Instructions: Please note that the reference text for today's test is the ''Brand-X Anthology of Fiction,'' not the ''Norton Anthology of English Literature.''
The ''Norton Anthology,'' one of the most widely assigned college textbooks in the United States, is an exhaustive collection of excerpts from the best in English literature. Generations of students have complained that ''Norton'' is too big to carry, costs more than a semester's tuition, uses tissue paper for pages, and features squiggly type that takes an electron microscope to read.
The ''Brand-X Anthology of Fiction: A Parody Anthology'' (edited by William Zaranka, Apple-wood Books, Cambridge, Mass., $17.95), on the other hand, is inexpensive and fits with ease into an average book bag. These convenient features stem from the fact that ''Brand-X'' is a compilation of parodies of famous authors, many of them written by other famous authors such as James Thurber and Peter DeVries.
Ernest Hemingway, for instance, never actually wrote a book titled ''Across the Street and Into the Grill,'' but he should have, as the ''Brand-X'' excerpt from this satire makes clear, and in any case I am confident most lit students can't tell the difference between real Hemingway and a bologna sandwich.
So forge ahead bravely, dear students, into this examination. Those who break into spontaneous laughter will receive extra credit, as much of the humor contained in ''Brand-X'' is subtle and can be understood only by those with a detailed knowledge of famous authors' styles.
Part A - 30 points. Compare and contrast the attitudes toward gun control expressed in these two excerpts.
1. From Jane Austen's ''Unpleasantness at the OK Corral'': ''The next morning was fair, and Earp almost expected another attack from the assembled posse. With Dr. Halliday to support him he felt no dread of the event: but he would gladly be spared a shootout, where victory itself was painful. . . .''
2. From a lesser-known Ernest Hemingway story, in which a party of big-game hunters is attacked by a rampaging Monopoly game: ''Suddenly, the fear drained out of me, and I stood very still in the field and aimed the rifle and squeezed off the two rounds. I saw the board lurch backward, and topple. Then came a rain of paper money, of many different colors. There were many twenties. Then the board fell, and was buried under its own money as more houses and big red hotels with good small rooms and warm beds fell around us.''
Part B - 30 points. Read carefully this section of ''The Mote in the Middle Distance,'' by Henry James. In your own words, explain why James's paragraphs remind many people of tangled linguini.
''It was with a sense of a, for him, very memorable something that he peered now into the immediate future, and tried, not without compunction, to take that period up where he had, prospectively, left it. But just where the deuce had he left it?''
Part C - 40 points. James Joyce, in this excerpt from ''Early Morning of a Motion-Picture Executive,'' is (pick one, and substantiate):
A. Portraying in astonishingly accurate detail the thought processes of an artistic sensibility.
B. Displaying his ignorance of the rules of punctuation.
C. Running off at the mouth.
''. . . yes a quarter after what an unearthly hour I suppose they're just getting out on the lot at Fox now starlets combing out their hair for the day let me see if I can doze off 1 2 3 4 5 where was it in Jerrys memorandum yes oversimplify O I love great books Id love to have the whole of Hollywood filming nothing but great books theres nothing like literature presold to the public. . . .''
All finished? Please check your answers and leave your paper in the basket at the front of the room. And remember, next quarter I'm teaching Intro. to English Poetry, featuring (you guessed it) ''The Brand-X Anthology of English Poetry,'' a previous publication of Apple-wood Books that takes iambic pentameter less than seriously.