Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Dao De Jing: The Book of the Way Paperback – May 24, 2004
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From the Inside Flap
"This is a work of great creativity and impressive scholarship. He has achieved a translation that replicates, as closely as possible, the literary merit of the original, its rhythms and its rhymes. He repeatedly brings to our attention fresh insights and interpretations that deserve careful consideration. Roberts not only makes use of the Mawangdui manuscripts but, even more importantly, the recent Guodian finds, the latter opening a whole new page in Laozi Studies."Stephen Durrant, Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Oregon and author of The Cloudy Mirror: Tension and Conflict in the Writing of Sima Qian
"Moss Roberts' commentary is provocative and compelling. The scholarship informing the work is solid, but like the Dao De Jing itself, the scholarship is not flaunted, but rather subservient to the messages of the text itself." Hoyt Tillman, Professor of History, Arizona State University.
"This new translation of the Dao De Jing is an exceptional literary effort, capable of reinvigorating the English version of the text both as literature and as philosophy, while also bringing new scholarly insight to the meaning of the work. Professor Roberts' combination of linguistic expertise and poetic sensitivity and skill is rare and special, and should win this translation a large and appreciative audience."John Major, author of Heaven and Earth in Early Han Thought, China Chic: East Meets West , and co-editor of World Poetry
"Reading Professor Moss Roberts's new translation of Dao De Jing gives one a sense of pleasure and surprise. He is a diligent and rigorous scholar, while at the same time possessing a poetic acuity to deeply penetrate the words and read between the lines . His superior translation has deepened my own comprehension of this famous Chinese classic."Fang Ping, former editor-in-chief, Shanghai Literary Translations Press
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
I put the others back, and purchased this one. Based on the Mawangdui and Guodi texts recovered from tombs in the mid 1970's, the graves were believed to date back to 170 BC, and the texts possibly to 300 BC. If so, this Moss Roberts version is from the oldest recorded texts available.
As you might appreciate portions of text were missing or in different order, and so he has reconciled them with the received text.
I find this particular version to be excellent, the author, a lecturer in Chinese, took a great deal of care in his research. His original use of language, being different from popular translations, conjures up different potential meanings and interpretations. He includes a valuable commentary which gives a context of the time and the text, which facilitates further understanding.
Here is a selection from Verse 1, so you can compare:
1 The Way as "way" bespeaks no common lasting Way.
2 The name as "name" no common lasting name.
3 Absent is the name for sky and land's first life,
4 Present for the mother of all ten thousand things.
He also clearly has a high level of intellectual understanding of being and negation, which i find useful.
In any event, if I was going to a desert island and allowed 3 versions of the Tao, I would definitely choose this one, not necessarily because it's the best, but because I have already read and gotten the inspiration from other versions, and I would be more likely to get fresh inpsiration from this one.
I love this version, and I think you will too.
I hope this review was helpful to you.
However, I found this translation to be a bit difficult. One of the reviewers on the back of the book refers to it as "poetic" - well, maybe; mostly I found it a bit of a struggle to make sense of it, and had to read through it with several parallel translations to figure out what Roberts was translating. However, in that situation, read with several parallel translations, this translation provides an worthwhile "spin". I find Mair's translation much cleaner, simpler, and more comprehensible. The two together are nice.
But the translator clearly sacrifices clarity of meaning for preservation of poetry and rhythm.
For that reason, I would recommend this book only if it isn't your first copy of a translation of the Dao De Jing.
When reading the Dao for the first time (and Roberts' translation is among the best and a fine place to start) the reader should have an open mind and a kind of widely absorbent attitude. Try to draw no conclusions about what is written until sometime has passed. Don't take the words too literally and remember that the Dao is a poem. Yes it's a poem about power and virtue, about how to rule a country and how to live life. Some of its wisdom will only come to the reader after many years of life.
Immediately I notice in Moss Roberts' translation a kind of rhythm not found in other texts. For example here is how he renders the opening of the famous first chapter:
"The Way as `way' bespeaks no common lasting Way,
The name as `name' no common lasting name.
Absent is the name for sky and land's first life,
Present for the mother of all ten thousand things."
Compare the above to J. Legge's enduring translation from 1891:
"The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.
(Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth;
(conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all things.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Got it because of this book: I Shall Seal the Heavens (我欲封天).
I am a Daoist, so I find Laozi's Dao to be interesting. I think Meng Hao's Dao is interesting, too.
If you are looking at the reviews for this book, you should probably stop and learn you've already missed the point of this book.Published 13 months ago by Sean Brown
This book has affected my way of thinking and living more than any other book I have ever read. While I feel a few things in this book are outdated and can not be realistically... Read morePublished on March 11, 2008 by Earl Vanbuskirk