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June 2007, Passage 1, Question 3


Question 3. So this is a detail question, according to the passage, there is a widely held view. So we're just looking for something that the passage says. Now, the correct answer might come from a couple of places. We know that in the first paragraph they tell us the things that people in the US typically think about poetry and fiction.

That is to say, that they should be separate. And in the second paragraph towards the end, we are told that in the US, people don't like generalists. So either one of those could be the answer. We'll just see what they give us in the answer choices. So answer choice A, poetry should not involve characters or narratives.

So this is a clever way of rephrasing stuff from the first paragraph. Remember, the current conventional wisdom holds that poetry should be elliptical and lyrical. Whereas, character and narrative events are the stock and trade of fiction. So fiction should do fictiony things, poetry should do poetry things. So there is a belief that poetry should not be doing character and narrative, because that's fiction stuff.

So answer choice A is our answer. Let's glance at the other answers to see why they're wrong. Though, of course, the reason that any wrong answer to a detail question is wrong is that it's not said in the passage. The correct answer to a detail question is always said in the passage. Answer choice B, unlike the writing of poetry, the writing of fiction is rarely an academically serious endeavor.

Well, in the first paragraph, they tell us that fiction and poetry are taught separately, not that one of them is not taken seriously. Answer choice C is basically the same thing as answer choice B. This says graduate writing programs focus on poetry to the exclusion of fiction. We don't know that, we just know that they are taught separately, not that one is taught to the exclusion of the other.

Answer choice D, fiction is most aesthetically effective when it incorporates lyrical elements. So be careful here, this is just taking something the passage said, and making it too extreme. The author does think that Rita Dove's fiction is aesthetically effective when it incorporates lyrical elements.

But they never said that that is the best possible way to do things. It's not necessarily the most effective way, it's just an effective way. And then answer choice E is also a distortion of what the passage said. The passage said that US literary culture is suspicious of generalists. This one says that European ones are. We don't know anything about European cultures in this passage, so E cannot be our answer.

Our answer is A.

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