CAT 2019 Reading Comprehension Questions with Solutions

In the past, credit for telling the tale of Aladdin has often gone to Antoine Galland . . . the first European translator of . . . Arabian Nights [which] started as a series of translations of an incomplete manuscript of a medieval Arabic story collection. . . But, though those tales were of medieval origin, Aladdin may be a more recent invention. Scholars have not found a manuscript of the story that predates the version published in 1712 by Galland, who wrote in his diary that he first heard the tale from a Syrian storyteller from Aleppo named Hanna Diyab . . .

Despite the fantastical elements of the story, scholars now think the main character may actually be based on a real person’s real experiences. . . . Though Galland never credited Diyab in his published translations of the Arabian Nights stories, Diyab wrote something of his own: a travelogue penned in the mid-18th century. In it, he recalls telling Galland the story of Aladdin [and] describes his own hard-knocks upbringing and the way he marveled at the extravagance of Versailles. The descriptions he uses were very similar to the descriptions of the lavish palace that ended up in Galland’s version of the Aladdin story. [Therefore, author Paulo Lemos] Horta believes that “Aladdin might be the young Arab Maronite from Aleppo, marveling at the jewels and riches of Versailles.” . . .

For 300 years, scholars thought that the rags-to-riches story of Aladdin might have been inspired by the plots of French fairy tales that came out around the same time, or that the story was invented in that 18th century period as a byproduct of French Orientalism, a fascination with stereotypical exotic Middle Eastern luxuries that was prevalent then. The idea that Diyab might have based it on his own life — the experiences of a Middle Eastern man encountering the French, not vice-versa — flips the script. [According to Horta,] “Diyab was ideally placed to embody the overlapping world of East and West, blending the storytelling traditions of his homeland with his youthful observations of the wonder of 18th-century France.” . . .

To the scholars who study the tale, its narrative drama isn’t the only reason storytellers keep finding reason to return to Aladdin. It reflects not only “a history of the French and the Middle East, but also [a story about] Middle Easterners coming to Paris and that speaks to our world today,” as Horta puts it. “The day Diyab told the story of Aladdin to Galland, there were riots due to food shortages during the winter and spring of 1708 to 1709, and Diyab was sensitive to those people in a way that Galland is not. When you read this diary, you see this solidarity among the Arabs who were in Paris at the time. . . . There is little in the writings of Galland that would suggest that he was capable of developing a character like Aladdin with sympathy, but Diyab’s memoir reveals a narrator adept at capturing the distinctive psychology of a young protagonist, as well as recognizing the kinds of injustices and opportunities that can transform the path of any youthful adventurer.”


Question 1:
Which of the following does not contribute to the passage’s claim about the authorship of Aladdin?

  1. The depiction of the affluence of Versailles in Diyab’s travelogue.
  2. The narrative sensibility of Diyab’s travelogue.
  3. The story-line of many French fairy tales of the 18th century.
  4. Galland’s acknowledgment of Diyab in his diary.
Show Answer
OPTION: 3
We have to mark the choice that does not contribute to the passage’s claim about the authorship of Aladdin.

Option 1 does contribute because it confirms that Diyab is the author of the Aladdin

Option 2 too is mentioned in the passage towards the end “…Diyab’s memoir reveals a narrator adept at capturing the distinctive psychology of a young Protagonist…”

Option 4, too, supports the claim that Diyab could well be the author.

Option 3 does not support the claim because ‘the French fairy tales’ evidence has been disputed by the author, and he says that “The idea that Diyab might have based it on his own life — the experiences of a Middle Eastern man encountering the French, not vice-versa — flips the script.“

Which script is getting flipped? The story that Aladdin was inspired by French Fairy tales of the 18th century (read the passage)


Question 2:
The author of the passage is most likely to agree with which of the following explanations for the origins of the story of Aladdin?

  1. Basing it on his own life experiences, Diyab transmitted the story of Aladdin to Galland who included it in Arabian Nights.
  2. Galland received the story of Aladdin from Diyab who, in turn, found it in an incomplete medieval manuscript.
  3. The story of Aladdin has its origins in an undiscovered, incomplete manuscript of a medieval Arabic collection of stories.
  4. Galland derived the story of Aladdin from Diyab’s travelogue in which he recounts his fascination with the wealth of Versailles.
Show Answer
OPTION: 1
This is a very simple question. The main argument of the passage is that Diyab could well be the author of the passage. We have to pick a choice that goes in this direction.

Option 1 attributes the authorship to Diyab, it is the right choice

Option 2 attributes the authorship to some incomplete medieval manuscript. It goes out

Option 3 goes out for the same reason as option 2

Option 4 says that Galland derived the story, ultimately giving the credit of authorship to Galland.


Question 3:
Which of the following is the primary reason for why storytellers are still fascinated by the story of Aladdin?

  1. The story of Aladdin is evidence of the eighteenth century French Orientalist attitude.
  2. The traveller's experience that inspired the tale of Aladdin resonates even today.
  3. The tale of Aladdin documents the history of Europe and Middle East.
  4. The archetype of the rags-to-riches story of Aladdin makes it popular even today.
Show Answer
OPTION: 2
The first few sentences of the last paragraph have the clue to the right answer.

“To the scholars who study the tale, its narrative drama isn’t the only reason storytellers keep finding reason to return to Aladdin. It reflects not only “a history of the French and the Middle

East, but also [a story about] Middle Easterners coming to Paris and that speaks to our world today,” as Horta puts it.”

The archetype rags to riches story… has not featured in the above passage.

By reading the above paragraph, we can indisputably mark option 2 as your choice.


Question 4:
All of the following serve as evidence for the character of Aladdin being based on Hanna Diyab EXCEPT:

  1. Diyab’s cosmopolitanism and cross-cultural experience.
  2. Diyab’s humble origins and class struggles, as recounted in his travelogue.
  3. Diyab’s narration of the original story to Galland.
  4. Diyab’s description of the wealth of Versailles in his travelogue.
Show Answer
OPTION: 3
We have to mark the choice that is not serving as evidence, as it is an except question.

Option 1 serves as evidence (Diyab was ideally placed to embody the overlapping world of East and West, blending the storytelling traditions of his homeland with his youthful observations of the wonder of 18th-century France.”). The youthful observations of the wealth of Versailles refers to his cross-cultural experience. We can also eliminate choice 4 by reading above extract from the passage.

Option 2 can be ruled out because of this extract from the second paragraph: a travelogue penned in the mid-18th century. In it, he recalls telling Galland the story of Aladdin [and] describes his own hard-knocks upbringing…(the hard-knocks upbringing supports that Diyab could well be the author)

Option 3 does not serve as evidence for the character of Aladdin being based on Hanna Diyab, because Diyab could have read or heard the story from somewhere or narrated it to Galland. The fact that he is just narrating the story to Galland does not serve as evidence that Diyab is likely to be real Aladdin.

The other choices do support that.


Question 5:
Which of the following, if true, would invalidate the inversion that the phrase “flips the script” refers to?

  1. Galland acknowledged in the published translations of Arabian Nights that he heard the story of Aladdin from Diyab.
  2. Diyab’s travelogue described the affluence of the French city of Bordeaux, instead of Versailles.
  3. The French fairy tales of the eighteenth century did not have rags-to-riches plot lines like that of the tale of Aladdin.
  4. The description of opulence in Hanna Diyab’s and Antoine Galland’s narratives bore no resemblance to each other.
Show Answer
OPTION: 4
To invalidate the inversion, we have to first understand the inversion. What exactly is ‘flips the script” referring to? Scholars initially thought that Aladdin must have been inspired by 18th century French Fairy tales, but “The idea that Diyab might have based it on his own life — the experiences of a Middle Eastern man encountering the French, not vice-versa — flips the script.“

Here flips the script means changes the opinion that Aladdin was inspired by French Fairy tales. In other words, Aladdin was not inspired by French Fairy tales but that Diyab was the actual author. By invalidating the inversion, the question wants us to not give the credit to Diyab

Option 3 goes out because by pointing out the dissimilarity between Aladdin and French Fairy Tales, it gives the credit to Diyab.

Option 2 does not invalidate because still Diyab has seen the luxury and opulence of France, not necessarily of Versailles.

Option 1 also gives the credit to Diyab, so it is not invalidating the inversion.

Option 4 is the right choice because, if they bore no resemblance, then it disputes the evidence that Diyab ever narrated the story to Galland, as Galland claims in his diary. This would contradict, at least to some extent, the author’s claim that Diyab was the author of the character of Aladdin.


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