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With their recognition of Maxine Hong Kingston as a major literary fig

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With their recognition of Maxine Hong Kingston as a major literary fig [#permalink]

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LSAT October 2008, Passage #3: Chinese Talk-story


This passage covers Maxine Hong Kingston and the literary antecedents of her writings in Chinese talk-stories. While the passage wasn’t overly absorbing, the eight questions were where the real difficulty appeared, and many students struggled between two or more answers on more than one occasion. Overall, after reading the passage, most students wanted nothing more to do with Kingston or her stories.


With their recognition of Maxine Hong Kingston as a major literary figure, some critics have suggested that her works have been produced almost ex nihilo, saying that they lack a large traceable body of direct literary antecedents especially within the Chinese American heritage in which her work is embedded. But these critics, who have examined only the development of written texts, the most visible signs of a culture’s narrative production, have overlooked Kingston’s connection to the long Chinese tradition of a highly developed genre of song and spoken narrative known as “talk-story” (gong gu tsai).

Traditionally performed in the dialects of various ethnic enclaves, talk-story has been maintained within the confines of the family and has rarely surfaced into print. The tradition dates back to Sung dynasty (A.D. 970–1279) storytellers in China, and in the United States it is continually revitalized by an overlapping sequence of immigration from China. Thus, Chinese immigrants to the U.S. had a fully established, sophisticated oral culture, already ancient and capable of producing masterpieces, by the time they began arriving in the early nineteenth century. This transplanted oral heritage simply embraced new subject matter or new forms of Western discourse, as in the case of Kingston’s adaptations written in English.

Kingston herself believes that as a literary artist she is one in a long line of performers shaping a recalcitrant history into talk-story form. She distinguishes her “thematic” storytelling memory processes, which sift and reconstruct the essential elements of personally remembered stories, from the memory processes of a print-oriented culture that emphasizes the retention of precise sequences of words. Nor does the entry of print into the storytelling process substantially change her notion of the character of oral tradition. For Kingston, “writer” is synonymous with “singer” or “performer” in the ancient sense of privileged keeper, transmitter, and creator of stories whose current stage of development can be frozen in print, but which continue to grow both around and from that frozen text.

Kingston’s participation in the tradition of talk-story is evidenced in her book China Men, which utilizes forms typical of that genre and common to most oral cultures including: a fixed “grammar” of repetitive themes; a spectrum of stock characters; symmetrical structures, including balanced oppositions (verbal or physical contests, antithetical characters, dialectical discourse such as question-answer forms and riddles); and repetition. In China Men, Kingston also succeeds in investing idiomatic English with the allusive texture and oral-aural qualities of the Chinese language, a language rich in aural and visual puns, making her work a written form of talk-story.
1. Which one of the following most accurately states the main point of the passage?
(A) Despite some critics’ comments, Kingston’s writings have significant Chinese American antecedents, which can be found in the traditional oral narrative form known as talk-story.
(B) Analysis of Kingston’s writings, especially China Men, supports her belief that literary artists can be performers who continue to reconstruct their stories even after they have been frozen in print.
(C) An understanding of Kingston’s work and of Chinese American writers in general reveals that critics of ethnic literatures in the United States have been mistaken in examining only written texts.
(D) Throughout her writings Kingston uses techniques typical of the talk-story genre, especially the retention of certain aspects of Chinese speech in the written English text.
(E) The writings of Kingston have rekindled an interest in talk-story, which dates back to the Sung dynasty, and was extended to the United States with the arrival of Chinese immigrants in the nineteenth century.


[Reveal] Spoiler:
A


2. Which one of the following can be most reasonably inferred from the passage?
(A) In the last few years, written forms of talk-story have appeared in Chinese as often as they have in English.
(B) Until very recently, scholars have held that oral storytelling in Chinese ethnic enclaves was a unique oral tradition.
(C) Talk-story has developed in the United States through a process of combining Chinese, Chinese American, and other oral storytelling forms.
(D) Chinese American talk-story relies upon memory processes that do not emphasize the retention of precise sequences of words.
(E) The connection between certain aspects of Kingston’s work and talk-story is argued by some critics to be rather tenuous and questionable.


[Reveal] Spoiler:
D


3. It can be inferred from the passage that the author uses the phrase “personally remembered stories” (line 32) primarily to refer to
(A) a literary genre of first-person storytelling
(B) a thematically organized personal narrative of one’s own past
(C) partially idiosyncratic memories of narratives
(D) the retention in memory of precise sequences of words
(E) easily identifiable thematic issues in literature


[Reveal] Spoiler:
C


4. In which one of the following is the use of cotton fibers or cotton cloth most analogous to Kingston’s use of the English language as described in lines 51–55 (In China Men, Kingston also succeeds in investing idiomatic English with the allusive texture and oral-aural qualities of the Chinese language, a language rich in aural and visual puns, making her work a written form of talk-story)?
(A) Scraps of plain cotton cloth are used to create a multicolored quilt.
(B) The surface texture of woolen cloth is simulated in a piece of cotton cloth by a special process of weaving.
(C) Because of its texture, cotton cloth is used for a certain type of clothes for which linen is inappropriate.
(D) In making a piece of cloth, cotton fiber is substituted for linen because of the roughly similar texture of the two materials.
(E) Because of their somewhat similar textures, cotton and linen fibers are woven together in a piece of cloth to achieve a savings in price over a pure linen cloth.


[Reveal] Spoiler:
B


5. The passage most clearly suggests that Kingston believes which one of the following about at least some of the stories contained in her writings?
(A) Since they are intimately tied to the nature of the Chinese language, they can be approximated, but not adequately expressed, in English.
(B) They should be thought of primarily as ethnic literature and evaluated accordingly by critics.
(C) They will likely be retold and altered to some extent in the process.
(D) Chinese American history is best chronicled by traditional talk-story.
(E) Their significance and beauty cannot be captured at all in written texts.


[Reveal] Spoiler:
C


6. The author’s argument in the passage would be most weakened if which one of the following were true?
(A) Numerous writers in the United States have been influenced by oral traditions.
(B) Most Chinese American writers’ work is very different from Kingston’s.
(C) Native American storytellers use narrative devices similar to those used in talk-story.
(D) China Men is for the most part atypical of Kingston’s literary works.
(E) Literary critics generally appreciate the authenticity of Kingston’s work.


[Reveal] Spoiler:
D


7. The author’s specific purpose in detailing typical talk-story forms (lines 43–51) [Kingston’s participation in the tradition of talk-story is evidenced in her book China Men, which utilizes forms typical of that genre and common to most oral cultures including: a fixed “grammar” of repetitive themes; a spectrum of stock characters; symmetrical structures, including balanced oppositions (verbal or physical contests, antithetical characters, dialectical discourse such as question-answer forms and riddles); and repetition] is to
(A) show why Kingston’s book China Men establishes her as a major literary figure
(B) support the claim that Kingston’s use of typically oral techniques makes her work a part of the talk-story tradition
(C) dispute the critics’ view that Chinese American literature lacks literary antecedents
(D) argue for Kingston’s view that the literary artist is at best a “privileged keeper” of stories
(E) provide an alternative to certain critics’ view that Kingston’s work should be judged primarily as literature


[Reveal] Spoiler:
B


8. Which one of the following most accurately identifies the attitude shown by the author in the passage toward talk-story?
(A) scholarly appreciation for its longstanding artistic sophistication
(B) mild disappointment that it has not distinguished itself from other oral traditions
(C) tentative approval of its resistance to critical evaluations
(D) clear respect for the diversity of its ancient sources and cultural derivations
(E) open admiration for the way it uses song to express narrative


[Reveal] Spoiler:
A

[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #1 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #2 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #3 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #4 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #5 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #6 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #7 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #8 OA

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Re: With their recognition of Maxine Hong Kingston as a major literary fig [#permalink]

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New post 02 Aug 2017, 14:59
What is the source? LSAT?

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Re: With their recognition of Maxine Hong Kingston as a major literary fig [#permalink]

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New post 03 Aug 2017, 05:09
rma26 wrote:
What is the source? LSAT?


rma26, The source is LSAT.
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"Each stage of the journey is crucial to attaining new heights of knowledge."

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Re: With their recognition of Maxine Hong Kingston as a major literary fig [#permalink]

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New post 03 Aug 2017, 12:30
egmat Can u tell me why 2D is correct here? I have learned from egmat that inference must be from author's own statement. But, here option D is taken from Kingston's statement!

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Re: With their recognition of Maxine Hong Kingston as a major literary fig [#permalink]

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New post 17 Aug 2017, 08:11
One of the toughest passages i have seen on GAMT club
It was very interesting to read but the question were very difficult and the options were similar , adding to the difficulty .
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Re: With their recognition of Maxine Hong Kingston as a major literary fig [#permalink]

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New post 09 Oct 2017, 02:30
This was very tricky and I got lost. Does anyone have a breakdown on how to approach such a passage effectively?
Thanks :)

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Re: With their recognition of Maxine Hong Kingston as a major literary fig   [#permalink] 09 Oct 2017, 02:30
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With their recognition of Maxine Hong Kingston as a major literary fig

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