TLS Crossword 1176 by Talos – May 19, 2017

It helped that I knew both the quotations and that they were longish ones anchoring the puzzle top and bottom.  And with one exception (17d) the literary refrences were more or less within my range.  I had it almost done (with a few guesses and no peeking at Google) between 125th Street and Peekskill which clocks me in at my usual 40ish minute time.  As per usual this time of year, I’ll try to respond to any comments that may have come over the transom by early Friday morning, otherwise I’ll have to wait until Sunday.  Definitions in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.


1.  “Out of the ash / I rise with my red hair / And I –.”  (Sylvia Plath) (3,3,4,3)
EAT MEN LIKE AIR.  From Lady Lazarus.  The poem has the lines – Dying is an art, like everything else / I do it exceptionally well.  I’ve never been quite sure whether “like everything else” applies to “art” or to what she does.
9.  Western ninjitsu is sacrilegious, holds assassin (7)
CASSIUS.  Roman senator and one of Julius Caesar’s killers.  Very well concealed (holds) in [ninjit]SU IS SAC[rilegious] reversed (Western).
10.  Staff turn around state opera about Spanish king (7)
RODRIGO.  ROD=staff.  GO=turn.  Containing (around) RI=state.  By Handel.
11.  Husbandless writer that’s run off with King’s Christine (4)
AUTO.  1980s horror novel by Stephen King about a vintage car (dubbed Christine).  Remove the H (husband) and the R (run) from AUT[h])O[r].
12. Budd’s problem?  Timid men at sea hampering training (10)
IMPEDIMENT.  Anagram (at sea) of TIMID MEN containing (hampering) PE=training.  Billy Budd is Herman Melville’s seaman who had a stutter.
14.  Her mate had the hump about son’s green article (9)
ESMERALDA.  EMERALD=green CONTAINING (about) S=son with A=article.  In The Hunchback Of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, she is switched at birth by the gypsies with Quasimodo the hunchback.  Later in life they meet and he falls in love with her but not she with him and they become friends.  It’s a long story.
16.  Posh party held in empty tower of Wolf Hall house? (5)
TUDOR.  U=posh. DO=party.  Contained in T[owe]R=empty.  Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel features the royal house in the story of Thomas Cromwell.
18. Poet said to have a share of cakes jammed by queen (5)
BURNS.  Robert.  I’m not 100% sure about this but it looks as if BUNS=cakes containing (jammed by) R=queen.  Burns sometimes called Scotland the “land o’ cakes”, but those would be oatcakes, and I’m still not sure what “said” and “share” are doing.
19.  LIke Vanity Fair to transcribe CIA trials? (9)
SATIRICAL.  This would describe the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray.  Anagram (to transcribe) of CIA TRIALS.
21.  Novelist in print cooking radish and corn (10)
RICHARDSON.  Samuel.  Author of Clarissa, Pamela, and Sir Charles Grandison.  He was a printer by profession, and for all I know the novels are still in print, I haven’t read them.
24.  A female accompanied by religious singer (4)
PIAF.  Edith, French chanteuse of La Vie En Rose who regrets nothing.  PI=religious with A F.
26.  When the queen turned on article, then the PM? (7)
THERESA.   THE=article with AS=when and ER=queen reversed (turned).  May, as in PM, and it took me a very long time to see what was going on here.
27.  Ridiculously moronic character of Euripides (7)
OMICRON.  Anagram (riidiculously) of MORONIC.  Greek letter that would be used by the playwright.
28.  “Lolita, –, fire of my loins.  My sin, my soul.”  (Vladimir Nabokov) (5,2,2,4)
LIGHT OF MY LIFE.  He wrote many things but this is the novel he’s remembered for.  As a native Russian speaker who came to the English language as an adult his command of it was remarkable.


1.  Estimator going around Luis Cardoso’s home (4,5)
EAST TIMOR.  Anagram (going around) of ESTIMATOR. The setting for The Crossing, an autobiographical work by Cardoso.
2.  Passage author of The Land Downstairs read aloud (4)
TRIP.  Homophone (read aloud) for Tripp.  In the 1990s  novel Wonder Boys, by Michael Chabon, Grady Tripp is the author of a prize-winning novel by that name.
3.  Collections of hams picked to work well together? (9)
ENSEMBLES.   The hams here are actors.
4.  Fish hooker boxes India for Pulitzer novelist (5)
LURIE.  LURE=hooker containing (boxes) I=India in the Nato alphabet for Alison, the american author.
5.  Jokes about religious type? Meg March has three of them (3,7)
KID SISTERS.  KIDS=jokes containing (ABOUT) SISTER=religious type.  In Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Jo, Beth and Amy are the younger sisters of Meg.
6. Walker going round cold island, tucking into beer (5)
ALICE.  American author.  ALE=beer containing (tucking into) C=cold I=island reversed (going round).
7.  To some, Reuben J. adds nothing to a list of names.
ROOSTER.  O=nothing in ROSTER=list of names.  Reuben (Rooster) Cogburn is the leading character in the novel True Grit, later made into a movie in which he was portrayed by John Wayne.  The best thing I remember about Wayne is a scene from the ho hum movie Birdcage in which Robin Williams tries to get his husband Nathan Lane to act masculine by copying Wayne’s mannerisms.
8.  Cricket club president who knocked the butcher boy out? (6)
MCCABE.  The Butcher Boy is a 1990s novel by Patrick Mccabe.  MCC=cricket club.  ABE=president.
13.  Push a chap and he’ll go to the papers for publicity (5,5)
PRESS AGENT.  PRESS=push.  A GENT=a chap.
15.  No-good culinary art that Trillian must have studied (9)
ASTRONOMY.  Remove the G from “gastronomy” and you have the putative field of study of Trillian Astra from A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
17.  Injured bicep, case for eager Dr. Finlay? (1,1,1,6)
D.B.C. PIERRE.  Nom de plume of prize-winning Australian author Peter Finlay.  Anagram (injured) of BICEP with E[age]R and DR.  This was a guess.
18.  Take property up:  unfinished flat in Ruxton Towers? (7)
BORSTAL.  ROB=take property, reversed (up). With STAL[e]=flat unfinished.  The name of the Essex penal colony in Alan Sillitoe’s The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Runner.  It’s not a leg-pull when I tell you that Ruxton Towers is also the name of an up-market high-rise apartment building on West 72nd Street in Manhattan near Lincoln Center.  Just as The Broadmoor is advertised as a luxury condominium building some blocks higher up the Upper West Side.  I am happy to say that our building has no name, just a street address.
20.  Supporter gripped by French article on United pen (2,4)
LE FANU.  Joseph Sheridan, 19th Century author of spooky stories (the playwright Richard Brinsley was his great-uncle).  LE=French article.  U=united.  Containing FAN=supporter.
22.  A collector of extremely colourful Faberge work? (5)
CLEGG.  Frederick Clegg is the collector (of butterflies) in the story of the same name by John Fowles.  C[olourfu]L (extremely) with EGG=the enamelled and bejewelled eggs created for the Romanovs by Carl Faberge.
23.  Grumpy daughter bitter about about Beowulf’s ending (5)
DWARF.  One of Snow White’s seven companions.  D=daughter.  WAR=bitter reversed (about).  With [Beowul]F (ending).
25.  Gaston’s lover seeing lasses, both half-cut (4)
GIGI.  GI[rl]=lasses, abridged twice.  From the story of the courtesan-in-training by Colette.  In the 1950s Lerner and Leowe movie musical she is played by Leslie Caron and Gaston Lachaise by Louis Jourdain.  Nowadays it’s impossible to watch Maurice Chevalier smirking his way through “Sank heaven for leetle girls” weezzout a shudder.

6 comments on “TLS Crossword 1176 by Talos – May 19, 2017”

  1. Another one I managed to finish.. its becoming a habit, lately.
    Borstals were named after a village not too far from me, near Rochester in Kent, where the first one was established. The village has suffered, rather, in terms of prestige ever since.
    It has *never* been possible to watch or listen to M. Chevalier without a shudder
    1. Thanks Jerry – I didn’t know the origin of “Borstal” and the village inhabitants certainly have a beef. There was an “approved school” near my parents’ Wiltshire village Ashton Keynes when my sisters and I were young teens and occasionally a visiting car would pull into our place by mistake, to be redirected by my father and told that this was the girls’ division. We were not amused.
  2. Not too difficult, having to resort to aids with only about five left (not least 1A, which doesn’t lend itself to being guessed). Held up for a while by putting CASTMATES into 3D, which was on the right lines and temptingly shared some checkers with the correct answer. Surprised to see a fellow McCabe at 8D – I haven’t read “The Butcher Boy” but “The Dead School” by the same author was an unrelentingly miserable read.

    Re 18A, Burns was also known as the Ploughman Poet, which I presume is why there’s a reference to a (plough)share in the clue.

    1. That must be the “share” explanation Mohn, thank you. I missed it.
  3. Rather dawdled over this, not helped by not knowing the unlikely Sylvia Plath quote and making it up from crossers. Came in just under the hour.
    I was a bit thrown by the seemingly random initials adopted by PIERRE, imagining they must mean something such as some sort of policeman, but eventually got it from the anagram, and DR not going with Finlay.
    I rather think Maurice Chevalier might find his computers confiscated and facing public oprobrium if he essayed Sanc ‘eavens for leedle gurls” today. Times change.
    Speaking of which today’s’ TLS seems to have reverted to an old and unwelcome type with online access blocked and the printed version missing a clue at 18d, unless it’s a particularly teasing clue to the emperor’s new clothes. And, of course, I have no way of knowing whether I’ve succeeded. No solvers are listed, yet. A sad foretaste of things to come?
    1. I printed this to do on the train on Friday and managed to leave it behind unfinished thanks to 18d and a couple of others. As duty blogger I was doing some tetchy muttering to self so I’m glad to learn now that this was an unintended omission.

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