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Isaac Newton

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Title: 世界偉人:牛頓
Translated title: Giant Biography – Newton
Language: Chinese
Year: 2006

At the end of last month, I decided that I should try to read more Chinese. More specifically, I said that I would read more without focusing too much on language, grammar and new words, but simply read because it’s nice and because quantity really is king when it comes to learning a language. This is the second book I read in Chinese, after 小故事大道理: 民間故事 and even though I would not say that it is more difficult, it is certainly different in many regards.

The purpose of this series is to introduce giants of Western history to Taiwanese children. The series comprises twelve biographies and I decided to start with Newton, simply because I had quite a good grasp of what he did, but almost no notion whatsoever what his personal life was like. Since that is the goal, this book is fairly suitable, because it mentions almost nothing about Newton’s professional life or his achievements. It also focuses a lot on his childhood, which is a bit irritating because it means there is no room for his adult life. Still, I find the contents interesting and fairly well-balanced between being entertaining (dialogues, for instance, which are probably not historically correct, but makes it a lot easier to read) and educating (elaborating mainly on Newton’s attitude towards learning, studying and experimenting).

What about the Chinese, then? The biggest difference between this book about Newton and the previous book I read is the volume. 世界偉人:牛頓 contains over 200 pages and approximately 30 000 characters (compared to only about 7000 in my first book). The language might be a bit more difficult, but since the setting is a little bit more familiar, it’s not that hard to understand. Also, I read to understand the basic concepts, not to fully comprehend the meaning of every single character. This picture is from the book I’m currently reading about Bach, but it gives you an idea of what the books in this series look like:

On the whole, I’m very satisfied with my choice, because this level I can read without a dictionary and I can also learn a little bit about Newton at the same time. After reading the one about Bach, though, I will try to read books that are related to Chinese society and history, but I might return to this series later.

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