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Reading Passage

Toward the end of his life, the Chevalier de Seingalt (1725−1798) wrote a long memoir recounting his life and adventures. The Chevalier was a somewhat controversial figure, but since he met many famous people, including kings and writers, his memoir has become a valuable historical source about European
society in the eighteenth century. However, some critics have raised doubts about the accuracy of the memoir. They claim that the Chevalier distorted or invented many events in the memoir to make his life seem more exciting and glamorous than it really was.

For example, in his memoir the Chevalier claims that while living in Switzerland, he was very wealthy, and it is known that he spent a great deal of money there on parties and gambling. However, evidence has recently surfaced that the Chevalier borrowed considerable sums of money from a Swiss merchant. Critics thus argue that if the Chevalier had really been very rich, he would not have needed to borrow money.

Critics are also skeptical about the accuracy of the conversations that the Chevalier records in the memoir between himself and the famous writer Voltaire. No one doubts that the Chevalier and Voltaire met and conversed. However, critics complain that the memoir cannot possibly capture these conversations accurately, because it was written many years after the conversations occurred. Critics point out that it is impossible to remember exact phrases from extended conversations held many years earlier.

Critics have also questioned the memoir’s account of the Chevalier’s escape from a notorious prison in Venice, Italy. He claims to have escaped the Venetian prison by using a piece of metal to make a hole in the ceiling and climbing through the roof. Critics claim that while such a daring escape makes for enjoyable reading, it is more likely that the Chevalier’s jailers were bribed to free him. They point out that the Chevalier had a number of politically well-connected friends in Venice who could have offered a bribe.

My Response

The article claims the Personal experiences written by chevalier de seingalt about his life and adventures by providing three episodes. However the professor says disagree with the authors opinion about the chevalier memoir and provides the reasons.

First, The reading passage claims that When chevalier lived in the Switzerland, he used to spend huge amount on parties and gambling. The critics argued that if he is a wealthy person then why he had borrowed the money from merchants and said he is poor. The professor refutes this point by saying that Chevalier was a rich person in the form of properties and he don’t have liquid cash. So, he used to borrow the money from merchants and paid them back after selling his properties.

Second, the article casts doubt about the conversations between chevalier and voltaire . The critics argued how can chevalier write those conversations exactly which happened many years earlier and point out that it is impossible to remember. However, the professor disagree with this point by saying that the chevalier wrote these conversations which he remembered on every night.The witness of the people has confirmed this that he consulted this notes every day.

Third, the reading says that chevalier escaped from the prison by using a piece of metal to make a hole in the ceiling and climbed the roof. The critics argued that the chevalier must have politically connected friends who helped him to offer bribes to his jailers for escape. The professor opposes this point by saying that there are many more powerful people than chevalier in the prison who can offer bribes to jailers to escape. Even though the evidence confirmed that after the escape of chevalier the ceiling of the floor was repaired.

TOEFL listening discussions: What is the purpose of this meeting?

Hi, your essay was not too bad. You were able to capture most of the points from the lecture, but I don’t think you presented them as clearly as you might have. You need to make it more clear what the memoir said versus what the critics in the reading passage said. Also, make sure you capitalize proper nouns. You also had some difficulty with your verb tenses, although the verb tenses necessary for this kind of subject are indeed quite challenging. Overall, I would rate this a 3.5 out of 5.

merchant loan - wasn’t poor, property you have to sell to get money, needed short term loans

Voltaire - each night he wrote down conversations - for many years, witnesses confirmed

Prison - other prisioners had powerful friends, bribery not likely. Venitian documents - ceiling had to be repaired -

Hi Luschen

Thank u so much for your great help.

Oops, sorry I forgot to erase my notes on the bottom and I messed up in my strikethroughs - it is corrected now.

ya, i got it… Thank you.