Friday, 2 May 2014


Suppose you want to build a book of travel writing from questions found in My Book of English Exercises, Volume II, used in Portuguese high schools, circa 1957.

Here, first, is your epigraph:

By a double mechanism of revision and exercises the student’s knowledge is maintained and enlarged and his attention seized and held.

And your first 13 questions:

What must I wait for?

Was there any dog in the lady’s bedroom?

Must every steamship have a propeller?

Were all the rooms in the houses well-furnished?

What do you mean by travel?

What is a city?

What did you _______ yesterday?

What do you mean by food?

Is this a bus?

Which way am I to go?

Who builds with stone?

Are there not any banknotes?

When do you think of starting?

Good luck!

For inspiration, consider Outra Forma De Luta (Another Way to Fight), which I saw last night at the Indie film festival in Lisbon. A leader of the anti-Fascist movement, Carlos Antunes, while in jail prior to the 1974 coup that dumped the dictatorship in Portugal, was given 13 questions on 13 pieces of graph paper by a journalist. The journalist died 2 days later. The questions were never answered, until this documentary, in which Antunes turns the pages one by one and answers them.

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