The latest biography on J. R. Oppenheimer, in attempting to dispel the pervasive notion that he was a(n) ____________, only ____________ such a view: seemingly every one of Oppenheimer’s quirks is related with gleeful fondness.
The latest biography
If a sentence talks about someone’s biography, that almost always means we’ll be discussing what the person is like. That’s what’s happening in this case — we’re reading about Oppenheimer and his “quirks.” But more important, we’re reading about how those quirks are “related” (which means, in this context, “discussed” or “presented”) in the biography.
What Do We Know About Oppenheimer?
The following is the most important part of the sentence; it tells us something about Oppenheimer:
seemingly every one of Oppenheimer’s quirks is related with gleeful fondness
Let's first simplify some of the words here.
“Seemingly” means “apparently”.
A “quirk” is a strange or funny thing about someone, which makes them different or unusual.
“Related,” as noted above, means “discussed” or “presented as information.”
“Gleeful” means happy.
“Fondness” shows appreciation of something.
So this phrase is saying the following:
It seems like all of the little strange things about Oppenheimer are written about in a positive way.
This indicates that the author thinks favorably about Oppenheimer, and also that he (Oppenheimer) was a little bit strange.
What Do We Know About the Biography?
The latest biography on J. R. Oppenheimer, in attempting to dispel the pervasive notion that he was a(n) ____________, only ____________ such a view:
A key term here is “only,” which means “merely” or “simply.” This serves as a shifter because it is paired with “in attempting to…” We have: X attempted to do Y, but only/merely/simply did Z.
So the word “only” shows us that what was being attempted did not succeed. In this case, that refers to the biography. So the biography did not achieve its goal.
The latest biography on J. R. Oppenheimer, in attempting to dispel the pervasive notion that he was a(n) _________, only _________ such a view: seemingly every one of Oppenheimer’s quirks is related with gleeful fondness.
So we have a goal that is set up: attempting to dispel a notion. And then we have “only,” which means something like “merely”: the book only does X. The implication is that it does not achieve the goal.
So if it didn't “dispel” the view, it must have somehow allowed the view to continue (or worse, actually supported the view). And what is the view? That’s the part about Oppenheimer — he is a person with “quirks.” And the book, instead of dispelling that idea (that Oppenheimer is a person with “quirks”), related them (presented them) with “gleeful fondness.”
The First Blank
We want a word for the first blank that explains what Oppenheimer was like. Our word should match up with “quirks.” As noted above, a “quirk” is a strange or funny thing about someone, which makes them different or unusual.
***Commonly Missed Answer Alert***
(A) egomaniac — This is a bit of a trap answer. Keep in mind what we know about Oppenheimer: he has “quirks.” That means he is a bit strange. If someone is an egomaniac, that means they think they are very important, or that they have an inflated sense of their own importance. Egomaniacs can have quirks, yes — but having quirks does not make you an egomaniac.
For this answer to be correct, we would need more context about Oppenheimer, and specifically some information that tells us that he thinks he is obsessed with his own importance. The sentence does not provide that context, so we can’t choose this.
(B) eccentric — An eccentric person is an “odd” or “strange” person. Eccentrics deviate from the norm. They are not normal in their behavior. We might say that they have “quirks” in their personalities. This makes sense: the biography intends to explain that Oppenheimer is not an eccentric, but it is not successful because it “gleefully” talks about all of his quirks. (B) is perfect.
(C) reactionary — We don’t have support for this. Again, all we know is that Oppenheimer was a strange person. We don’t have any support for the idea that he was a person who strongly reacted to or pushed back on the status quo, which is what a “reactionary” would do.
The Second Blank
So, if the biography intended to dispel the idea that Oppenheimer was an eccentric, but ended up reinforcing that idea, what would we say the biography did?
The biography meant to say Oppenheimer was NOT eccentric, but instead reiterated that he is, indeed, a person full of quirks. Therefore, the biography reinforces the idea that he is an eccentric. So we want a word that means something like “reinforces.”
(D) overturns — We know the book did NOT do this. If it overturned the idea, then the book would not have talked about all of his quirks so gleefully. This is the opposite of what we want.
(E) perpetuates — This is perfect. To perpetuate something is to “prolong the existence of; cause to be remembered.” That’s exactly what the biography does: it reiterates or reinforces the idea that Oppenheimer is an eccentric, even though its intention was to dispel this idea. (E) is correct.
(F) invalidates — This is similar in meaning to “overturns.” To invalidate something is to mark it as false or untrue. This was the book’s intention (to invalidate this notion about Oppenheimer)… but it failed to accomplish its goal.
1. Words like “only” can have multiple meanings. It’s important to remember that one of its meanings is “merely,” which is often used to emphasize that something was not successful, or was less than expected.
2. When a question is talking about a person, look for descriptions of that person. Sometimes they are included elsewhere in the sentence, but the way the person is described is guaranteed to be important in filling in at least one of the blanks.
Watch the lessons below for more detailed explanations of the concepts tested in this question. And don't worry, you'll be able to return to this answer from the lesson page.