Listen With Others

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Listener No 4528: Escapee by Dysart

Posted by Dave Hennings on 30 November 2018

As someone pointed out last week, I was a tad premature, so let’s try again. Like three others before him (Schadenfreude, Hedge-sparrow and Chalicea), this was Dysart’s second Listener of the year. The first was a dreadful puzzle A Dreadful Puzzle, all about phobias.

Here we had all but three across clues needing a letter to be replaced before solving, but not in the definition. The first thought that came to mind was, for some reason, Moby Dick. Lots of messages to be revealed here, both in the clue messages and in the grid endgame — none would be about the whale and his protagonist.

As expected with Dysart, the clues were tricky but enjoyable. The messages from the across clues and downs were slow to reveal themselves, especially the downs since they needed unjumbling. Eventually we had “I am the enemy you killed[, my friend]” in the acrosses leading to the Wilfred Owen poem, Strange Meeting, a meeting in Hell, and further clued by the three extra words in the across clues: interestingly unusual encounter. The first line of this poem is “It seemed that out of battle I escaped” and required CONFLICT to be entered as CONFLCT at 1ac.

As for the downs which had a misprint, 29 Team turning to inventor with guest to develop sound recording? (6) initially befuddled me. Did Edison really guess at developing sound recording. Well, of course not — it was a quest to develop it! Thus the misprints read MUAEWIQRER. Given we were in Armistice weekend, the WAR stood out, and REQUIEM soon followed, a masterpiece by Benjamin Britten.

I then indulged in a lot of googling, primarily being sidetracked to various sites for further background reading, and sobering it was. I had seen WRITTEN in one of the diagonals, and it didn’t take long to swap its W for the B in row 8 to give both BRITTEN and OWEN in the final grid. The final step was to identify three of Owen’s poems from Britten’s work. Strange MEETING was obvious in row 5, but ANTHEM FOR Doomed Youth in row 3 and THE NEXT War in the bottom row took a bit more ferreting out.

Thanks for the excellent puzzle, Dysart, and for the tour of Wilfred Owen and Benjamin Britten.
 

Postscript: In the course of my travels, I discovered that the latest copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (8th Edition, 2014) bought a year ago, has reduced the number of Special Categories highlighted in the index from twenty to just eleven. These include Opening Lines, as well as Closing Lines and Last Words. They may well have initially disappeared in earlier editions. The extracts are probably all available in the main index, but I think it’s a shame that the categories have been lost.
 

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