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Tao Te Ching [Paperback]

Stephen Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (5 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A9YW9EM
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 944,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With a foreword, notes and an interview 17 Jun 2013
By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER
There are several books by the amazing Stephen Mitchell on the "Tao Te Ching." The two that I know--this one and his "Tao Te Ching Lao Tzu: An Illustrated Journey" 1999)--use his free-flowing and poetic translation from 1988. Here we have also a foreword, some interesting notes on the translation, some commentary, and an interview with Mitchell.

For an example of Mitchell's commentary, consider this line from Chapter 3:

"The Master leads
by emptying people's minds"

This always troubled me but Mitchell's explanation seems right:

"He empties them of concepts, judgments, and desires. Thus they can return to a state of childlike simplicity."

This is similar to the Zen story about a very learned man visiting a Zen master who poured tea. The master kept pouring until the cup overflowed. It also reminds me of the adage attributed variously to baseball managers Casey Stengel and Earl Weaver: "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."

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. Mitchell wrote "...
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