Peter Gordon’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Found in Translation”—Laura’s review
This week, we’re told that “the answer to this week’s contest crossword is a language.” Allons-y, mes amis:
[17a: Literally, “novel with a key”]: ROMAN A CLEF. A friend was planning to write a roman à clef about our college days, and we all got to choose our pseudonyms. Mine was Valerie Heisenberg.
[25a: Literally, “red bush”]: ROOIBOS. Celestial Seasonings makes a lovely vanilla rooibos tea.
[36a: Literally, “restructuring”]: PERESTROIKA. I’ve been bingeing The Americans this summer, and the dramatic irony — i.e. knowing that Gorbachev, with his policies of glasnost and perestroika, is right around the corner — is intense. Also the soundtrack is rad.
[50a: Literally, “disk”]: MANDALA. In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, a mandala made of colored sand represents the transitory nature of the material world.
[59a: Literally, “baked earth”]: TERRA COTTA. TIL that earthenware such as terra cotta is any kind of pottery fired below 1200 Celsius, which means that the material does not vitrify (unlike porcelain or stoneware).
Take the languages from which these terms originate, in order of the entries, and you have: French, Afrikaans, Russian, Sanskrit, Italian = FARSI, also known as Persian. Farsi is spoken by over 100 million people worldwide, and is an official language in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.
C’est magnifique, and a lovely entry-level metapuzzle for beginners. Your thoughts?