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Lao Tzu - Tao Te Ching: Translated by DC Lau.
on 1 April 2012
The Tao Te Ching (pinyin: Daodejing) is a book of ancient Chinese philosophy, emphasising the understanding of, and the living in accordance with, the natural flow of nature. This natural flow is termed 'tao' which translates as the 'way', or 'path' - it is a road to be followed. Such a path, once discovered and adhered to, is said to be 'te', or 'virtuous' - therefore the title 'Tao Te Ching' means the 'Way of Virtue Classic'. As a distinct text it is central to Taoist thought and is believed to have been written by the ancient sage called Lao Tzu - the old, wise one. Although relatively brief,(it contains 81 short chapters), its philosophy has permeated Chinese thought for centuries. It is often referred to in Chinese as the 'Lao Tzu'.
The paperback (1974) edition contains 191 numbered pages, and contains an Introduction, the translated text (from Chinese into English), and two Appendices:
Lao Tzu Book One.
Lao Tzu Book Two.
List of Passages for Comparison.
Appendix 1) The Problem of Authorship.
Appendix 2) The Nature of the Work.
The author - DC Lau - Din Cheuk Lau (1921-2010) was a British born Chinese academic and Chinese scholar. Being fluent in both English and Chinese, Lau was able to produce clear and concise English translations of important Chinese texts that are academically reliable. Like his other excellent translations, the Tao Te Ching appears in the Penguin Classics series. Translations of this kind, although they may appear common today, are nevertheless not easy to produce. However, Lau's perfect understanding of both the Chinese and English languishes allows him not only to translate, but also to correctly 'transliterate' the Chinese terms in a manner that retains and conveys the original message into English. The Tao Te Ching is actually two books combined; the first book is called the 'Tao Ching' (Way Classic) and consists of chapters 1 - 37. The second book is entitled the 'Te Ching' (Virtue Classic) and consists of chapters 38-81. The traditional view is that the man named Lao Tzu was an older contemporary of Confucius (551-479BCE), and that this text dates from that time. Interestingly, a biography of Lao Tzu can be found in the 'Shiji', or the 'Records of the Historian' - written in the first century BCE by the Han scholar Ssu-ma Ch'ien. The core of this work is undoubtedly ancient, and DC Lau produces here a translation that must be described as 'pristine'.