EV 1457 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1457

Enigmatic Variations 1457

A Clear Law by Vismut

Setter’s Blog



The title of the puzzle, A CLEAR LAW, is an anagram of AR WALLACE.  Omitted letters give ORANG-UTAN from the title of THE MALAY ARCHIPELAGO by AR Wallace, along with BIRD OF PARADISE; DARWIN was his collaborator and WALLACE’S LINE was the result.

Extract from the Introduction to The Malay Archipelago The Land of the Orang-utan and the Bird of Paradise.

“Alfred Russel Wallace described the eight years he spent exploring the islands of South-East Asia as the ‘central and controlling incident’ of his life. When he went out in 1854, he was an obscure naturalist-collector with limited scientific credentials; when he came back, he was an acclaimed scientist, the co-discoverer, with Charles Darwin, of the theory of evolution by natural selection…”

The theory of evolution was just Darwin wasn’t it? Well no, but I had never heard of A R Wallace until I watched a TV programme, where Bill Bailey followed in his footsteps, called Bill’s Jungle Hero. This programme prompted to me reading this book and it is still, at over 100 years old, a fascinating tale of determination, self-deprecation and discovery.

Although Wallace shared the rather unfortunate habit of so many Victorian explorers, including Darwin, of killing things to study them, (One rather imagines them looking round after a few years and wondering where all the birds, animals and insects have gone) I could only admire his fortitude during these travels while he overcame obstacles of ill health and lack of money. Happily, it is no longer felt necessary to kill so many animals to understand them or to finance such studies. Beautiful creatures like the Orang-utan and Birds of Paradise have other threats to their existence now of course.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the puzzle which has undergone an evolution of its own. This was the first EV I submitted a few years ago when I knew nothing about compiling crosswords. I had no idea what unching was and knew nothing about crossword grammar. I’m grateful that Chris Lancaster, who was the puzzle editor at the time, didn’t just tell me to go away and never come back. It then went through a couple of transformations before finishing up as, what I hope has been, a not too challenging, but informative puzzle.

I hope you enjoyed it.


A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.

9 comments on “EV 1457

  1. Thanks Vismut, it was great fun to solve and it’s lovely when one occasionally finds a shared interest. It would be great to think that a few solvers might read the book.

  2. I enjoyed doing this puzzle very much and learned several new words (as ever, will I remember them?). As part of the solving process, it was interesting to read about A R Wallace and his travels – not something I knew anything about before embarking on this EV crossword. Thanks Vismut for all your work in producing this: it was enough of a challenge for me but completion was certainly worthwhile.

    1. Some people visited Amazon to get the full book title for this one. This made me smile because of course Wallace spent some time visiting the Amazon too.

  3. Thank you, Vismut — pitched perfectly (in combination with The Numpties’ hints) for this new solver, and definitely educational as well as enjoyable.

    And lots of clues to like too, including the offhand lecturer (19a), the reflective song (25a), Maggie’s claim (32a), and the greatest boy (22) — which was so good it overcame my general ufondness of ‘name’ clues, and was my favourite for most of the solve, until I finally parsed the sharp Yankee (7d) and it made me laugh out loud.

  4. We had vaguely heard of Wallace before embarking on the puzzle and now know considerable more about this remarkable man.
    An enjoyable process unpicking all the clues and then answering all the questions.
    Thanks Vismut.

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