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4.6 out of 5 stars85
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 3 November 2008
Translators Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo have done their best not to reinterpret the Tao Te Ching, but to allow it to speak for itself. This wonderful English version preserves the epigrammatic terseness of the original. The layout and illustrations strike the same note as the text.

What can I say - this is the best way to approach this work, short of translating it yourself. Warmly recommended
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on 11 October 2004
One of the best translations on the market. An attempt has been made to preserve some of the crystalline terseness of the original which is beyond deep. Also one key line from each section is given in Chinese along with a glossary so that you can make your own translation. For example the third line from Section 29 they translate as "The world is a spiritual vessel", the Chinese being T'ien hsia shen ch'i. On using the glossary it becomes revealed that T'ien hsia means "under heaven" or "lower heaven" - much richer that "world". It would be possible to quibble with any translation, & ideally it would be best to study two or three different translations. However this one comes closest to the spirit of the original.
This book is remarkable & indispensible though for it's presentation & the stunning ink paintings/calligraphy which perfectly compliment the text. You'd be hard pressed to find a more beautiful book anywhere. Recommended!
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on 11 February 2011
If you a swithering as to whether you should buy this book then simply don't. Swither that is. Buy it! Trust in your self and in your ability to understand the gems held within. Then gently put these gems of wisdom and light into practice and your life will change perceptively. You will be surrounded by love or your money back. Ok, so I can't promise this in actuality. But if a sack scratching Neanderthal like me can take in its wisdom and subsequently grow in spirit then you should have no problems. Why don't you use that cash you put aside for a bottle of dodgy merlot to better use and purchase a copy of this timeless companion.

Ps: There's a good car chase at the end!........................................ Ok so I lied.... Hey, small steps................. reeeeally small steps..........
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on 17 April 2015
Having been brought up in a moderately Christian household and having attended schools where daily prayers and bible readings were the norm, I thought divine scriptures were the blue print of how to live ones life. How wrong I have been for such a long time.

If we also followed the Tao Te Ching, I am fairly certain there would be no wars and we would all live in harmony with one another. Also it is older than the New Testament and simpler. I think its simplicity is part of its beauty and I sort of wish I had bought the paperback version instead of the kindle format because of the calligraphy and paintings.

On a lunch break at work, I sat on a small stone bridge in the sunshine in the middle of a nature reserve listening to the peaceful flowing of water and reading the Tao Te Ching, if anyone could experience and feel what I felt, they would understand why this is such a beautiful book. As many others suggest, do not ponder, leave something off your shopping list and buy the book, it will change your perception and, I hope, enlighten you.
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on 1 April 2011
The Tao is one of the world's masterworks. So attractive that there are more than 100 contemporary translations. The twenty that I have studied vary between the baffled and interpretative, with 'scholarly' footnotes, to the honest and clear minded attempt to reach back through the old Chinese text to as near exact a meaning as possible. The three wise old professors in this attempt very nearly suceed in the impossible. I shall use this edition as a gift to others with no Chinese who love Master Lao Tzu.
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on 14 March 2010
After trawling through several translations on-line and at my local libraries I decided to buy this version. With a mini dictionary at the end and beautiful drawings scattered in-between verses this is a simply wonderful book. The translation is sensible and precise and it features a forward from Burton Watson, who has translated many ancient Chinese books, and a short history with a pronunciation guide as well.
As for the Tao Te Ching itself, I advise anyone who's interested in life outside the normal scope to read this through and through, slowly and taking time in your day to reflect and make it part of your life, A pleasure to own.
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on 10 March 2009
Suitably sparse, elegant and mysterious. Leaves you free to embrace the uncanny poise and balance of our deepest nature. Where many translations seek to explain, they betray the spirit of the Chinese original, to speak with fewer words, to realise with fewer thoughts. Also they enable you try your hand at your own translaion of selected lines. This alone is worth the purchase. Through doing so you discover the amazing potency and fluency of the Chinese script. You can supply several different but subtely related translations of the same line which amply demonstrates how efficient and poetic it can be. In the same way synonyms elaborate and enhance a single thought, a single line can resonate and glow with related meaning.
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on 25 October 2010
Just a fabulously insightful book. If you're in the right frame of mind and need to find your own answers, flick through this and contemplate.
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on 9 June 2016
On account of the reviews here, echoed on the book's cover, I had high expectations. Now, I find it impossible to square these with reality. After the Introduction'd brief history of China, is a Translator's Preface. The skillful use by poets of the almost three-dimensional nuancing of Chinese is well known, yet the cogitations of the linguists here end up offering us the opening line as:- "Tao called Tao is not Tao". They say they chose this translation as it has six words and there are six characters in the Chinese! The fact that the translation OMITS one of these Chinese "words" ... .... Well, did this escape people's notice, or was it just considered irrelevant, unnecessary, or actually an improvement? The omitted word, is "ch'ang", translated variously as enduring/constant/eternal/invariant/everlasting etc. It has apparently been omitted, as the translator states: " order to retain the simplicity, rhythm, and power of the Chinese", You're having a laugh right?! I was left feeling the translators saw the author as a primitive, whose expression is best understood by modern readers as merely a series of rhythmic grunts. This Translator's Preface should have left me craving the insights to follow, but I find it contains little more than the most obvious of those issues that face anyone when dealing with any foreign language at any level. No insights. I was dumbstruck and found I had to fight the urge to simply toss the tome in the bin. But I simply can't get past this crass beginning. I can be greatful I suppose for the confirmation provided that the translation I have remembered since high school: "The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao", is simply ... correct, and it is I admit quite wonderful to discover, after all the hullabalo, that that most elegant and glorious of axioms turns out to be such an astonishingly simple thng to translate, but is this really enough to give the book shelf room? Now it has explained its credentials in awful detail to me, I cannot imagine ever being able to look at the thing without a sense of revulsion. The Tao Te Ching is, at the very least, a work of great beauty, yet this intellectual pawing has rendered it as kitsch. As a footnote, I have very little familiarity with Chinese calligraphy, and the illustrations seem spirited and earnest, but for me they lack any deftness or subtlety. There is almost no variation in the brush strokes, no sense of depth, and often little or no evocation of space or time or relation. But these are inconsequential points in the context of the quality of the text. Heaven knows how these guys would have coped with ancient Finnish poetry!
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on 21 October 2011
At first reading I was startled, as this is very different to most translations of the Tao Te Ching.
This translation is fantastic because of its simplicity. It cuts to the core of many verses and avoids the wordy English translations which try to 'explain' what Lao Tzu meant. It also avoids the use of 'he' as a pronoun and in doing so recreates the genderlessness of the Chinese original. It has good clarity and retains some of the poetry and pace of the original - so it seems very 'authentic'. The Chinese-style paintings and the use of Chinese characters alongside the text make the book quite beautiful, too.

My only gripe is that sometimes this version uses a more complex vocabulary and words which have a 'western' meaning, such as in the following from Verse 18:
Addis & Lombardo "...filial piety and affection arise / the nation disordered, patriots come forth"

The use of 'patriots' in this verse sticks out for me. In my opinion a patriot is someone who wants respect for their achievements, which the Tao Te Ching warns against, therefore I do not feel this word is the best choice. Although the concept of 'filial piety' is a Chinese concept, many people might not know what this means.

Perhaps the brevity of this translation, which is its best asset, is also its downfall, as it somestimes comes across as a little heartless.

I would contrast this with Red Pine's translation (which for me is more easily understood):
"...we meet obedience and love / when the country is in chaos, we meet upright officials"

The Addis and Lombardo translation is an excellent work, but better suited as a refreshing text for someone who has already read other 'explanatory' versions of the Tao.
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