Monday, June 20, 2022

Puzzle #178: Break It Up

Gilbert Sorrentino's metafictional masterpiece, Mulligan Stew, includes the following blurb for a fictional book called Harewell M. Dovely by James Patton:

"Historians have traced the crossword puzzle back to the time of the Pharaohs, but never has this most fascinating time-passer been examined so lovingly as in this exhaustive critical biography of the world's greatest puzzle champion and analyst, Harewell M. Dovely. Mr. Patton, who describes himself as 'a great fan but only a duffer,' has, in this mesmerizing life of the nonpareil word genius, deftly incorporated irrestisible historical anecdote into the story of Dovely's career. You will read:

  • how Marie Antoinette worked a crossword puzzle in the tumbril that carried her to her death
  • how Pablo Picasso hit upon the idea for Cubism while doing a crossword puzzle in the Revue des Deux Mondes
  • why The New York Times was responsible for cutting short the brilliant career of Clint Hartung
  • what role the crossword puzzle played at Gettysburgh
And there are literally hundreds of other unknown anecdotes, many of them unearthed from Dovely's journals and notebooks, to which Mr. Patton had complete access.

Included is an appendix which reproduces the dozen greatest puzzles of all time (with their solutions): from the diagramless 'killer' that Socrates worried in his prison cell to the little stumper from Boys' Life that soothed President Hoover just after the Great Crash of '29."

Your intrepid constructor has laboriously tracked down and translated the crossword that inspired Picasso's unprecedented technique of breaking objects up into parts and presenting them from different angles (pdf, puz, pdf solution). In this puzzle, 14 entries are too long for their slots and have to be split into two parts, the second of which will be found elsewhere in the grid. In each case, both parts will be valid crossword entries: for example, CONESTOGA might be split into CONES and TOGA. The first letters of those 14 entries, in grid order, will spell out a phrase that would be a good title for this puzzle (if it wasn't already taken).


  1. Whew! That was an ordeal. I completed the puzzle WITHOUT reading your introductory comments, so I had to figure out what was going on with the theme by myself. I think it was I Repeat which finally clued me into what was going on, but I had it 3/4 filled in by that point! Nice and challenging. Thanks.