Persuasion falls into a fairly small class of what I think of as joke puzzles. The actual gimmick itself is relatively trivial, but the set-up of the puzzle is essentially a single joke.
I was interested to note that the blogger on fifteensquared mentioned locating the quote in a Terry Pratchett novel. So did I, and the original idea involved another layer – to identify the quote as coming from an English novel, call the puzzle Persuasion, and give the Janeites a shock. But a little research showed that the Latin quote was more pervasive than that, and I couldn’t even rely on it being from a specific English novel. But the idea of having the spherical theme emerge without ever quite specifying it was too good to pass up.
The other feature of the puzzle was to think how to introduce the rather lengthy English version of the quote. There were more letters in the quote than there were entries in the grid. Eventually I recalled a long-ago Listener puzzle by Virgilius (I think it was) where the grid was presented with rows and columns lettered, and each clue contained a redundant reference to a pair of letters which identified the square in the grid where the answer started. Nothing wrong with a healthy bit of adaptation, I thought, so into the mix it went.
As I said, I consider this to be a rather odd sort of joke rather than a more strait-laced gimmick. They don’t come along often. But I’ll dig out a previous ‘Inquisitor’ which was also based on a sort of joke, and put it up the first weekend in November.
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