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The Acquisition of Knowledge

Once again, ORbits offers you the opportunity to test your knowledge of all things literary. To celebrate St Andrew’s Day, this week’s passage comes from a contemporary Scottish literary giant:

One major difference was that the kids here, though easily as thick, were much more docile and well-behaved. Actually doing schoolwork was acceptable. The teachers were okay; my interest in nature and wildlife were positively encouraged. They were nice to me, my accent mattered less to the teachers in South Africa than it had done to those in my native city. Once I got over this culture shock, I found myself relishing the acquisition of knowledge. Schoolwork became interesting and I lost my urge to escape into the Silver Surfer and my other comic-book fantasies. I couldn’t learn enough about things. I had, for the first time, ambition of a sort. Before, when people had asked me what I wanted to be, I would have just shrugged; I might have said a soldier, just because it seemed good fun shooting at people, like just a daft kid’s thing. Now I was into being a zoologist. On my eleventh birthday I could see possibilities: good grades here, followed by the same at high school, a university place at Witwatesrand or Pretoria or Rand Afrikaans studying zoology or biology, then some field work, post-grad stuff, and there I’d be. I saw a career path.

The old man’s piss-up blew that away.

The answer to last week’s challenge was Darwin: A Life in Poems by Ruth Padel.

This week’s answer, and another challenge, on ORbits next week.