Saturday, December 14, 2013

Autodidacts and facts, facts, facts

What doesn't a schoolgirl get to know in a single day! Take me, for example. First, I translated a piece from Dutch into English, about Nelson's last battle. After that, I went through some more of Peter the Great's war against Norway (1700-1721), Charles XII, Augustus the Strong, Stanislavs Leczinsky, Mazeppa, Von Gorz, Brandenburg, Poxnerania and Denmark, plus the usual dates.

After that I landed up in Brazil, read about Bahia tobacco, the abundance of coffee and the one and a half million inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro, of Pemambuco and Sao Paulo, not forgetting the river Amazon; about Negroes, Mulattos, Mestizos, Whites, more than fifty per cent of the population being illiterate, and the malaria. As there was still some tone left, I quickly ran through a family tree. Jan the Elder, Willem Lodewijk, Ernst Casimir I, Hendrik Casimir I, right up to the little Margriet Franciska (born in 1943 in Ottawa).

Twelve o'clock: In the attic, I continued my program with the history of the Church--Phew! Till one o'clock.

Just after two, the poor child sat working (mm, hm!) again, this time studying narrow- and broad-nosed monkeys. Kitty, tell me quickly how many toes a hippopotamus has! Then followed the Bible, Noah and the Ark, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. After that Charles V. Then with Peter: The Colonel, in English by Thackeray. Heard my French verbs and then compared the Mississippi with the Missouri.

--Anne Frank, 21 April, 19444
Not "have to know;" "get to know."

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