GRE RC Select Many Sample Questions
The Tale of Genji is very old and very new, a novel about love and society that also, along with Proust’s masterpiece, is one of the world’s great representations of the passage of human time. It immerses us deeply in a strange and distant culture, whose graceful decadence initially seems light-years away from the haste and thirst for progress of modern Japan. But 21st century Japan shares the same sense of fecund decay as Genji’s Heian period. In both eras, society has become complex, gaudy but, finally, ennui -inducing. Now, as then, it is more rewarding to scrutinize the smallest signs of every human interaction rather than engage in the tawdry world outside the concubine’s boudoir or love hotel’s rumpus room.
Genji was written a thousand years ago, and the name of its author has not come down to us. The Tale of Genji depicts no guttural warriors and marauding dragons, but only the eternity of desire and the fading of youth. When characters wish to express their deepest thoughts, they exchange poems, paying consummate attention to every detail of presentation: calligraphy, color of paper and ink. Once we understand how someone could fall in or out of love because of another person’s handwriting (or singing or dancing), we are all set for the long, slow delights of this wonderful novel.Our hero for the first 40 chapters is Genji himself, the son of one of the Emperor’s intimates. He is handsome and graceful and charming, and irresistible to women. Early on, the narrator wonders whether she should be telling us all about Genji’s naughty doings. “No doubt,” she solicits, “I must now beg everyone’s indulgence for my effrontery in painting so wicked a portrait of him.”
A good example of the method of the novel is the death of a young woman possessed by a spirit. Genji has taken her away to a dismal old house, hoping to be far from the public eye. They sleep, and he dreams of one of his jealous mistresses. Then he wakes and sees the spirit of this other woman at his new partner’s pillow. He is terrified, and with good reason, because his new partner is dead. What kind of magic is this? The jealous mistress is still alive, and doesn’t at this stage even know of her new rival’s existence. The young woman is killed; it seems, by a sort of telepathic transfer by the guilt in Genji’s dream. The sheer glamour of life in this world is constantly shadowed by forces that could take it all away – forces inside and outside the world. But the huge attraction of the book is the chance to live the lives of these strange and subtle people in such detail and for so long. Do we know them by the end? Thanks in part to this latesttranslation, we do as well as we know ourselves.
Consider each of the choices separately and select all that apply.
1. Which of the following is NOT true about The Tale of Genji?
- A. The society of that era has been described as eventually depressing and boring
- B. The society of that era was simple and honest
- C. It is Proust’s masterpiece
- D. The readers are unable to understand the complex nature of the characters
- E. There was a deterioration of morality in the era that has been depicted
The correct answers are B, C and D.
It has been brought out that the society of Genji’s era was ennui-inducing. In other words it was boredom’inducing and hence, A is true and so it is an incorrect answer option. The author refers to the decadence of the said era and this implies that B is not true in respect of The Tale of Genji and hence, it is a correct answer option. C is clearly untrue as The Tale of Genji is being compared to Proust’s masterpiece and it is not Proust’s masterpiece itself. Therefore, C is a correct answer option. The end of the passage clearly brings out that the readers know the characters as well as they know themselves and hence, D is untrue and therefore, it is a correct answer option. E has been clearly brought out in the beginning of the passage and hence, it is an incorrect answer option. In view of the above, it is evident that B, C and D are the correct answers.
2. According to the author, the Genji era and modern Japan both
- A. illustrate a strange and distant culture
- B. have nothing in common
- C. are distinctly different
- D. have complex societies that bring about apathy
- E. suffer from a copious degradation of moral values
The correct answers are D and E
The author does not refer to modern Japan as a strange and distant culture anywhere in the passage. Therefore, A is clearly incorrect. The author brings out that modern Japan shares the same sense of decay and decadence as the Genji era and both these societies are ennui-inducing. This implies that D and E are correct. Therefore, B and C are clearlyincorrect and D and E are the correct answers.
3. ‘fecund decay’ can be reworded as
- A. productive collapse
- B. sterile atrophy
- C. prolific decadence
- D. unfruitful decline
- E. barren decrepitude
The correct answers are A and C.
The word fecund means productive, prolific or proliferate. The word decay means breaking down, collapsing or decline. Sterile, unfruitful and barren are antonyms of fecund. In view of the above, it is evidentthat A and C are the correct answers.
4. What according to the author is being brought about by the societies in both the Genji era and modern Japan?
- A. Progress
- B. Boredom
- C. Vigour
- D. Apathy
- E. Enthusiasm
The correct answers are B and D
The author has clearly brought out that in the eras, modern Japan and Genji’s era, society is complex but it is also ennui-inducing. In other words, the society is such that it brings about boredom and apathy. Vigour and enthusiasm are antonyms of ennui. There is no mention of progress being induced by the society in the Genji era. In view of the above, it is evident that A, C and E are clearly incorrect and B and D are the correct answers.
5. Which of the following conclusions is justified based on the contents of the given passage?
- A. The Tale of Genji is a new novel, the story of which is set in a bygone era
- B. Genji inadvertently kills his mistress
- C. After reading The Tale of Genji one starts understanding the characters as well as oneself
- D. It is questionable whether the readers will understand the characters even after reading the entire novel
- E. The Tale of Genji follows its characters with the passage of time
The correct answers are C and E.
A is clearly incorrect as it has been brought out in the passage that The Tale of Genji was written a thousand years ago. B is also incorrect as Genji dreams of his mistress and it is not she who is killed. C is correct as has been aptly brought out in the last sentence of the passage. This implies that D is incorrect. The author brings out that The Tale of Genji is one of the world’s greatest representations of the passage of human time. It has also been brought out that it depicts the fading of youth. This implies that the story follows its characters along with the passage of time and therefore, E is correct.Therefore, C and E are the correct answers.
GRE RC Select Many Sample Questions