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Tao Te Ching: An Illustrated Journey Hardcover – 1 Apr 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln; New Ed edition (1 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0711212783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711212787
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Stephen Mitchell was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1943. He studied at Amherst, the University of Paris and Yale. His previous books include Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke and The Book of Job. He lives with his wife in Berkeley, California.


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The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By G. Barlow on 21 May 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a literal translation of the TTC then this isn't it - however, it's way more readable than other versions. I think Stephen Mitchell explains himself very well in his Forward:

"With great poetry, the freest translation is sometimes the most faithful. 'We must try its effect as an English Poem,' Dr Johnson said; 'that is the way to judge of the merit of a translation'. I have often been fairly literal - or as literal as one can be with such a subtle, kaleidoscopic book as the Tao Te Ching. But I have also paraphrased, expanded, contracted, interpreted, worked with the text, played with it, until it became embodied in a language that felt genuine to me. If I haven't always translated Lao Tzu's words, my intention has always been to translate his mind."

And I think he does a damn good job. You can compare his translation of verse 15 with the James Legge version below, for example. I know which translation I prefer.

Legge:

"The skilful masters (of the Tao) in old times, with a subtle
and exquisite penetration, comprehended its mysteries, and were deep
(also) so as to elude men's knowledge. As they were thus beyond men's
knowledge, I will make an effort to describe of what sort they
appeared to be.

Shrinking looked they like those who wade through a stream in
winter; irresolute like those who are afraid of all around them; grave
like a guest (in awe of his host); evanescent like ice that is melting
away; unpretentious like wood that has not been fashioned into
anything; vacant like a valley, and dull like muddy water.

Who can (make) the muddy water (clear)? Let it be still, and it
will gradually become clear. Who can secure the condition of rest?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Jun 2013
Format: Hardcover
There are several books by the amazing Stephen Mitchell on the "Tao Te Ching." The two that I know--this one and his Harper Perennial "Tao Te Ching" (2006)--use his free-flowing and poetic translation from 1988. This book is also distinguished by the beautiful artwork on Taoist themes selected by Stephen Little.

Mitchell is a master at turning religious works into contemporary English poetry while being essentially true to the original. Noteworthy is his graceful translation of the Gita in "Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation" (2000). However Mitchell does not know Chinese and therefore in effect is interpreting translations augmented by his scholarship and literary experience. Some people find this off-putting but I think it's okay as long as you are not looking for most faithful to the "original" rendering.

I have read the Tao in several English translations (or renderings) and I can say that Mitchell's is one of the best. By "best" I mean as a work of religious literature that is essentially true to the meaning and spirit of the original. It is interesting in this regard to note that Mitchell wrote that "...the most essential preparation for my work was a fourteen-year-long course of Zen training, which brought me face to face with Lao-tzu and his true disciples and heirs, the early Chinese Zen Masters."

Mitchell adds (in true Taoist paradoxical style) "With great poetry, the freest translation is sometimes the most faithful... If I haven't always translated Lao-tzu's words, my intention has always been to translate his mind." (The quotes are from the Foreword he wrote for the Harper Perennial book mentioned above.)

A nearly instant test of a rendering of the "Tao" is a quick look at the opening couplet and at one or two of the most famous stanzas.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By inch worm on 22 Nov 2009
Format: Paperback
It is a daring thing to do these days to make yet another translation of the Tao Te Ching because there have been so many to date. It would seem to be a necessary requisite to produce something that singles an edition out from the crowd. Here is a stunning publication that has been sympathetically translated ( I am not a Chinese scholar so can make no comment as to accuracy).I have at least six different editions of the Tao Te Ching on my shelves all of which I like but Frances Lincoln have produced an edition that is so beautiful that it is a work of art.It is an unpretentious size with an exquisite yet understated cover. Very high quality paper has been used throughout and on every other page there are full page reproductions of Chinese paintings of the Sung, Yuan, Ming and Ch'ing dynasties. These paintings are delightful with every detail visible and are also exquisite. The whole book seems to me to reflect perfect harmony and is entirely at one with the text. Congratulations to both Stephen Mitchell for his illuminating translation and to Frances Lincoln for this inspiring and optimum quality publication.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By K. Campbell on 10 Nov 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has become a treasure to me - I read a page from it everyday, and look at the beautiful illustrations. The translation is modern, but thoroughly appropriate, and the wording is wonderful. The artwork harmonises with the words in a lovely way. I have bought 2 copies of this book for my best friends, as well as one for myself!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By N. Bar on 21 May 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ok, I'm sure that Mitchel has taken lots of liberties, but the result is beautiful and readable.

I tried the John Wu translation, which I'm sure is much more accurate, and that's all you can say about it - accurate. It doesn't move you; it's all left brain.

Any translation course will teach you that you must make choices about the interpetation you give. This is exceedingly more important in a text as old and complex as this. Mitchel was bold enough to make choices. Being a student in spirutality for many years, none of his choices ring untrue; I believe that he's close to the spirit of the original text, even tough I have no tools to confirm it.

I suggest that the text should be examined mainly by how much it touches the heart. It did touch mine, big time.
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