Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,969 (Sat 27 Mar)/Pasquale – Dead Poets’ Society

Posted by rightback on April 3rd, 2010


Solving time: 14 mins

The eight answers referred to in the preamble as being clued without definition are all poets, and as suggested by 8dn they appear in the ‘corners’ of the puzzle. Most of them at least rang a bell (though not EMPSON) so I didn’t find this too difficult although I struggled in the bottom left. Other than a couple of quibbles this was as expected from Pasquale, i.e. accurate clues with smooth surface readings.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 GOETHE; GO + ETHE[r] – fell hook, line and sinker for ‘number’ here, even writing in ‘Gothee’ initially. “What’s the difference between ‘joist’ and ‘girder’?”, said one Irishman to another? “Easy,”, said the second, “Joyce wrote Ulysses and Goethe wrote Faust.”
6 COWPER; COPER around W[ife] – William Cowper.
11 LEAN (2 defs) – I toyed with ‘mean’ here which fits the second definition but not the first.
12 AT THE FRONT (definition + literal interpretation)
13 ALTERCATION; (ACTION)* – wordplay in the answer: ‘alter CATION’ is a cryptic ‘formula for ACTION’.
18 PRESS BARON (cryptic definition) – my last entry because although I knew this referred to Conrad Black (a newspaper mogul currently doing time for fraud) I couldn’t remember exactly what he did, so struggled on the first word; ‘Irish’ looked plausible for a while, but fortunately I persevered.
21 SUIT (2 defs)
22 BONIFACE; BON[bon] + I FACE (as in ‘make a face’) – the patron saint of Germany.
23 CUR + ATE – Ate being the Greek goddess of mischief.
24 EMPSON; (ONE)* around MPs – William Empson; not a name I knew, but I couldn’t see any other interpretation.
25 LARKIN; LARKIN[g] – Philip Larkin.
1 PERSONAL; PAL around E.R + SON
2 AHIMSA; H in AIM, + S.A. (= Salvation Army) – luckily I knew this Sanskrit word meaning a code of non-violence, because I couldn’t see the wordplay when solving (and I think the ‘the’ is a little unfair).
3 DOCUMENT; U MEN in (D[ay] + OCT)
4 UPREAR – because if you ‘bring up [the] rear’ you are last; the definition is ‘to rise’.
5 GRAVES; GRAVE + S – Robert Graves, I think.
7 RACINE; RACE around IN – my first thematic entry, and if you’d have asked me what it meant I’d have said a bird (maybe confusing with ‘ratite’?). It’s actually French dramatist Jean Racine.
8 POET’S CORNER; (PRECENTOR SO)* – one of the most famous features of Westminster Abbey. This kind of cringeworthy partial definition (‘…helps to make an abbey famous’) is used by Araucaria all the time, but it’s surprising from Pasquale. Only after solving did I realise the thematic significance of this answer.
14 EMBLAZON; E + M.B.A. (= Master of Business Administration) around L, + ZON[e] – not convinced by ‘inadequate’ to mean ‘with the last letter removed’. I found this clue hard, even with three checking letters and a (correctly) hypothesised ‘B’ from 18ac.
15 ON STRIKE; ON TRIKE around S[treet] – I kicked myself for not spotting ‘three-wheeler’ = TRIKE.
16 BROOKE; “BROOK” – First World War poet Rupert Brooke. This was another I was very slow on.
17 MILTON, from WILTON – the carpet (which I hadn’t heard of) is named after Wilton in Wiltshire, and the poet John Milton wrote Paradise Lost.
19 SHIPPO; SHIP + rev. of OP – luckily I did know this word, otherwise the bottom left would have caused me even more problems than it did anyway.
20 NEC + TAR

27 Responses to “Guardian 24,969 (Sat 27 Mar)/Pasquale – Dead Poets’ Society”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thank rightback. The theme came readily with 25a but I struggled to make sense of 17d, so value your explanation. It was the top left that stalled me, being slow over Goethe though I’ve a lot of him. Never heard of ahimsa, but it had to be that. In 9a, how does LS = it is, I wonder. I didn’t like UL as abbreviation in 10a,and found 11a pretty dull. Apart from that, full marks Pasquale.

  2. molonglo says:

    Read a lot of Goethe, I mean.

  3. molonglo says:

    Sorry, another correction. In 9a, how does SA= it is?

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Rightback, I really enjoyed this, after eventually latching on to the theme through 25a LARKIN.

    However, I hesitated with 7d before opting for RACINE because I wasn’t aware that he was a poet. Was he?

    I thought of Conrad Black quite early as being the PRESS BARON but I hesitated until I had found all the poets. It was very clever of Pasquale to place all 8 to include a corner square.

    I’d never heard of EMPSON, SHIPPO or AHIMSA previously but thanks to Pasquale I now use them all several times a day.

    One of the last to go in was POETS CORNER.

    I doubt if I shall enjoy today’s offering by Arauracia (sic) – see the Instructions – because the PDF print out is microscopic.

    In other words, it’s a real shippo.

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks rightback. I really struggled with this!

    molonglo, SA = Sex Appeal = IT. Rather dated crosswordese I’m afraid.

  6. Biggles A says:

    I struggled with this one too and had to revert to the internet to make sense out of SHIPPO and AHISMA. I did manage to stumble on the theme quite early with COWPER and RACINE. It never occurred to me though that the poets were in the corner of the grid. Thanks Rightback. Stating the obvious I suppose, W is an M turned over.

  7. john goldthorpe says:

    Racine is of course best known as a playwright but he wrote largely in rhyming alexandrines and I think the French at least would regard him as a great poet.

  8. Mr Beaver says:

    Thanks for the explanation, though I remain underwhelmed by the SW corner, much of which remained blank!
    I did consider SHIPPO (thanks to Word Wizard), but this appeared to be some character from a manga story, so rejected it. What is it?
    22a – I hardly think ‘face’ is a synonym for ‘grimace’
    14a – I think the clue has been tortured beyond recognition in order to make the surface

    But – the theme was very nice, especially the placement of the poets, one might almost say it was a bit of a 23’s egg!
    (And I know I’m misusing that expression,so need to correct me!)

  9. Sil van den Hoek says:

    This was hard!
    Even though the theme was not a problem at all.

    Looking at the construction of the clue in 25ac, we thought: thát must be one of them.
    So LARKIN went in, while the others quickly followed.
    [we liked the naughtiness of turning the W of WILTON upside down, maybe a well-known trick, but we had seen it only once before (about a year ago at – of all places – Cryptica, but couldn’t find it back in its incomplete archives, so no actual proof)]

    The poets were very nicely spread around the grid in a symmetrical way.
    But because they were ‘on the outside’, it didn’t help us that much further.
    However, the SE and most of the top half got filled bit by bit, still showing two gaps for which Mrs Chambers was of great help (AHISMA and UPREAR [which needed only confirmation]).
    And that was it for Saturday.

    We picked up again on Sunday afternoon, and all at once saw the light in the SW corner. SHIPPO was already considered as the right answer the day before (because it sounded Japanese), and EMBLAZON and BONIFACE [both very well clued] were the next.

    For us, the real problematic clues were the longer ones 8d and 18ac.
    In 8d it was clear from the start that it was an anagram of ‘Precentor so’ but we were looking for a ‘famous abbey’, like e.g. PONTE CORRES [could have been somewhere in Spain … :)].
    And missing the R from 18ac, we only had –O-T-/C—E-.
    But we found the right answer, after decyphering the PRESS BARON of 18ac.
    We had never heard of Conrad Black (shame on us?), and were not sure if it was fair to clue a rather general word with something so specific.

    Apart from that: high quality clues (except maybe one or two, like 4d, which we didn’t find up to the standard of this crossword), we thought, with good surfaces.
    It always looks easier when you know the answers, but it wasn’t simple.
    The word ‘authoritative’ springs to mind – yes, a rewarding crossword.

    [and, almost forgot, thanks rightback – no music of the day?

  10. Tokyo Colin says:

    I struggled mightily with this and ultimately failed, needing the solutions for several clues, including 18a,22a,19d,20d. I had Goethe, Cowper, Graves, Larkin, Empson and Racine but only from the clues and could not establish a connection (Cowper is a cricketer, Graves is a wine etc.) Tried to find an abbey name from “precentor so” but was searching for Porte or Conte. Not knowing that Poets Corner is in Westminster Abbey certainly didn’t help. I live in Japan and know a bit about the culture and wares but shippo is new to me. Should have connected Conrad with 18a but what sort of clue is this?

    Not even going to attempt today’s prize crossword. I don’t even understand the instruction “These are to be entered in the unclued spaces in the diagram, wherever they will go, unless they appear hidden in other solutions.” Is this in code?

  11. Pasquale says:

    Thanks for all the feedback. And, Colin, don’t be put off the rubric in today’s Araucaria. Once you get into it, it’s a lot less scary than you might think! I enjoyed it a lot.

  12. Richard says:

    I spent a lot of time on this and didn’t complete it. I really did not enjoy it.

  13. Dave Ellison says:

    Thank’s rightback for the explanations, especially for the BL corner, which I sorely needed. I didn’t enjoy this at all; Pasquale I hardly ever finish, and he is the hardest compiler in my book. I struggled for ages, getting no solutions the first and second time through, though I eventually, after 70 minutes, got 22 solutions.

    Had I got 22a, it would have furnished us another answer in today’s quiz in the Guardian’s magazine!

    Enjoying the Auracaria today – it really isn’t so difficult as the preamble might suggest.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks, rightback. I got into the theme straight away with LARKIN and didn’t have too much trouble with the rest of the poets (having done Racine at school helped). Also noticed that the all the theme answers were placed symmetrically. Didn’t help with 8dn, however, as I spent ages trying to find a famous abbey.

    Wasn’t sure about UL as an abbreviation, or ‘face’ for ‘grimace’ and needed help to get AHIMSA. One mistake: had UPBEAR at 4dn.

    I thought this was pretty hard! 13ac and 1§7dn were my favourite clues.

  15. Eileen says:

    Thanks, rightback.

    My first entry was the POETS’CORNER anagram [aren’t we all different?] but it took a while to realise that this was the theme [my entrée was Brooke] and even longer for the penny to drop that the poets were actually in the corners – brilliant! Many thanks for a lovely puzzle, Pasquale. My favourite was 13ac. and 17dn made me smile.

    Re the reservations re UL: U [University] is a commonplace and we’ve quite often recently had L[ecturer], although I wasn’t originally familiar with it. I took these as discrete abbreviations and so they worked for me.

  16. Bogeyman says:

    Like Dave Ellison, I find Pasquale the hardest compiler – I didn’t get anywhere near finishing this and found it frustrating. Looking back, it’s a very clever conceit, having poet’s corner down the centre, and then four poets’ corners in each quarter of the grid – it’s just the cluing was too difficult for me!

    Today’s Araucaria is brilliant fun!

  17. Daniel Miller says:

    Just completed the Prize Crossword – I don’t generally bother with these but I do like the Bank Holiday Specials*. Was nicely constructed and quite tough – especially to get off the mark which is how it often is. Some interesting word play (and one or two which I haven’t quite followed through to their logical answers.. will have to wait till next Saturday (?) for further enlightenment.

    *I stopped reading The Guardian for 20 odd years (I now realise what I was missing!) excepting the Christmas Araucaria which always kept me going over the entire holiday season and has always been a particular favourite.

  18. Grumpy Andrew says:

    If the bulk of contributors here found this hard then I think the Guardian crossword editor needs to ask what proportion of Guardian readers found it a futile waste of time.

  19. rrc says:

    Poets corner and altercation were the first two clues in. Then I came to a complete standstill. While talking to somebody later on the day, the mention of Poets corner and eight undefined answers fell neatly into place. It was an ingenious way of indicating the theme. Brilliant!

  20. beermagnet says:

    I wondered if the theme of the puzzle was inspired by this recent news, but then HUGHES was not one of the poets, and some are only in their crossword corner, not the abbey.

  21. Ian says:

    Thanks for everything rightback.

    First off, I have to pay a big complement to Pasquale for the elegantly constructed grid with the central clue forming the spines whilst the eight poets we places on the edges in perfect symmetry. Such a pleasing sense of proportion and balance.

    Empson a little obscure compared to the others. It was only about ten years ago I encountered him for the first time when reading Nick Clarke’s excellent bio of Alistair Cooke. Empson was at Cambridge with him. Jesus and Magdalene respectively.

    Of the rest both Boniface and Emblazon were superb examples of the setters art and are to be especially commended.

    Suitably hard for a Prize Crossword but very, very enjoyable.

    Bravo Pasquale.

  22. Val says:

    If anyone is still around on this thread, could you please explain why “water channel” or even “water channel running” gives RACE in 7dn?

  23. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Val, yep, I am still around.
    My Mrs Chambers says that RACE cán be: “a channel conveying water to and from a mill wheel” – which explains it all.
    Having said that, it is not the most obvious way to describe RACE, which, for me, is exactly one of the hard things about Pasquale’s style: using the un-obvious for describing the obvious.

  24. Val says:

    Thanks, Sil!

  25. rightback says:

    Thanks to all commenters. I’m surprised and interested to learn some solvers find Pasquale the hardest of the Guardian compilers.

    Sorry about the lack of music, Sil – I had too little time to write this blog and forgot!

    [Val, I believe RACE is used in the phrase “mill race”, as in the explanation from Sil (to whom thanks).]

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi, rightback, what about “Poetry in Motion” by Johnny Tillotson.
    [yeah, I know, a long long time ago, 1961, but still …]

  27. rightback says:

    Sold – here you go!.

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