My father appeared to be pretty near illiterate -- anyway in English. It took him a couple of hours every night to struggle his way through the newspaper, and he spoke his adopted language atrociously.
Sometimes, in order to give my father a taste of higher culture, I'd fill him in on what I was reading. Once, on a long car ride, I told him the story of Macbeth. It turned out he knew it as well as I did -- better, in fact, since he appeared to remember scenes left out of my edition of the collected plays -- like the one in which Macbeth's father gives his son advice, and the one in which he gives Lady Macbeth (still alive...