Customer Reviews: The I Ching: The Book of Changes (Sacred Books of China: The Book of Changes)
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on March 16, 2016
If you know anything about translations of the "I Ching", this is the Gold Standard of them all. James Legge has translated the 5 Chinese classics and so much more (the Li Chi, the Book of Poetry, the Texts of Taoism, etc). I was fortunate enough to find his 4 volume "The Chinese Classics" before I went to teach English in China back in 1992 and they were invaluable to framing my understanding of the Chinese mindset and culture (even in this post-Mao era). His 50+ page Introduction is worth the price of the book in itself. I was very glad I found a hardback copy of the book, as this would be one paperback I would wear out.
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on July 13, 2008
I am not an afficianado of the written word. I am not sure I even spelled that one right. However I have been using James Legge's translation of the I Ching since 1975. I never did care whether he used an outdated method of interpretation. Needless to say my copy of the book is in disrepare regardless of the care taken to preserve it. I has been read and re-read until the pages have turned yellow and beyond. I have recently ordered other translations and have been left much less than satisfied. The translation from James Legge is the most clear and concise that I have read. I have found that the more you read the I Ching, the more you understand yourself. Perhaps that is the key. and...Perhaps I will never truly understand everything and have quite frankly have misinterpreted the outcomes on more than one occasion, but I also can say without a doubt that it is usually spot on. All I will advise is to try it, what have you got to lose. Really read it. Don't try to understand it all at once. Just a bit at a time. It's amazing what you will learn. Not just for the oriental's but for the occidental's as well. Change is change no matter who you are, what your religion is, or where you live. Enjoy.
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on January 18, 2008
The text here is the classic, if not especially reader-friendly, translation by James Legge (a widely recognized 19th century Sinologist). Unfortunately this Kindle edition is terribly marred, beginning with the scary typo in the byline: "Fu His" should read "Fu Hsi", and _is_ given the proper romanization later within this version of the text.

Worse -- practically unforgivable, in fact making the text nearly worthless to anyone without a paper copy, are the nearly unreadable graphic renderings of the hexagrams themselves. Instead of each line of the hexagram appearing on its own line in the text, the six lines appear as one long series of dashes. A reader already familiar with the text can (with no small effort) parse this wierd presentation, but for a reader who might read this version as their first introduction to this classic text, the formatting snafu renders the entire text even more strange than it would otherwise be -- considering the Legge translation is far from the most explanatory when it comes to offering newcomers insight into the oracle and the way it is traditionally accessed or consulted.

Also, especially considering the romanization scheme used in the text -- one of the older schemes, not Wade-Giles, and certainly not Pinyin -- it would have been wise to include in the text graphic renderings of the Chinese characters that give each hexagram its name. This would save those unfamiliar with Chinese the momentary puzzlement over the strange, barely pronounceable rendering of those names in approximately phonetic form.

Such formatting oversights and lack of even the most basic proofreading seem to mar a good share of many early Kindle conversions. To be fair, for all I know these errors may also appear endemically within the e-texts on which documents like this one appear to have been based.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, this rendering of the Legge translation is the only version of the I Ching available on the Kindle. In this case I would say that print is not yet dead.

Versions I can recommend in printed form (and that I hope will become available on Kindle) include:

The I Ching or Book of Changes

The link here refers to the classic Wilhelm-Baynes translation, which includes an introduction by Carl Jung. This was the translation that introduced me to the text and its own particular evocative forms. It was probably about three-quarters of the reason I chose to study Chinese.

The Illustrated I Ching

Perhaps more generally accessible than the Wilhelm-Baynes -- there are many other translations available as well, some of which may be better than R.L. Wing's translation, linked above. Many of those I've looked at strive for more "accessible" language than either Legge or Wilhelm-Baynes.

Personally, I like my translations (at least of the I Ching or Yi Jing) allusive and capable of many different readings and interpretations. This one strikes a decent balance, though I confess I usually go right to the Wilhelm-Baynes unless I find this or one of the other translations on my shelves first, or decide to consult the original Classical Chinese text (usually with help from a Modern Chinese rendition). I mention these only in passing as -- in light of my sampling of other Chinese texts and language workbooks on Kindle -- the Kindle is presently not equipped to handle raw Chinese texts with any kind of predictable outcome.
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on July 20, 2002
This Dover edition of James Legge's translation of I Ching will definitely not be to the taste of every afficiondo of this ancient work. However, it is really informative and clear in ways that other, more famous or convenient editions, are not. The main difficulties involve a Legge's use of a system of transliteration no longer in use, (having been superceded at least twice in the past century), lack of page headings, an odd layout of footnotes (which begin at the end of each section of text being discussed, and the separation of all commentaries by ancient authors into appendices. If this sounds like a list of complaints, it is not. Most volumes of the I Ching put the various commentaries on each hexagram on the same page as the hexagram and oldest text, creating what is, in fact, a false impression of unity. Although the format is not to modern standards, this volume is very helpful to the understanding of the I Ching in particular, and the history of Chinese thought in general.
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