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The Classic of the Way and Virtue: A New Translation of the Tao-Te Ching of Laozi as Interpreted by Wang Bi (Translations from the Asian Classics) Hardcover – 1 Mar 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; New Ed edition (1 Mar. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231105800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231105804
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,518,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Review

Lynn's translation is excellent. He approaches Wang Bi's text as it should be approached, that is as a piece of philosophical writing... [A]n important contribution to our knowledge of commentarial methodology which played a dominating role throughout the intellectual history of imperial China. Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia Lynn's translation is finely crafted, following the high standard he established in his The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi... [An] excellent, high-impact stud[y]. -- Alan K. L. Chan Journal of Chinese Religions ...Wang Bi challenges us to appreciate the many paradoxes in the Tao-te Ching and to warmly embrace its wisdom in the ordinary rounds of our everyday lives.

About the Author

Richard John Lynn is professor of Chinese thought and literature at the University of Toronto. He is the author or translator of five books, including The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi. (Columbia)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The Sayings of the Old Master (Laozi), or Classic of the Way and Virtue (Daode jing), consist of eighty-one short aphoristic sections, that, though self-contained, often refer to each other and as a whole present a consistent and integrated view of how the sage rules the world in accordance with the spontaneous way of the Natural (ziran zhi dao). Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 May 1999
Format: Hardcover
I just got this and it has instantly become my favorite translation. It seemed to click. Add to that the fact that it is more than just the author's interpretation. He includes explanations from people other than himself to try and milk out as much depth as possible using words. Considering the Tao is a wordless form of teaching, these words are wonderful.
Do yourself a favor and add this to your balance of translations. If you don't have one, this is a great place to start.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By lector on 11 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback
I've got several translations of this chinese classic. Some of them simply translate the 81 chapters of this book. Every one is different. This one tranlates the 81 chapters, and gives the commentaries on this great classic writen by wang bi around 200 A.C. The commentaries are almost as valuable as the text itself, and the author includes also very interesting commentaries on the bibliography. I think this one is the best translation, most serious and academic that I've ever read. It only lacks of the original in chinese, and a phonetic translation, or even a dictionary including every word used in the chinese original. Anyway, an excellent work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Like a treasure chest... 8 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I just got this and it has instantly become my favorite translation. It seemed to click. Add to that the fact that it is more than just the author's interpretation. He includes explanations from people other than himself to try and milk out as much depth as possible using words. Considering the Tao is a wordless form of teaching, these words are wonderful.
Do yourself a favor and add this to your balance of translations. If you don't have one, this is a great place to start.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
wow 15 Mar. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"~Finally, a full translation of the Wang Bi commentary. Lynn's translation of the Daode jing itself is nothing new (though it's nice to see many key terms bracketed in Chinese as they appear, and some passages are translated in a fresh and insightful way), but the introduction and commentary by Wang Bi are every bit as brilliant as I'd been led to believe. You cannot fail to gain a deeper understanding of this seminal Taoist text from Wang's commentaries."~ fair, and nonjudgmental throughout, a rare quality in Taoist studies, also providing an extensive bibliography, glossary, and index, in addition to an excellent introduction. This is _the_ best scholarly translation of the Daode jing I have seen.This is not some phony ancient Chinese justification of libertarianism, or think a translation of the DDJ has to be particularly beautiful and poetic to be meaningful (not that there's anything wrong with sounding poetic! it just misses the point of the DDJ), you simply can't go wrong with this book. Thanks to R. Lynn for making this available to all of us who cannot read Classical Chinese. I will not be surprised if this book is someday considered an authoritative translation.
19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Te, that is� 1 Jun. 2001
By BlueJay54 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This latest translation of the Chinese Taoist Classic is a dry and lifeless specimen, not surprising from a man whose translation of the I Ching was praised for "having no truck with 'timeless wisdom.'" (back cover blurb). This volume's claim to fame, beyond its slim and attractive appearance, is the complete translation of Wang Bi, a 23 year old commentator from 3rd century CE China. To determine whether this translation is for you, you should know that Wang Bi had a strong inclination toward political interpretation, a proclivity probably due to the "high official status and prestige" of his family and their role in government and politics [p. 9], a trend furthered by his great-uncle's "Treatise on Keeping One's Person Safe"-which begins by making government secure [p. 10]. (Now there's a Chinese virtue, eh?) Consider also Wang Bi's answer as to why Confucius never spoke of nothingness while Lao Tzu spoke of it incessantly (as the Mother of the Ten Thousand Things etc.): "The Sage [Confucius] embodied nothingness so he also knew that it could not be explained in words....Master Lao...constantly discussed nothingness...for what he said about it always fell short [p. 12]." Now if you believe that someone who could say that actually knew anything firsthand about the Tao, then this book is for you. And if you are interested in Wang Bi, see Ellen Chen's superb translation/commentary which puts it in perspective. Otherwise, this is a book on Te-social virtue-where the scholarship is impeccable and the feeling is weak. And that's the Way it is!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Get this book! You will cherish it. 19 Sept. 2014
By Kindlorde - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Words cannot describe how excellent this translation and commentary are. This book is worth owning for Wang Bi's commentary alone, which I gather is considered one of the best there is. And it's a wonderful bonus that Richard Lynn's translation is so good and scholarly, with expertly placed and brief footnotes and scholarly interpolations. So, in the interest of letting the text speak for itself, here's one line from the Tao Te Ching followed by Wang Bi's commentary.

"The Dao may be hidden and nameless, but it alone is good at bestowing and completing." Here's Wang Bi's commentary: "All these manifestations of excellence are achieved by the Dao. When it exists as an image, it is the great image, but the great image is formless. When it exists as note, it is the great note, but the great note is an inaudible sound. Things are completed by it, but they do not see its form. Thus it is hidden and nameless. When it bestows, this is not limited merely to supplying what something specifically happens to need. Once it makes its bestowal, this is sufficient to make the virtue of that something last until its end. Thus the text says: 'It ... is good at bestowing.' The way it completes things is not like the way the carpenter makes something. With it, not a single thing fails to fulfill its form perfectly. Thus the text says: 'it ... is good at ... completing.'"

In sum, any serious student of the Tao Te Ching in English translation would probably benefit by adding this book to his collection of translations.
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