Preparing From Benet's and Masterpieces of World Literature

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jij03
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Preparing From Benet's and Masterpieces of World Literature

Post by jij03 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:10 pm

Hi folks,

I have access to a copy of both of the titles above. How would one study from these? And if you've used these, how did you do it? thanks
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Re: Preparing From Benet's and Masterpieces of World Literature

Post by Ike » Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:44 am

Speaking as an old person here who purchased Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia in 2006 --

It's not the most efficient study source. The breadth is great, but a lot of the topics are pretty arcane, even for ACF Nats and CO difficulty (not to mention, it hasn't been updated or a while, so it doesn't touch upon literature in the last 20-30 years at all). As for its depth, it is somewhat lacking -- if you are trying to understand say the output of T.S. Eliot from his entry in Benet's, you'll find the entries underwhelming. That being said, many of its entries are interesting in a "oh, I didn't know that existed" kind of way, which causes me to usually look up the entry on the Internet elsewhere. So my advice is to not use it as a primary study tool, but keep it since it has some value if you're an intellectually curious person -- once you have a better grasp of the QB literature canon, it can be fun to thumb through and fill in some of the missing pieces.

As for Masterplots, I find the entries too cut and dry to be entertaining, so I find it difficult to read the entries en masse. The entries are on the whole pretty thorough, and they often hit on juicy plot clues. Up until 2010, many writers wrote lit questions solely from Masterplots and nothing else, since it was possible to do so.
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Re: Preparing From Benet's and Masterpieces of World Literature

Post by jij03 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:32 pm

Eh. At least i've got heavy things to work out with at home.
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Re: Preparing From Benet's and Masterpieces of World Literature

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:59 pm

Benet's was considered an invaluable tool in the primordial era of the '90s (at least in the South, among folks I knew). I think it can be very helpful for young players to jump around using the bolded entries within other entries (indicating an article on that term/name/title)--kind of a paper Wikipedia rabbit hole. That can help one draw connections and follow ideas.Of course, Ike's right that the entries, especially on major canon figures in QB, won't be deep enough, but they're a start when one is just learning about literature.
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Re: Preparing From Benet's and Masterpieces of World Literature

Post by jij03 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:28 am

ValenciaQBowl wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:59 pm
kind of a paper Wikipedia rabbit hole. but they're a start when one is just learning about literature.
Understood. Thanks for the advice!
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Re: Preparing From Benet's and Masterpieces of World Literature

Post by Banana Stand » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:57 am

I bought a set of Masterplots for my house so I know a bit about the encyclopedia grind. My best piece of advice is to be the most thorough on the outer portions of the canon, and to largely ignore the most important works in the canon. Studying Great Expectations or Moby Dick from these books won’t do much for you; you’ll mostly see character names and plot points that you’ve seen in tossups 100 times because the summaries just can’t go that deep, compared to an online summary of the same work. On the other hand, more obscure works will not have as many clues exhausted so are much more efficient to study. This could be tertiary works of famous authors, or famous works of authors that aren’t asked about as much. For example, I’ve powered tossups on Tolstoy’s Cossacks and Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend at ICT just based off of going over MPlots summaries of them and then writing a tossup. Studying these works will help you scale better at any difficulty. The bulk of your knowledge base will still have to come from reading and deeper summaries, though, but these encyclopedias are very good supplements. Good luck on the grind
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Re: Preparing From Benet's and Masterpieces of World Literature

Post by Jangar » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:10 pm

I currently am borrowing a copy of Benet's Encyclopedia, and I'll usually look for particular works/authors that I've heard of in practice or matches that I don't know too much about. This helps particularly with more obscure stuff, so you have just enough background that if a work or author comes up in a bonus part you can pull the name.

I'll also look at random entries (i.e things I haven't heard come up before), but less frequently than others. The ratio is probably about five heard-of works to one unheard-of.

In general, though, Benet's works better for higher levels of quizbowl. As Ike mentioned, a good deal of the content within it is pretty esoteric, even for higher level college or open tournaments, so I wouldn't try to memorize the whole thing or anything like that unless you're trying to become Jonathan Magin or something.
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Re: Preparing From Benet's and Masterpieces of World Literature

Post by jij03 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:01 am

I Need to clarify that I am speaking of Masterpieces of World Literature and not Masterplots (although i have access to a set)
Aidan "Hàn" McWilliams
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