question writer apparently thought it wasn't because it was worth 30 for a super-super power. When I read the question online, there were about three or so lines of clues after that about points from the book that I was unfamiliar with, so it just goes to show the subjectivity.
I actually had that exact same experience on that tossup (though really, I find the turtle beheading impossible to forget). I actually think you'd hit the highest percentages (ie people who have read the book recognizing a sufficiently obscure clue) if you targeted really quirky or memorable incidents like that, but I'd imagine that would often involve disregarding a lack of literary significance, which some people appear to have a problem with.
Chris Ray
OSU
University of Chicago, 2016
University of Maryland, 2014
ACF, PACE

User avatar
fleurdelivre
Tidus
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed May 04, 2005 3:35 am
Location: ???

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by fleurdelivre » Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:00 pm

And quite a few people at ACF Fall got Midnight's Children off a lead-in about Aadam Aziz hitting his nose while praying. It turned out to be a more memorable anecdote than the author had guessed, but then again, it still got answered (albeit immediately) by people who had read the book - so long as the first clue is unique and will reward primarily/solely players who have read the work, it's fine. Note, though, that the tossup didn't give Aadam's name - it used the phrase "a character". I think the difficulty you describe is in dropping a name too soon, which can and should be creatively avoided if it's a sufficiently famous character (say, Salamono).
Katy
Vanderbilt '06 / Harvard '11 / freelance moderator

User avatar
Sir Thopas
Auron
Posts: 1330
Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2006 10:10 pm
Location: Hunter, NYC
Contact:

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Sir Thopas » Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:32 pm

fleurdelivre wrote:I think the difficulty you describe is in dropping a name too soon, which can and should be creatively avoided if it's a sufficiently famous character (say, Salamono).
Yeah, writing that clue as "The protagonist walks up the staircase to his apartment where he meets his neighbor, who spends time with and looks like his dog" is wordier, but better than dropping the name summarily.
Guy Tabachnick
Hunter '09
Brown '13

http://memoryofthisimpertinence.blogspot.com/

User avatar
Jesus vs. Dragons
Tidus
Posts: 615
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:04 pm

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons » Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:44 am

The author of this short novel was the second youngest Nobel laureate, only behind Rudyard Kipling, while also being the first African born recipient of the award. In this work, we are introduced to a neighbor who bears an unfortunate resemblance to his dog, and eventually breaks down after losing it.* Along with Salamano, the reader is introduced to the world in which the title character befriends a man name Raymond who is angry with his girlfriend, and he is thoroughly convinced that she is cheating on him. When the title character writes a “revenge” letter to her, the reader is truly shown the indifference of the title character. Although this story does not end well for him, the protagonist often enjoys swimming, eating at Celeste’s, and smoking. FTP, name this masterpiece of Albert Camus, which begins “Maman died today,” and chronicles the troubles of the title figure, Meursault.
Ans: The Stranger


One of the few impressive feats the main character of this novel can accomplish is masturbating by laying on his stomach(when his valve allowed it) and fantasizing about his dog Rex, a feat which he can… complete with no hands. A few of the things despised by the main character of this work are Soul Train*, the low wages paid to the factory workers of Levy (Lee-Vee) Pants, Greyhound Scenicruiser buses, which he used to take to Baton Rouge to investigate about a job opportunity. These activities are all performed by one Ignatius J. Reilly (must be said pompously,) the main character of what novel which garned a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for John Kennedy Toole?
Answer: A Confederacy of Dunces


These are the two lit tossups I have written about actual works. I plan on writing many more questions. but the need for it is iffy as of right now. We may or not need written questions for our tournament, and until I get a definitive answer, I do not see a need to write any more. I understand both of them are fairly easy tossups, so any critique would be appreciated.
Ethan Hewett
UF 2013
Chipola College 2010
Sneads High School 2009

User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5640
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:28 am

It's not that they are easy that's a problem, since these are acceptable topics for novice college tournaments and whatnot. However, the biggest problem I see lies with your clue selection and writing style. Take the first sentence of your Stranger tossup. For one thing, it is not uniquely identifying, because The Stranger is certainly not the only short novel by Camus. All leadins to tossups need to be unequivocally about that particular topic, so it behooves you to use a clue that is not so vague. This can be solved by my second critique of your leadin, which is that a good tossup on a work of literature will never have clues of biographical trivia like that and will instead open up with either an obscure plot clue or else some kind of literary criticism clue, usually the former. There is nothing about memorizing the age Camus was when he won the Nobel prize, or that he was the first African to win it, that really has anything to do with rewarding deep knowledge of the plot of The Stranger, and by rewarding these bizarre list memorization/math activities/guessing games about the actual novel, you are punishing the really good literature players. Frankly, in pretty much all kinds of questions, those biographical trivia clues are nonexistant anywhere, so you would need to delete that sentence instead of moving it somewhere but keeping it, because there is no need for it. As a somewhat less important thing, the way people write questions is mostly in declarative statements that don't include fluff like "the reader is truly shown the indifference of the title character." Things about how the work demonstrates something to reader, or "we are introduced to," or qualitative judgements like calling something Camus's "masterpiece" should be scrapped in favor of "In this novel, some character does this thing" style writing. Giving analysis of the work in a tossup is not a good idea when you can instead be giving buzzable clues, and cutting out fluffy wording like the examples I cited can make your tossups more economical. Another specific problem with your Stranger tossup is that Maman is not someone's name. It is simply the French word for "mama," so if you are going to use English for the rest of the translated sentence it would be a good idea to translate that word as well.
Your Confederacy of Dunces tossup is somewhat better: however, there is no reason to give performance cues to moderators. Cut that out, and also cut out the "clever" writing in your clue about how he fantasizes about Rex... which he can do with no hands. I don't understand why the ellipses and everything behind it need to be there to help people buzz. Also, again I would say cut the Pulitzer prize clue, because it doesn't really help anybody get it who doesn't already know it's by Toole and it doesn't have much to do with the actual literary significance of the book.
Bear in mind, this is in no sense a complete critique of these questions, because some clues and all that need to be moved around, but these strike me as the biggest problems with your writing. What I would strongly suggest is seeing if your school has masterplots, or getting it yourself, and then using that database to find your literature clues, because that will have lots of plot clues right at your fingertips that will do a much better job of rewarding people with real knowledge. I think if you can break the bad habits of biography trivia and using worthless statements in favor of having your tossups be full of concrete, unique factual statements about your answer, that is the most important thing. Hopefully once you get in the hang of forcing yourself to only write that way, your internal gauge of clue placement will start to really improve.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

User avatar
Captain Sinico
Auron
Posts: 2840
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2003 1:46 pm
Location: Champaign, Illinois

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Captain Sinico » Sun Jun 14, 2009 1:16 pm

While I agree with most of the stuff Charlie has said, this:
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:...Another specific problem with your Stranger tossup is that Maman is not someone's name. It is simply the French word for "mama," so if you are going to use English for the rest of the translated sentence it would be a good idea to translate that word as well.
is problematic. The book itself, in translation, refers to that character is "Maman" (exclusively, actually, as I recall) and that first line's pretty famous, so quoting it is a fine middle clue to me.

MaS
Mike Sorice
Coach, Centennial High School of Champaign, IL (2014-) & Team Illinois (2016-2018)
Alumnus, Illinois ABT (2000-2002; 2003-2009) & Fenwick Scholastic Bowl (1999-2000)
ACF
IHSSBCA
PACE

User avatar
Mechanical Beasts
Banned Cheater
Posts: 5673
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:50 pm

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Jun 14, 2009 1:20 pm

I agree with Mike, here; I think we chose the translation we read junior year of high school in part because it was one of several that used "Maman" in the English, rather than translating it as "Mother," as several did.
Andrew Watkins

User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5640
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:05 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:While I agree with most of the stuff Charlie has said, this:
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:...Another specific problem with your Stranger tossup is that Maman is not someone's name. It is simply the French word for "mama," so if you are going to use English for the rest of the translated sentence it would be a good idea to translate that word as well.
is problematic. The book itself, in translation, refers to that character is "Maman" (exclusively, actually, as I recall) and that first line's pretty famous, so quoting it is a fine middle clue to me.

MaS
The only copy of the stranger I've ever seen that's not in French opens with calling her Mother, and now I'm confused as to why a translator would call the character by Maman when that's clearly not her actual name, instead just being a French word for mom. I guess if somebody translated it that way, then I can't criticize using it as a clue, but it seems bizarre for someone to actually be translating it that way.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5640
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:11 pm

I just looked it up on wikipedia, apparently 2 of the 3 translations (including the first one that was most widely in print for a long time) translate it as mother, and the other by Ward seems to use both from the excerpt. According to wikipedia, "The critical, literary difference of translation is in the accurate connotation of the original French emotion in the story's key sentence."
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

User avatar
Jesus vs. Dragons
Tidus
Posts: 615
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:04 pm

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons » Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:14 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:It's not that they are easy that's a problem, since these are acceptable topics for novice college tournaments and whatnot. However, the biggest problem I see lies with your clue selection and writing style. Take the first sentence of your Stranger tossup. For one thing, it is not uniquely identifying, because The Stranger is certainly not the only short novel by Camus. All leadins to tossups need to be unequivocally about that particular topic, so it behooves you to use a clue that is not so vague. This can be solved by my second critique of your leadin, which is that a good tossup on a work of literature will never have clues of biographical trivia like that and will instead open up with either an obscure plot clue or else some kind of literary criticism clue, usually the former. There is nothing about memorizing the age Camus was when he won the Nobel prize, or that he was the first African to win it, that really has anything to do with rewarding deep knowledge of the plot of The Stranger, and by rewarding these bizarre list memorization/math activities/guessing games about the actual novel, you are punishing the really good literature players. Frankly, in pretty much all kinds of questions, those biographical trivia clues are nonexistant anywhere, so you would need to delete that sentence instead of moving it somewhere but keeping it, because there is no need for it. As a somewhat less important thing, the way people write questions is mostly in declarative statements that don't include fluff like "the reader is truly shown the indifference of the title character." Things about how the work demonstrates something to reader, or "we are introduced to," or qualitative judgements like calling something Camus's "masterpiece" should be scrapped in favor of "In this novel, some character does this thing" style writing. Giving analysis of the work in a tossup is not a good idea when you can instead be giving buzzable clues, and cutting out fluffy wording like the examples I cited can make your tossups more economical. Another specific problem with your Stranger tossup is that Maman is not someone's name. It is simply the French word for "mama," so if you are going to use English for the rest of the translated sentence it would be a good idea to translate that word as well.
Your Confederacy of Dunces tossup is somewhat better: however, there is no reason to give performance cues to moderators. Cut that out, and also cut out the "clever" writing in your clue about how he fantasizes about Rex... which he can do with no hands. I don't understand why the ellipses and everything behind it need to be there to help people buzz. Also, again I would say cut the Pulitzer prize clue, because it doesn't really help anybody get it who doesn't already know it's by Toole and it doesn't have much to do with the actual literary significance of the book.
Bear in mind, this is in no sense a complete critique of these questions, because some clues and all that need to be moved around, but these strike me as the biggest problems with your writing. What I would strongly suggest is seeing if your school has masterplots, or getting it yourself, and then using that database to find your literature clues, because that will have lots of plot clues right at your fingertips that will do a much better job of rewarding people with real knowledge. I think if you can break the bad habits of biography trivia and using worthless statements in favor of having your tossups be full of concrete, unique factual statements about your answer, that is the most important thing. Hopefully once you get in the hang of forcing yourself to only write that way, your internal gauge of clue placement will start to really improve.
Thanks for this. I knew that the lead-in clue for The Stranger was uneccessary, but at the same time I could not think of a clue that wouldn't be too easy. In retrospect, the cute clue was unneccessary, as I could have simply worded the clue different and simply stated he could masturbate with no hands lol.

PS: I think the "Maman" situation results from the translation that is read. The older translation is more Anglicised (as it was written by a British man) while the newer one is a more direct translation.
Ethan Hewett
UF 2013
Chipola College 2010
Sneads High School 2009

User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5640
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:17 pm

Wikipedia wrote:Writer Steve Gerber cites Albert Camus, and especially The Stranger, as his principal influence, particularly upon Howard the Duck (1974-1978): Howard is Mersault with a sense of humor, an existentialist who screams and quacks as a hedge against sinking into utter despair. [6]
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

User avatar
Jesus vs. Dragons
Tidus
Posts: 615
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:04 pm

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons » Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:22 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:
Wikipedia wrote:Writer Steve Gerber cites Albert Camus, and especially The Stranger, as his principal influence, particularly upon Howard the Duck (1974-1978): Howard is Mersault with a sense of humor, an existentialist who screams and quacks as a hedge against sinking into utter despair. [6]
I wish I could be compared to Howard the Duck...
Ethan Hewett
UF 2013
Chipola College 2010
Sneads High School 2009

Tower Monarch
Rikku
Posts: 360
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:23 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Tower Monarch » Sun Jun 14, 2009 3:11 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:
Captain Sinico wrote:While I agree with most of the stuff Charlie has said, this:
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:...Another specific problem with your Stranger tossup is that Maman is not someone's name. It is simply the French word for "mama," so if you are going to use English for the rest of the translated sentence it would be a good idea to translate that word as well.
is problematic. The book itself, in translation, refers to that character is "Maman" (exclusively, actually, as I recall) and that first line's pretty famous, so quoting it is a fine middle clue to me.

MaS
The only copy of the stranger I've ever seen that's not in French opens with calling her Mother, and now I'm confused as to why a translator would call the character by Maman when that's clearly not her actual name, instead just being a French word for mom. I guess if somebody translated it that way, then I can't criticize using it as a clue, but it seems bizarre for someone to actually be translating it that way.
To be clear, the "Maman" translation is a pretty big issue among French translators as it is used just as frequently and in many of the same situations as Americans would say "Mom." For an English book with an unnamed mother figure always referred to as "Mom," quizbowl questions say "Mom" or "The mother." In questions on l'Etranger, I suggest you likewise either use "Maman" or "the mother." In a way, "Maman" is her name, just as "Nately's Whore" is a character in Catch-22, despite its absence on her birth certificate. Also, yeah, most introductions to the novel in translation will spend a few paragraphs explaining what Maman really means and how "mother" was the old way but doesn't show the fact that he relates to his mother in that first sentence. It's important to the work and definitely an ideal middle clue.
EDIT: As a side note, I have only read this in French and then skimmed introductions and essays on the translations, so I have no idea if they consistently stick with Maman after the opening line, but I would imagine they do.
Cameron Orth - Freelance Writer/Moderator, PACE member
College: JTCC 2011, Dartmouth College '09-'10, '11-'14
Mathematics, Computer Science and Film/Media Studies
High School: Home Schooled/Cosby High '08-'09, MLWGSGIS A-E '06-'08

User avatar
Mechanical Beasts
Banned Cheater
Posts: 5673
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:50 pm

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Jun 14, 2009 3:46 pm

They always do stick with Maman. The fact that Meursault calls her Maman is important. It's easily as valid to call her Maman as anything else, and arguably far more so.
Andrew Watkins

User avatar
Sir Thopas
Auron
Posts: 1330
Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2006 10:10 pm
Location: Hunter, NYC
Contact:

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Sir Thopas » Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:09 pm

everyday847 wrote:The fact that Meursault calls her Maman is important.
Confirm; the translator's note in my copy (which used Maman) told me so.
Guy Tabachnick
Hunter '09
Brown '13

http://memoryofthisimpertinence.blogspot.com/

User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5640
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:03 pm

They always do stick with Maman.
Did you read what I posted about how apparently multiple translations do in fact use the word mother because there is a legitimate translators debate over whether you need to use that word or can convey enough meaning just by saying mother, and not whatever you two both just posted?
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

User avatar
Mechanical Beasts
Banned Cheater
Posts: 5673
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:50 pm

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:07 pm

Yeah; I didn't mean to say the bit you quoted. Not sure what I meant by it, rather, I hold by the second part, which is that using the word Maman in the tossup is perfectly appropriate in the tossup and the use of the untranslated word is itself an entirely appropriate middle clue, which is contrary to what you were initially arguing, unless I misread you totally.
Andrew Watkins

Tower Monarch
Rikku
Posts: 360
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:23 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Re: Writing Literature Tossups

Post by Tower Monarch » Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:22 pm

everyday847 wrote:Yeah; I didn't mean to say the bit you quoted. Not sure what I meant by it, rather, I hold by the second part, which is that using the word Maman in the tossup is perfectly appropriate in the tossup and the use of the untranslated word is itself an entirely appropriate middle clue, which is contrary to what you were initially arguing, unless I misread you totally.
I think you were responding to my edited-in note. But yeah, to reiterate, Maman can be used as if it were her name, or you could translate it (use "mother" probably, maybe "mom," but it doesn't have the juvenile connotation of "mama").
As it applies to the original topic of this thread: Definitely look for discussion of the work (if you can get Masterplots, use it, otherwise try google .edu searches or the like to find what academics see in the work) to find interesting things like the translator debate over l'Etranger's opening line ("Maman est morte aujourd'hui," IIRC), because those are the types of clues you can put in the first half that are challenging enough to reward readers rather than memorizers. Obviously, checking packet archives help decide if the clue is a lead-in or just a middle clue, because the whole Maman thing (as well as the Edward Said on Mansfield Park thing) has been used enough as a first or second line.
Cameron Orth - Freelance Writer/Moderator, PACE member
College: JTCC 2011, Dartmouth College '09-'10, '11-'14
Mathematics, Computer Science and Film/Media Studies
High School: Home Schooled/Cosby High '08-'09, MLWGSGIS A-E '06-'08

Locked