TLS Crossword 1169 by Praxiteles – March 31, 2017: Letters from a Citizen of the World

A fun puzzle that made me feel suitably erudite throughout with its copious references to all sorts of interesting things long archived away in the dusty attics of the mind. There are a number of clues that I can’t say I’m 100% sure I fully fathomed, but all the more for us to talk about tomorrow, then, eh? In the meantime, must dash, I’ve my regular puzzle to blog yet! Many thanks to Praxiteles for the continuing re-education!


1 Eleanor admits yen for a dangerous 4 (5)
BYRON – Eleanor BRON (English actress, b. 1938) admits Y [yen]. The poet Lord Byron was of course “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. Ashamed to say I only really know Eleanor Bron from her two Doctor Who appearances.

4 He’ll produce villanelles initially, whenever that’s right, without signs of hesitation (9)
VERSIFIER – V{illanelles}, IF I.E. R [whenever | that’s | right], without ERS [signs of hesitation]; semi-&lit

9 Switched on, start to play “Taxman” (9)
ACTIVATED – ACT I [start to play] + V.A.T. ED [tax | man]

10 Article in alternative setting, like H P Lovecraft’s gods (5)
OTHER – THE [article] in OR [alternative] setting. I’d have thought the Lovecraftian deities were typically more OUTER than OTHER, but looking it up I see he did write a short story called “The Other Gods”…

11 Scene of assassination of King followed by Oliver (5)
KNOLL – K [king] followed by NOLL [a nickname for Oliver]. The grassy knoll from which JFK was (maybe) shot.

12 How mean one little conservative’s counterpart is, according to Private Willis (9)
ILLIBERAL – “one little conservative’s counterpart” is I L LIBERAL [one | little | liberal]: in Iolanthe, Private Willis sings:
Nature always does contrive – Fal lal la!
That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative!

13 Surpassed unfashionable 4, we hear (7)
OUTDONE – OUT [unfashionable] + homophone of DONNE.

15 In one of which Olivia found love (7)
SCHOOLS – Not sure if this is a reference to Olivia Manning’s novel “School for Love”? I’m afraid to say I bunged this in after ruling out SHADOWS, assuming it was a Twelfth Night reference… but if it is, it’s gone over my head!

18 Mar true representation? It might (7)
ERRATUM – (MAR TRUE*) [“representation”], semi-&lit

20 One with a particular advantage over Meursault? (7)
INSIDER – Meursault being Camus’s Outsider.

21 What Hatter had on top of table, consuming seconds about start of hour (3,6)
TEA THINGS – T{able} + EATING S [consuming | seconds] about H{our}

23 Where generals might be having a term of imprisonment (5)
OFLAG – a not-very-cryptic cryptic definition? Or perhaps “of imprisonment” is cluing OF LAG? Reader, I biffed it.

25 Nine to one on “King of the Lapiths” (5)
IXION – IX [nine] to I ON [one | on]. Better known for being bound to a fiery wheel for eternity than for being any kind of wise and just monarch to the Lapiths.

26 Are insolent possibly, cracking up at these (3-6)
ONE-LINERS – reverse anagram, since if you “crack up” AT ONE LINERS, you get ARE INSOLENT.

27 One who might depict Tristan almost mad with agitation? (9)
DRAMATIST – (TRISTA{n} MAD*) [“with agitation”], &lit, though I’m not sure if it refers to any play in particular, perhaps an Arthurian film or TV show?

28 A little assassin in Japan (5)
NINJA – hidden &littishly in {assassi}N IN JA{pan}, and becoming something of a chestnut!


1 He described an Exmoor romance as dark and something else besides (9)
BLACKMORE – BLACK [dark] + MORE [something else besides]. Richard Doddridge Blackmore, author of Lorna Doone, which I remember well from the bookshelves of my youth but doesn’t seem to be around much any more.

2 “… passion acts upon the human mind in a — compounded of the acuteness of sense and constitutional heat” (Tobias Smollett) (5)

3 It’s blooming Weller at last, valet now getting replaced (9)
NAVELWORT – ({welle}R + VALET NOW*) [“getting replaced”]. Sam Weller was Mr Pickwick’s valet in the eponymous novel, of course.

4 Invite caller finally round to see “The Glass Menagerie” here (7)
VITRINE – (INVITE {calle}R*) [“round”]. A vitrine is a glass display case, in which you might well keep a glass menagerie a la the one in the Tennessee Williams play.

5 Thrashes Copperfield’s friend, taking one’s time (7)
RADDLES – David Copperfield’s best friend Tommy TRADDLES – take away his T.

6 To put a girdle round about the earth in quatrain or ballad (5)
INORB – hidden in {quatra}IN OR B{allad}; a poetic clue to describe a poetic word.

7 “Cameraman” is to go courting in lady’s department (9)
ISHERWOOD – IS + WOO [to go courting] in HER D [lady’s | department]. “I Am A Camera” is a play based on Isherwood’s “Goodbye to Berlin”?

8 Capek’s play set on a lake in the country (5)
RURAL – R.U.R. [Capek’s play] set on A L. R.U.R. is very well known to all sci-fi nerds as being the literary work which introduced the word “robot” to the world.

14 Triplets found in an inferno (5,4)
TERZA RIMA – cryptic def. The rhyme scheme of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno.

16 Such as Ban Zhao is to start to record what’s current in her dynasty (9)
HISTORIAN – IS TO R{ecord} + I [current] in HAN [Ban Zhao’s dynasty]. The first known Chinese female historian, in the first century.

17 Home perhaps of Prince of Aragon, a fool or a stupid leader turning up to retain silver (9)
SARAGOSSA – ASS [fool] OR A S{tupid} “turning up”, and “retaining” AG [silver]

19 Chap, Italian, with unknown number of novels originally included (7)
MANZONI MAN I [chap | Italian], including Z [unknown] + O{f} N{overs}, &lit. Great Italian writer of the early 19th century.

20 Look into the case? Morse has no alternative (7)
INSPECT – INSPECTOR, losing its OR [alternative].

21 Fielding may be a bit deep for this man (5)
THIRD – I think this is a sports-related cryptic definition, something to do with cricket. In the TLS? Heavens to Betsy! Pretty good Henry Fielding mislead though, either way.

22 Dye used by Montgomery’s laid-back girl on part of hair (5)
HENNA – reversed ANNE on H{air}. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables”, that is.

24 “They regularly retire every year at proper intervals to — of the spleen” (Oliver Goldsmith) (3,2)

4 comments on “TLS Crossword 1169 by Praxiteles – March 31, 2017: Letters from a Citizen of the World”

  1. Definitely one on the quicker side, with lots of generous wordplay to guide you round the unknown/less well known references.
    My memory of Eleanor Bron in TW3 turns out to be mistaken, but she was in “Not so Much a Programme, More a Way of Life”, and allegedly inspired Eleanor Rigby.
    1. It would be nice to think that she might have been Charles Bronson’s mother, but I expect that’s not actually supportable.
  2. I found this hard, as ever with a TLS puzzle, lots of stuff right at the limits of my knowledge and lots more stuff outside those limits. So thanks for all the explanations in the blog. Lots of guesswork needed, some of it educated, some of it not so much. Had to look up 23ac, 5dn, 16dn and 24dn. No doubt I would have needed to look up a few more had those answers not then yielded a few helpful checkers to get going again. I also thought 15ac was a reference to Twelfth Night but I think I may have been confusing the plot with The Taming of the Shrew where the sister is wooed by a Latin tutor and a music tutor. COD to 14dn. Thanks setter and blogger.

    Edited at 2017-04-22 02:18 pm (UTC)

  3. This one was pretty much within my ken but I had a brain freeze (brought on by the apparent cricket reference) with the THIRD man. I remember Eleanor Bron from Help, but I think I also saw her in Day In The Death Of Joe Egg at the Bristol Old Vic eons ago – although I couldn’t swear to it. I only know Olivia Manning’s Balkan and Levant stuff but I’d heard of School For Love – probably from a book jacket. Sorry to be so late to the fair but the w/e was busy. 34.25

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