0

This question is part of 5 lb. Book of GRE® Practice Problems Verbal Question Directory.

The following is a GRE-style sentence-completion question, where you must fill each blank with a suitable option from the three given.

Crane Brinton argued that the middle phases of revolutions are especially (i) _________ because the unleashed force of social momentum transfers power inexorably from more stable (if oppressive) forces to less temperate ones. Yet, he then goes on to say that the excesses (ii) _________ and a more peaceful period of “Thermidor” ensues.

Blank (i) - (A) brusque (B) berserk (C) pacific

Blank (ii) - (D) metastasize (E) grow (F) recede

Answer: Blank (i) - (B) berserk; Blank (ii) - (F) recede

Can anyone explain me why the correct answer choices are "berserk" and "recede"? I'm having a hard time understanding this question.

Thanks in advance.

0

If it helps, let's rewrite the sentence replacing some possibly difficult words with simpler ones in the context:

First, I'll give definitions of the words I'll be replacing:

temperate
adjective
2.
a. Moderate in degree or quality; restrained.
b. Exercising moderation and self-restraint.
American Heritage Dictionary

inexorably
inexorable
adjective
1. Impossible to stop, alter, or resist; inevitable: an inexorable fate; an inexorable law of nature.
American Heritage Dictionary

The most obscure word here is "Thermidor", it refers to the month in the new calendar adopted in France during the French Revolution. Of particular note is this association:

On 9 Thermidor Year II (27 July 1794), the French politician Maximilien Robespierre was denounced by members of the National Convention as "a tyrant", leading to Robespierre and twenty-one associates including Louis Antoine de Saint-Just being arrested that night and beheaded on the following day.
Thermidorian reaction

Because of the Thermidorian reaction ... the word "Thermidor" has come to mean a retreat from more radical goals and strategies during a revolution, especially when caused by a replacement of leading personalities.
Thermidor

So at the end of the sentence we have "a peaceful period of “Thermidor” ensues", or peaceful period of diminished radicalism or extremism. Really you can throw out the reference to Thermidor, because the word "peaceful" does all the explaining that things settle down into a more peaceful state.

So let's rewrite the sentence with the replacements in brackets:

Crane Brinton argued that the middle phases of revolutions are especially (i) _________ because the unleashed force of social momentum transfers power [unavoidably] from more stable forces to less [restrained] ones.

After the first blank it says essentially that a revolution becomes less restrained. Which of the optional words do you think match "less restrained":

  • (A) brusque (B) berserk (C) pacific

Yet, he then goes on to say that the excesses (ii) _________ and a more peaceful period of [diminished extremism] ensues.

Then the author says that after a previous period of unrest and disturbance the revolution settles into a more peaceful condition.

Which of the following words would you associate most with troublesome times (excesses) going away?

  • (D) metastasize (E) grow (F) recede

Hope that helped.

|improve this answer|||||
2

Berserk is an odd option here. Violent would provide better meaning. (i)Brusque implies a lack of manners. That's a very hoity-toity way of putting it. Pacific is just flat out wrong, it means 'peaceful'. No one stops for picnics in the park in the middle of a revolution. (ii) "more peaceful" implies a calming down, so spreading, metastasizing is out, as is growing. That leaves only recede as viable. Crane Brinton wrote on the French revolution in 1934.

There's been considerable linguistic drift since then. Brinton does not read like a modern American writer.

|improve this answer|||||

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.