Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Irish Writers Trivia: Swift, Yeats, Joyce, Beckett

If you’re celebrating Bloomsday on June 16th, you probably already know that it commemorates the events in James Joyce’s Ulysses, which all took place on June 16th, 1904. But did you know that the character of Leopold Bloom was based on Joyce’s friendship with author Aron Ettore Schmitz? Or that both Mel Brooks and Pink Floyd made references to Bloom in their works?

Irish Essays explores three crucial Irish literary figures – Swift, Yeats and Joyce – in conversation with other influential Irish voices including Mangan, Beckett, Trevor, McGahern and Doyle. Denis Donoghue tackles the questions of Irish national and cultural identity that underlie the finest achievements of Irish writing in all genres. Join the conversation at the Cambridge Book Club!

See how much you know about Joyce and three of his fellow pillars of Irish literature: Jonathan Swift, W. B. Yeats, and Samuel Beckett.

1. When asked to estimate how many hours he spent writing Ulysses, James Joyce answered:

a)   1,000

b)    10,000

c)     20,000

d)    100,000

2. Jonathan Swift famously published under many different pseudonyms. Which was not one of those pennames?

a)     Lemuel Gulliver

b)    M.B. Drapier

c)     Isaac Bickerstaff

d)    George Fallsworth

3. Before making a name for himself as a writer, Samuel Beckett made a name for himself as an athlete. What sport did he play?

a)     cricket

b)    rugby

c)     polo

d)    soccer

4. What word did Jonathan Swift coin in Gulliver’s Travels?

a)     skullduggery

b)    yahoo

c)     dweeb

d)    robot

5. Who did W. B. Yeats once call “the only poet worthy of serious study”?

a)     T. S. Eliot

b)    William Shakespeare

c)     William Blake

d)    Ezra Pound

6. 1922 was a critical year for the development of literary modernism, as it saw the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses and which other key work?

a)     Mrs. Dalloway

b)    The Sound and the Fury

c)     The Waste Land

d)    In Search of Lost Time

7. During the first production of Waiting for Godot, the actor playing Pozzo left the cast at the last minute for a more well-paying role. Who ended up playing the part?

a)     the costume designer

b)    the director

c)     the stage manager

d)    Beckett himself

8. Joan Didion and Joni Mitchell both borrowed a phrase from which W. B. Yeats poem in titles of their work?

a)     The Sorrow of Love

b)    The Rose of the World

c)     The Hosting of the Sidhe

d)    The Second Coming

9. James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia, was reportedly infatuated with what other Irish writer?

a)     Samuel Beckett

b)    Frank O’Connor

c)     Brian Coffey

d)    Patrick Kavanagh

10. Which Irish writer also served as an Irish Senator?

a)     Jonathan Swift

b)    W. B. Yeats

c)     James Joyce

d)    Samuel Beckett


  1. c
  2. d
  3. a
  4. b
  5. d
  6. c
  7. b
  8. d
  9. a
  10. b

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