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Johan Sebastian Bach

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

Since this book is part of a series of books and I’ve already introduced Newton’s biography, please refer to that review for general comments about the series. This is the third book I read in Chinese this month and it’s also the best one so far. I’m not sure why, because it’s the same group of people who churns out these books, and there should be no significant difference. First and foremost, the contents in this volume is much more balanced, describing the important bits of Bach’s life without dwelling endlessly on the minutia of his childhood.

Bach’s life itself might also be more interesting than Newton’s, even though that might be due tot he presentation rather than due to the life the actually lead. Today, Bach is primarily known as one of the most brilliant composers of all time, but during his lifetime, he was primarily a famous organist, and people regarded his compositions as somewhat old-fashioned and boring. Still, he was a genius in more than one regard and reading about such people is always interesting (I don’t know if this is just me, what about you?).

I also like the way this book is educational without being overtly moralising, which I have found is true for other Chinese children’s books (such as 小故事大道理: 民間故事). Throughout the book, the reader becomes convinced that being a genius is certainly a bonus, but it’s not enough on its own to achieve true greatness. Even though people constantly praise Bach for his achievements, he’s never satisfied and always strives to enrich his music and fine-tune his skills.

Language-wise this book is equal to the previous one, but since it is the fourth book I read in Chinese instead of the second, I find it a lot easier. There are of course numerous characters I don’t understand, but as long as I understand or can guess the general meaning, I’m satisfied. I haven’t decided what to do with the rest of the series (there are ten more books), but it’s not unlikely that I’ll read at least a couple more.

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