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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Friday, October 15, 2010

A trick question

I’m thinking of a very famous and hugely influential work of English literature, which has two of its principal characters, one of them the protagonist, being males who have spent a significant amount of time together during the story; AND this immortal work has a scene late in the action of the story where:

these two men are talking to each other; AND

the words “antique”, “Roman”, and “poison” are ALL used in that scene; AND

one of the men expresses positivity about the drinking of a certain liquid from a certain cup or mug, in response to which the other man expresses negativity about the drinking of that liquid from that same cup or mug.

So, the trick question is, what is the title of this immortal work of literature, what are the names of the two men, and what is the name of the liquid?

Now, before you answer, what makes this a trick question is that in the work I am thinking of, as opposed to one which may have already occurred to you, this is NOT a famous scene, i.e., these details are not known to the average, reasonably knowledgeable reader of English literature.

This last hint should eliminate one obvious candidate for the answer, and leaves you with the question as to what that OTHER work is.

If no one has guessed the correct answer by Saturday October 16 at 9 am EST, I will give it, and when I do, I will also explain why this trick question is not just a trivial pursuit, but is significant for understanding both of the famous works of literature in question, and also for understanding what I believe is sorely lacking in most modern literary criticism.

Cheers, ARNIE

P.S. As a bonus hint, there is slyly inserted in that same scene the exact title of a THIRD not as famous work of literature by a third equally famous author.

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