Soul Endeavor

by Michael Hanko

February 19, 2015

Whether or not one accepts the tenets of Hinduism, it can be interesting to contemplate the transmigration of souls. Who among us has not imagined himself to be the latest reincarnation of a well-known person of the past?

In the puzzle below, your task is to discover the identity of ten souls. Nine of them passed into the beyond in the year prior to February 19, 1955, after achieving a historical claim to fame. The remaining soul is still working on the fame thing in a body many believe to be still alive. We should like to propose that he [that was a clue, folks!] might be a reincarnation of one of the passed souls; however, confirmation of this is beyond the scope of this exercise.

This puzzle consists of ten names, clued in the cryptic style of British crosswords. [It is up to the solver to determine which part of each clue is a description of the person and which part is wordplay based on the name.] If you are able to decrypt all of the names from the clues alone, you are probably yourself a spiritualist, attuning yourself to the afterworld for assistance. Less divinely gifted solvers may wish to consult hints in this plane of existence, which may be accessed via the links that follow.

The first-level of hints will divulge the number of letters in each answer. The second-level of hints—a mini-puzzle in its own right—provides a means of ascertaining the first letter of each answer. The third, for those who either are totally stumped or wish to check their answers, gives the solution and some bonus commentary and weblinks.

The use of metaphysical aids, such as a Ouija board, is not considered fair game. You are permitted to work in teams, so long as all members are mortal. Good luck!

It should be one's sole endeavor to see everything afresh and create it anew.
Gustav Mahler (surprisingly not referring to crossword construction)

  1. Burn backwards holding device—in Germany, it holds fifty—producing an unconventional American composer
  2. Am I right back in female chicken tissue without uranium for a producer of cut-out art?
  3. Iwo Jima flag raiser's investment plan precedes smog, it is said
  4. Porter of American song (and French in reverse) holding teaspoon for author of Gigi
  5. Mom's sister (crazy!) in ductile metal circle nets queer code breaker
  6. Great friend is empty in ravine, ran into cove
  7. Rockefeller University Hospital researcher was mixed up in old claim, yes
  8. Chop up pine tree next to emergency room, my Italian physicist
  9. Jungle cat the Spanish, say, lay to rest, tie up, for actor from It's a Wonderful Life
  10. Mexican painter is loud, stripped a kosher, damaged halo

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More puzzles here (all), here (music), here (science), and here (tributes).

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