TLS Crossword 1152 by Talos – November 25, 2016: Alans, Poor Yorick

Given that I blog every sixth TLS puzzle, and given that there are four TLS setters working in rotation, it probably makes sense that I would see the same names a lot. And I’m definitely not complaining, because I think Talos has really nailed the art of the stunningly erudite, yet completely accessible and solvable, literary crossword. Yes, you might need to look up PHOCUS and DORCAS, HOLLO and HUSS before being completely sure you’ve grasped every reference, but by and large a smattering of Shakespeare, a dab of Dickens and some basic curiosity about what’s been going on in the windows of bookshops for the past few decades should be enough to see you through. I really liked the construction of 15ac and special props to 6dn for looking like you might need to dredge up some long-forgotten information about the events of Peter Pan, when in fact it’s just a very normal straightforward cryptic clue.

Thanks once again, Talos!


1 Victim of Telamon people heard from across the pond? (6)
PHOCUS – homonym of FOLK [people “heard”] + U.S. [from across the pond]
Telamon, envious of his athletic prowess, killed Phocus by the medium of a discus to the head.

5 Greek character held back by Mark Braddock? (8)
GRADUATE – TAU [Greek character] reversed inside GRADE [mark]
Benjamin Braddock is the eponymous Graduate in the 1967 film based on the 1963 novel.

9 A network type likely to caution Sopranos writer (4,6)
ALAN WARNER – A L.A.N. WARNER [a | network | type likely to caution]
Scottish author of The Sopranos and the better-known-by-my Morvern Callar.

10 Job as a Wells headmaster, or as a reformer (4)
HUSS – double def
Job Huss is the schoolmasterly protagonist of H.G. Wells’ “The Undying Fire”. John Huss was an early Church reformer in the Luther/Calvin mould.

11 Writer Auden ignored for Time Lord role, they say! (8)
DOCTOROW – DOCTOR WHO is the Time Lord role, subtract W.H. (Auden), and find a homonym of DOCTOR O
American author E.L. Doctorow, or possibly Canadian Cory (no relation), you never know.

12 Candleford postmistress and counter staff docked money (6)
DORCAS – reverse of ROD [“counter” staff] + CAS{h} [“docked” money]
Dorcas Lane is the postmistress in Flora Thompson’s “Lark Rise to Candleford”.

13 German novelist who sounds a geezer (4)
MANN – homophone of MAN [“sounds a” geezer]
Thomas Mann, author of “Death in Venice” etc.

15 One tapping mobile veteran holds in hospital (3,5)
THE RAVEN – (VETERAN*) [“mobile”] holds in H [hospital]
“Suddenly there came a tapping” upon a midnight dreary in Poe’s poem.

18 Type of elder to put endless value on Hamlet? (8)
DANEWORT – put WORT{h} [“endless” value] on DANE [Hamlet]

19 Slogan alienating foremost American quilt-maker? (4)
OTTO – {m}OTTO [slogan “alienating foremost”]
Whitney Otto wrote “How To Make An American Quilt”.

21 “Like to good angels, nothing can —: / ’Tis less grief to be foul, than to have been fair” (The Anagram, John Donne) (6)

23 One very tight nurse caught in gusty breeze (8)
EBENEZER – E.N. [(enrolled) nurse] caught in (BREEZE*) [“gusty”]
The miserly Scrooge from “A Christmas Carol”.

25 Jester avoiding outskirts of Icelandic city (4)
YORK – YOR{ic}K [Hamlet’s “fellow of infinite jest”, minus I{celandi}C]

26 Book something seen in a cosmetic dentist’s brochure? (5,5)
WHITE TEETH – straightforward double def.
The 2000 novel from the pen of Zadie Smith.

27 Neologism describing Liberal America? (3,5)
NEW WORLD – NEW WORD [neologism] describing L [Liberal]

28 Unknown soldier working at front for a general (6)
ANTONY – Y [unknown], ANT ON [soldier | working] “at front”
Mark Antony, Roman general, habitue of more than one Shakespeare play


2 Finnish poet deeply set on leaving wife (5)
HOLLO – HOLLO{w} [deeply set, minus [“on leaving”] W for wife]
Anselm Hollo, seems to have been some kind of Finnish beat poet.

3 She loved Oliver and Fagin’s position on things? (9)
CONSTANCE – Fagin is a CON and his position on things a STANCE
Constance Chatterley <3 Oliver Mellors.

4 “The — welkin cover thou anon / With drooping fog as black as Acheron” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) (6)

5 Reconstruction work? We do it when night falls (4,4,3,4)
“Reconstruction” as in the period of rebuilding the USA after the Civil War.

6 I make short work of Darling’s fringe in Barrie novel (8)
ABRIDGER – D{arlin}G in (BARRIE*) [“novel”]

7 Legendary king German theologian doffs cap for? (5)
UTHER – {l}UTHER [German theologian “doffing cap”]
Arthur Pendragon’s dad.

8 Grisham’s novel account sending up vacuous thickie (9)
TESTAMENT – STATEMENT, “sending up” T{hicki}E (from the middle to the beginning)
1999 thriller by “America’s favourite storyteller”.

14 A way guards tie up a graphic novelist (4,5)
ALAN MOORE – A LANE [way] “guards” MOOR [tie up]
Impressively bearded author of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, et al.

16 A shade tense, having taking on soldiers in wartime work? (9)
ATONEMENT – A TONE T [a | shade | tense] taking on MEN [soldiers]
Ian McEwan’s novel, some of which takes place during WW2.

17 A tiny thief returned to do over one pulling blade? (8)
BORROWER – reverse of ROB [“returned” to do over] + ROWER [one pulling blade]
One of the little people in Mary Norton’s 1952 children’s fantasy.

20 One who launched ships with a lover of Demetrius (6)
HELENA – HELEN [the face that launched a thousand ships] with A
Helena one of the lovers in the Bard’s MND.

22 Lopsided, like some gardens Woolf cultivated? (5)
Kew Gardens is a short story by Virginia Woolf.

24 Popcorn writer found in hotel to nibble (5)
ELTON – hidden in {hot}EL TO N{ibble}
Ben Elton the Blackadder scribe and author of 1996’s prizewinning novel Popcorn.

6 comments on “TLS Crossword 1152 by Talos – November 25, 2016: Alans, Poor Yorick”

  1. This was indeed another fine crossword. Oddly enough, the one that gave me most trouble was UTHER, probably because I know of more German theologians than anyone should and tried to fit any number of them in.
    I liked Talos’ diversions, not least the Barrie one, and the Constance? I thought her name was Nancy one. Can’t claim to have known HOLLO, but the wordplay was on the St Nick side of generous.
    John Donne’s The Anagram is a fabulous read, much better than Shakespeare’s similarly inclined “My mistress eyes are nothing like the sun” – he goes all gooey at the end.
  2. Excellent, indeed. A 36-minute solve, putting it on the easy side for me, despite a number of unknowns. In most of those cases the wordplay was so clear there was little doubt. Only exception for me was HUSS, where I didn’t know either reference and had to guess the vowel.

    I loved THE RAVEN clue, too, even though it came straight to mind from the def., which is weird because I’ve never read Poe — most of what I know of him comes from the Alan Parsons Project concept album someone gave me on vinyl when I was about 16 years old. I keep meaning to actually read some.

    Thank you for filling in the many blanks, Verlaine. I feel 8% cleverer than I did before I read your blog.

  3. Not my turn to blog so I skipped over quite a few of the references at the time and looked them up later. For whatever reason I found GRADUATE the most appealing, but the whole puzzle was clever. And it’s always a pleasure to be able to solve without props. Thanks for sorting out DOCTOROW V, I never quite did. I see it took me 43.23 which is a nice work-out and about my par for the course.
  4. The thing I liked about this one was that I managed to solve it on the train in about half an hour without needing to resort to Google or Wikipedia. The ones I didn’t know were easily gettable from wordplay – and as luck would have it there weren’t very many of them either. Unlike this weeks Broteas, which I only got about half way through before looking stuff up!

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