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GRE Article of the Month – March 2016

Every week at work, a bunch of us spend one lunch discussing a preselected piece of writing. We’ve read essays, short stories, poetry and just about anything that might provide an hour of heady conversation. This previous week we read a series of interconnected pieces that had it all: a there-in-the-moment experience, a nasty literary takedown, a cerebral yet heartfelt rejoinder, and a welter of intellectual allusions—many of which you don’t really have to know to be engaged in the piece—all making for a polemical slugfest in which it’s hard for the reader not to take sides.

Reading three interconnected pieces was unprecedented for our little klatch, and so maybe I’ve been inspired to do something unprecedented for Vocabulary Wednesday: choose something that was written before some of you were even in grade school. But the question—what is the role of the novel and the novelists—resonates every much today as it did sixteen years ago and as it is sure to do years from now.


Jay McInerney











James Wood









Zadie Smith







derive from









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6 Responses to GRE Article of the Month – March 2016

  1. Sachin October 9, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Hey Chris,
    Kudos on filtering such amazing articles for students thus saving us the time to do this ourselves. I have my exam in about a month and I have been diligently doing the word lists but am still not big on reading magazine articles on a daily basis. How much should I be devouring daily to get a great score on verbal.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 9, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

      Hi Sachin,

      It’s great to hear that you are enjoying our blog and Chris’s resources 🙂 I’ll pass on your regards.

      We generally recommend that students read at least 30-60 minutes per day. You might start with 30 and work your way up! This might mean reading just one article, or perhaps up to 2-3 articles per day! The more you read, the more you will see your reading comprehension, vocabulary and critical thinking skills improve! The skills you need on the verbal section are ‘big picture’ and take time and effort to improve, but you should see some nice improvement if you have a consistent reading practice over the next month 🙂

      Reading can also help in other important ways! One of the most effective ways to learn vocabulary is in context, so check out this blog post on how to use this reading practice to improve your vocabulary:

      And always make sure that you are reading actively! See this blog post for more information:

  2. Ankur May 28, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

    Thank you Chris,
    Paragraph 7: Zadie Smith

    How this “dialectical devilry” is connected in given context ?As I know that “Dialectical” means discussing opposing ideas in order to find truth and ” devilry” means wicked activity.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 19, 2016 at 9:44 am #

      Hi Ankur 🙂

      Smith is making a reference to Wood’s use of the phrase “dialectical devilry” in the latter’s article, “Tell me how does it feel?” also included in this post 🙂 In this article, Wood writes,

      “The DeLilloan idea of the novelist as a kind of Frankfurt School entertainer – a cultural theorist, fighting the culture with dialectical devilry – has been woefully influential, and will take some time to die.”

      Wood uses the term to describe the DeLilloan point of view of novelists as they confront society or culture. The novels are skillfully crafted and critique society in a way that could be considered mischievous or related to devilry. This idea is echoed in Smith’s work, in the sentence after the author’s reference to “dialectical devilry”:

      “These books are works of high artifice, and there isn’t a decent novel in this world that isn’t; their humanity derives from their reverence for language, their precision, their intellect and, more than anything, from their humour.”

      Again, the novels Smith refers to skillfully critique society in a similar manner as the books Wood refers to in his article.

      I hope this helps you better understand the context of the phrase in Smith’s piece 🙂

  3. Jafrina Jabin March 22, 2016 at 9:55 am #

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful articles.

    I have read the article “Brightness falls”.

    But having difficulty in some lines.

    In 9th paragraph- “Everybody grim but strangely polite”
    what does actually ”grim” mean here?

    in 10th paragraph- “The procession was grim but orderly”
    what does actually ”grim” mean here?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 22, 2016 at 10:28 am #

      Hi Jafrina,

      In both of these sentences, “grim” means, essentially, “mirthless.”

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