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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An early version of the *Tao Te Ching*
This translation of the *Tao Te Ching* is based on the 1973 discovery of ancient silk manuscripts of the text at Ma-wang-tui in central China. For those familiar with the *Tao Te Ching*, this translation will be surprising. The chapters are not in the original order, and a few chapters, familiar from later versions, did not exist in this early version. Unlike most...
Published on August 10, 2000 by Michael P. McGarry

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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Expected Better!
With so many five and four star ratings, and with an impressive introduction that appeared on the sample sent to my Kindle, I expected a must better translation of the classic. I appreciate his choosing to translate "De" as "Integrity," but other than that, I found much discrepancy between the translation and the original language.

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Published on June 29, 2012 by M633


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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An early version of the *Tao Te Ching*, August 10, 2000
By 
Michael P. McGarry (Berkeley, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way (Paperback)
This translation of the *Tao Te Ching* is based on the 1973 discovery of ancient silk manuscripts of the text at Ma-wang-tui in central China. For those familiar with the *Tao Te Ching*, this translation will be surprising. The chapters are not in the original order, and a few chapters, familiar from later versions, did not exist in this early version. Unlike most translations of this text, the first half of this translation focuses on TE (which Mair translates as "integrity"), and the second half focuses on TAO. Thus, the famous opening line (here translated as "The ways that can be walked are not the eternal Way") is found here as the first line of chapter 45. Mair provided extensive introduction, annotations, and "Afterword". Clearly, his primary concerns are philological in nature. While I would not recommend this to someone reading the *Tao Te Ching* for the first time, this translation could be quite helpful for someone comparing translations and trying to come to a deeper understanding of the text.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Refreshing, Scholarly translation of the Tao Te Ching!, September 23, 2001
By 
Doug M "陀愚" (The Jack n' the Box at the corner) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way (Paperback)
Victor Mair is a well-known scholar of Classical Chinese, and I feel that of the many translations of the Tao Te Ching, his is the best by far! Thanks in part due to the discovery of the Ma Wang Tui scrolls, this book provides a refreshing change to the cookie-cutter translations I have seen in the past, and in the back of the book goes into great deal on why he translated thing the way he did.
As a amateur in Classical Chinese myself, I feel that Mr. Mair's translation is definitely the most accurate in relation to the general mood of the time in China, when many other such classics were being written (Confucius's Analects for example). Many of these classics drew upon the same pool of ideas, and this particular translation shows the mood of that time better than any other I have seen. Most translations tend to interpret words and phrases in a modern light, but Mair's is true to philosophy of the time.
I also like the detailed analysis that Mair does in comparing the Tao with other religions in Asia (in particular Judaism and Hinduism) and how they also drew upon a common pool of ideas prevalent at the time. I believe he makes a very strong case for this.
For those who are not interested in the historical aspect of Taoism, I feel they will still enjoy this book very much because this translation preserves the spiritual mystery of the Tao Te Ching (another aspect most translations lack), and lets the reader interpret the meaning as he/she sees fit.
Anyhow, in closing, a fanstatic translation, that stands above the rest. I strongly recommend this for both scholars and enthusiasts alike.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoy this throughly., March 20, 2005
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This review is from: Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way (Paperback)
Over the course of the last 15 years or so I've seen maybe six English translations of the Tao Te Ching, including those of Red Pine and Henricks. I'm not qualified to speak to the accuracy of Mair's effort, but I have found it to be far and away the most poetic and powerful that I've encountered. This truely sings in places, as Mair attempts (so he says) to impart not only the meaning of each verse, but its approximate effect as well.

However, Mair is not shy (nor is he intrusive) when it comes to pointing out awkward and impenetrable language or derivative notions wherever he believes he encounters them. I find this kind of frankness instructive and refreshing. It led me to a greater appreciation for the rich historical context of both the text and the ideas that it conveys.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I really didn't like this one at first..., July 13, 2003
By 
A. Ort "aorto" (Youngstown, Ohio) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way (Paperback)
It has, however, grown on me. Victor Mair is obviously a scholar of the highest order when it comes to this particular text. He is well versed in scholarly areas that are literally foreign to me. Over time, they have begun to make sense a bit more but I was quite put off by this in the beginning. The other thing that was off-putting was his frequent use of 'I' in terms of his studies of Taoism. His reference also to 'new' and 'never before considered' avenues of comparison between Taoism and Hinduism gave me the impression of braggadocio that was quite disconcerting. I couldn't get passed what seemed to me to be scholarly arrogance, a bit too puffed up on knowledge (which, for readers of the Tao, can lead one astray...).
I've since gotten beyond that and have begun to learn from what he has to say. I believe what he has to say is valuable and needs to be considered (albeit with some salt). He does know his stuff. As a scholar, and as one who has obviously put a great deal of thought into dissecting the nuances of translating ancient Chinese terms into more modern English, he has done an exquisite job in helping to really understand what the terms literally mean.
The drawback with this, however, is that it tends to be a bit dry and overly scholastic in nature. But on the same note this is also important in trying to really get to what the terms mean rather than what we may read into them (though this is not so cut and dry as it may sound).
So I have begun to really appreciate his unequalled journey into the meanings of the terms and their context (though his journeys into comparing them to Hindu/Buddhist equivalents gets a bit tedious...) really helps me in drawing out deeper meanings when balanced with other translations.
So kudos to his effort. It is really beginning to grow on me. I suppose my issue is not with him, per se, but the havoc that pure academia can wreak. Moving beyond this, however, it becomes clear that he is merely trying to rattle those of us who have become quite comfortable in our views on the Tao Te Ching. A must for anyone's collection of translations (and a big help, I would imagine, if you know Chinese and are more aware of the difficulties in its translation into English).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way to Do It, December 2, 2007
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This review is from: Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way (Paperback)
Dr. Mair does an excellent job again. Despite or because of his academic perspective, he treats the Tao Te Ching with great respect not only as a work of literature or of wisdom, but of the spirit.

Not only do his academic insights open up a great deal of the spirit of the text itself, they offer new understanding of other traditions/paths and spirituality in general.

The woodcuts, the fonts used and the size of the book add to its readability and preciousness. This is my fourth version of the Tao and, to date, my favorite.

(I also recommend Dr. Mair's "Chang-Tzu.")
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Translation, January 7, 2009
By 
ssingh1 (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way (Paperback)
Victor Mair is as much a poet as he is a scholar. This translation reads wonderfully, and while it may not be as technically detailed as some other translations of the Dao De Ching, it's worth it in that the writing is beautiful and soulful. The appendices at the end are not to be missed either as they offer original and intriguing commentaries.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dip in, the dip deepens, June 21, 2009
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This review is from: Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way (Paperback)
Author claims to base his rearrangement of sections of the Tao Te Ching on earlier texts than usually used. His translation and rearrangement have taken me places I did not quite reach before and I am grateful for his
efforts. Lovers of the Tao will find his approach well worth adding to their resources.

Michael Eigen
Flames from the Unconscious: Trauma, Madness and Faith
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Poetic Translation of the Tao Te Ching Around, July 27, 2007
By 
Natasha Salvo (Newcastle, ME United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way (Paperback)
I have read several other versions and this one is by far the best in terms of its poetry. Also, interestingly, the two books, Tao and Te are in reverse order to most other translations, which this translator believes to be more authentic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful, January 16, 2001
By 
L. Kolosky "prieofmorr" (chisholm, Minnesota United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way (Paperback)
I loved all the wonderful advice and teachings that this book has given me,i am not practice Taoism but this still is a wonderful book for anyone to read.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Expected Better!, June 29, 2012
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This review is from: Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way (Paperback)
With so many five and four star ratings, and with an impressive introduction that appeared on the sample sent to my Kindle, I expected a must better translation of the classic. I appreciate his choosing to translate "De" as "Integrity," but other than that, I found much discrepancy between the translation and the original language.

Readers that don't know Chinese would not have any problems, but I like to put the translation with the Chinese text side by side so that I can understand better. That's how I got disappointed.

Some translated words are annoyingly misleading. For example "''" in classical Chinese means "kingdom," or "nation," but Mair translated it literally as "all under heaven." That would take the reader away farther from the original intend of the Tao Te Ching. "''" which means "the king" is translated as "ruler of men." That might sound OK, but Mair says that he tries to use inclusive language wherever he can. So why "men?" If he uses "the king" he would be more accurate and would have avoided the exclusive language.

Some chapters are quite off. For example, chapter 57 (13), giving that is a harder chapter, he just comes up with a totally different meaning. He starts the first line as "Being favored is so disgraceful that it startles," which in Chinese is "''''" meaning "Both honor and disgrace can be startling," or "Either honor or disgrace is like a frightening experience." It's quite a stretch to translate it as "Being favored is so disgraceful..."

Further more, I was expecting some footnotes or end-notes to guide the reader for better understanding of the classic. However, he just presented his translation as it is, as if it is the most authoritative. Even though he mentioned it in the introduction that it was not easy to translate, I expect some notes showing his struggle with certain words or phrases, and I didn't expect some words and chapters that are so way off.
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Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way
Tao Te Ching: The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way by Lao-Tzu (Paperback - September 1, 1990)
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