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PURPOSE AND POINT OF VIEW

Drill 2

Read the paragraphs below, and use the accompanying questions to find the primary purpose of each one. Write down your answers.

Passage 1

Few literatures have exerted so profound an influence upon the literary history of other peoples as the poetry of the Provençal troubadours. Attaining the highest point of technical perfection in the last half of the twelfth and the early years of the thirteenth century, Provençal poetry was already popular in Italy and Spain when the Albigeois crusade devastated the south of France and scattered the troubadours abroad or forced them to seek other means of livelihood. The earliest lyric poetry of Italy is Provençal in all but language; almost as much may be said of Portugal and Galicia; Catalonian troubadours continued to write in Provençal until the fourteenth century. The lyric poetry of the “trouvères” in Northern France was deeply influenced both in form and spirit by troubadour poetry, and traces of this influence are perceptible even in early middle-English lyrics. Finally, the German minnesingers knew and appreciated troubadour lyrics, and imitations or even translations of Provençal poems may be found in Heinrich von Morungen, Friedrich von Hausen, and many others. Hence, the poetry of the Provençal troubadours is a subject of first-rate importance to the student of comparative literature.

What is the main topic of the paragraph?

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What does the author say about that topic?

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Why does the author write about that topic?

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Passage 2

The Gallic genius is eminently a social one, but it is, of all others, the most difficult to reproduce. The subtle grace of manner, the magic of spoken words, are gone with the moment. The conversations of two centuries ago are today like champagne which has lost its sparkle. We may recall their tangible forms—the facts, the accessories, the thoughts, even the words, but the flavor is not there. It is the volatile essence of gaiety and wit that especially characterizes French society. It glitters from a thousand facets, it surprises us in a thousand delicate turns of thought, it appears in countless movements and shades of expression. But it refuses to be imprisoned. Hence the impossibility of catching the essential spirit of the salons. We know something of the men and women who frequented them, as they have left many records of themselves. We have numerous pictures of their social life from which we may partially reconstruct it and trace its influence. But the nameless attraction that held for so long a period the most serious men of letters as well as the merry world still eludes us.

What is the main topic of the paragraph?

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What does the author say about that topic?

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Why does the author write about that topic?

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Passage 3

My uncle was a very learned man. Now most persons in this category supply themselves with information, as peddlers do with goods, for the benefit of others, and lay up stores in order to diffuse them abroad for the benefit of society in general. Not so my excellent uncle, Professor Hardwigg; he studied, he consumed the midnight oil, he pored over heavy tomes, and digested huge quartos and folios in order to keep the knowledge acquired to himself.

What is the main topic of the paragraph?

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What does the author say about that topic?

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Why does the author write about that topic?

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Passage 4

Wagner’s music, more than any other, is the sign and symbol of the nineteenth century. The men to whom it was disclosed, and who first sought to refuse, and then accepted it, passionately, without reservations, found in it their truth. It came to their ears as the sound of their own voices. It was the common, the universal tongue. Not alone on Germany, not alone on Europe, but on every quarter of the globe that had developed coal-power civilization, the music of Wagner descended with the formative might of the perfect image. Men of every race and continent knew it to be of themselves as much as was their hereditary and racial music, and went out to it as to their own adventure. And wherever music reappeared, whether under the hand of the Japanese or the semi-African or the Yankee, it seemed to be growing from Wagner as the bright shoots of the fir sprout from the dark ones grown the previous year. A whole world, for a period, came to use his idiom. His dream was recognized during his very lifetime as an integral portion of the consciousness of the entire race.

What is the main topic of the paragraph?

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What does the author say about that topic?

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Why does the author write about that topic?

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Passage 5

“Are we rising again?” “No. On the contrary.” “Are we descending?” “Worse than that, captain! we are falling!” “For Heaven’s sake heave out the ballast!” “There! the last sack is empty!” “Does the balloon rise?” “No!” “I hear a noise like the dashing of waves. The sea is below the car! It cannot be more than 500 feet from us!” “Overboard with every weight! … everything!”

Such were the loud and startling words which resounded through the air, above the vast watery desert of the Pacific, about four o’clock in the evening of the 23rd of March, 1865.

Few can possibly have forgotten the terrible storm from the northeast, in the middle of the equinox of that year. The tempest raged without intermission from the 18th to the 26th of March. Its ravages were terrible in America, Europe, and Asia, covering a distance of eighteen hundred miles, and extending obliquely to the equator from the thirty-fifth north parallel to the fortieth south parallel. Towns were overthrown, forests uprooted, coasts devastated by the mountains of water which were precipitated on them, vessels cast on the shore, which the published accounts numbered by hundreds, whole districts leveled by waterspouts which destroyed everything they passed over, several thousand people crushed on land or drowned at sea; such were the traces of its fury, left by this devastating tempest. It surpassed in disasters those which so frightfully ravaged Havana and Guadalupe, one on the 25th of October, 1810, the other on the 26th of July, 1825.

But while so many catastrophes were taking place on land and at sea, a drama not less exciting was being enacted in the agitated air.

In fact, a balloon, as a ball might be carried on the summit of a waterspout, had been taken into the circling movement of a column of air and had traversed space at the rate of ninety miles an hour, turning round and round as if seized by some aerial maelstrom.

Beneath the lower point of the balloon swung a car, containing five passengers, scarcely visible in the midst of the thick vapor mingled with spray which hung over the surface of the ocean.

Whence, it may be asked, had come that plaything of the tempest? From what part of the world did it rise? It surely could not have started during the storm. But the storm had raged five days already, and the first symptoms were manifested on the 18th. It cannot be doubted that the balloon came from a great distance, for it could not have traveled less than two thousand miles in twenty-four hours.

5. The primary purpose of the third paragraph is to

a)    describe the damage that the storm caused in Havana and Guadeloupe

b)    discuss a series of incidents that occurred in a hot air balloon

c)    set up a comparison between events occurring on land and at sea and in the air

d)    trace the cause of a storm that killed several thousand people and uprooted forests