Groucho Marx Arthur Sheekman Reading Ielts Answers and Questions

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  • IELTS Reading Yes/No/Not Given
  • IELTS Reading Note Completion
  • IELTS Reading Matching Features

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IELTS Reading Passage – Groucho Marx Arthur Sheekman

Groucho Marx Arthur Sheekman

Groucho Marx successfully dominated all kinds of entertainment in his career in the show business which lasted for over 70 years, gaining great stardom on Broadway, on the vaudeville stage, in movies, on the radio, and television. But, as the writer of seven books, a play, two film screenplays, and over a hundred magazine articles and essays, Groucho silently dominated yet another field, one in which he was just as proud to work as the others. His writing is frequently neglected in assessments of his career, probably due to the quantity and range of his other work.

Many reviewers, including his biographer, wrongly assumed that Groucho used a ghostwriter throughout his literary career. The majority of Hollywood celebrities who have written books had professional authors do the actual writing. Even though Groucho said many times in public that he dislikes ghostwriters, his relationship with Arthur Sheekman makes it hard to believe him. Groucho and Sheekman had a unique literary friendship that spanned many years. They worked together, and each gave the other editorial help. Groucho briefly fronted for Sheekman in the early 1940s when he was struggling to get his work sold. As a result of endorsing somebody’s work, Groucho exposed all of his literary projects to skepticism from critics who flat-out refused to accept that an entertainer could write.

Some of Sheekman’s magazine pieces were published with Groucho’s name on them. This is clear from reading their unedited letters to one another. According to the letters, there are three types of Groucho’s writings from this period: first, those that Groucho wrote entirely on his own without any input from Sheekman. In a letter dated July 1, 1940, Groucho questioned Sheekman, “Did you see that Reader’s Digest’s little piece? On March 17, 1941, he wrote, “My drool is going out in next week’s issue of This Week so cancel your subscription immediately.” It is obvious that Sheekman was not involved in an article that he was asked to find out.

The second and perhaps the largest category of Groucho’s essays from this period is those that he wrote himself and sent to Sheekman for editorial assistance. On July 20, 1940, Groucho wrote, “I’m sending you a copy of the article I wrote.” Another page or so is probably needed to finish it, but our start date [for filming Go West] arrived and I haven’t had the opportunity to complete it. Tell me what you think, but be honest, because any other kind of judgement would be of no help to me. I’m not going to try to influence you by telling you about previous reactions, so tell me the truth for the love of God.’ Shortly after, on October 10, Groucho sent one letter in which he stated: “I received your recommendations on my work – I’m happy you like it if you did – you’re probably right about the opening. ‘I’ll do it again.’ On July 25, Groucho wrote Sheekman a letter. It appears that a financial agreement was made regarding Sheekman’s recommendations in 1942. On the same day, Groucho also wrote: “I’m writing a boring piece on insomnia and I’ll give it to you in a week or so, I hope. I’d appreciate your opinion, proofread — fixing all the glaring illiteracies and, otherwise, do a nice polishing job.”

The remaining essays by Groucho from this period fall into the third category: Sheekman compositions with varying amounts of Groucho input. The level of Groucho’s contributions to the third category of writing ranges from actually proposing the concept and developing an outline to merely rewriting some paragraphs to include his own style in the piece. Groucho wrote on 10 July 1940, I feel you must write another political post about a campaign for This Week or another magazine. I believe you should take advantage of the fact that this is going to be a very popular topic over the next few months. If you write to me, I’ll try to make notes of a few things you may complain about.’ The course of events would presumably continue with Sheekman forwarding an essay to Groucho asking for his review and any necessary rewrites. Groucho wrote on May 29, 1940, ‘Got your piece and read it through.’ Groucho always addressed a work as either “my piece” or “your piece” in his letters to Sheekman. The letter continued with the following: “I think the piece is good… and I’ll send this to him and see if he can sell it.” I’ll just rewrite some of your paragraphs; I didn’t guarantee they’ll be better, but they might seem more like me. Groucho was worried enough about this arrangement to spend the time to at least give the piece a touch of his style.

Groucho didn’t need this entire deal. He paid the money to Sheekman, and his work was published without trouble. The main reason he submitted Sheekman’s work to magazines in his name was to make Sheekman’s work more marketable owing to Groucho’s fame. Sheekman probably wasn’t particularly happy with the arrangement, but the fact that he periodically remained unemployed and occasionally received money due to the use of Groucho’s name couldn’t be changed. So it’s not exactly fair to refer to Sheekman as Groucho’s ghostwriter. A more accurate description of their literary relationship at the time would have been that Groucho sometimes fronted for Sheekman and gave him the services of his literary agent, while each provided editorial advice to the other. The reasons for a few of their collaborative projects not being acknowledged in this way are unexplained, however, Groucho was never shy to credit his collaborators, and he did so in every other case.

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Groucho Marx Arthur Sheekman Reading Questions

Questions 1 – 4

Do the following statements reflect the claims of the writer of Reading Passage? In boxes 1 – 4 on your answer sheet, write
YES if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer
NO if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

  1. Groucho and Sheekman were occasionally in conflict over money.
  2. Groucho sometimes regretted his association with Sheekman.
  3. Groucho’s writing was sometimes better compared to his other media work.
  4. The relationship between Groucho and Sheekman raised doubts regarding his writing skills.

Want to excel in identifying the writer’s views and claims? Click here to explore our in-depth guide on how to accurately determine Yes, No, or Not Given in the IELTS Reading section.

Questions 5 – 8

Complete the notes below.
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in blank spaces 5 – 8 on your answer sheet.

Groucho’s essays in the early 1940s

Category 1Category 2Category 3
Sheekman had (5.) ______Sheekman provided (6.)________most;y (7.)__________
Groucho added (8.)_________

Questions 9 – 13

Look at the following statements (Questions 9-13) and the list of dates of letters sent by Groucho to Sheekman below. Match each statement with the letter it relates to. Write the correct letter A – Q in boxes 9 – 13 on your answer sheet.

  9. Groucho agreed that a portion of an essay needs to be revised.
10. Groucho made reference to his own lack of language usage.
11. Groucho suggested that an essay’s perspective should be negative.
12. Groucho explained why he amended an essay.
13. Groucho attracted Sheekman’s attention to an essay that would be published soon.

List of Letters Sent by Groucho to Sheekman
A.July 10, 1940
B.October 10, 1940
C.July 1, 1940
D.May 29, 1940
E.July 20, 1940
F.March 17, 1941
G.July 25, 1942

Improve your performance in Matching Features questions by clicking here to access our comprehensive guide. Learn how to match specific features or characteristics with the options provided in the IELTS Reading section.

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Groucho Marx Arthur Sheekman Reading Answers

1. No
2. Not Given
3. Not Given
4. Yes
5. no input
6. editorial assistance
7. Sheekman compositions
8. his own style
9. B
10. G
11. A
12. D
13. F


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