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Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition Paperback – August 25, 2003
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--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Still, as an American consumer, I want the real deal, whether I'm buying a cheeseburger or an ancient philosophy. If true words can't be spoken, and you're gonna go and speak 'em anyway, at least make 'em as true as you can. I mean, what does a guy have to do to get the meaning of life around here, learn Chinese?
Enter Jonathan Star. Based on my comparison to five others, Star's lawn jart lands smack in the middle. Isn't that what Taoism is about? Getting to the center? He also made sure this would be the LAST translation you'd ever need, by including a second, "verbatim" translation-- a list of the various possible English meanings of every single Chinese character. Don't like something about his answer? Check his math. That's truly definitive. There might be other translations that do that, but I've got a shelf full of ones that don't, and I'm glad to say my search is finally over. I'm giving this book a perfect score. It's a good place to start AND a good place to finish.
On reading the table of contents for both editions I discovered that what Star's publishers appear to have done is to reissue the translation section of his original 2003 book without all the extra and very helpful information he had provided in the early edition.
My advice is to go and check out the 2003 edition before you commit to this later, less definitive, work.
Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition (2003)
If you feel the same way, then Jonathan Star has come to your rescue with /Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition/. It starts out with an overview of Lao Tzu's work and the challenges that come with translating it. Then there is a rather good literary translation by the author, which sometimes takes a bit of artistic license - definitely not a bad thing. This is not the meat of the book, however. That part is the "definitive" translation itself - the literal translation. Every character of every chapter is provided, along with multiple possible meanings. Using this, you can compose your own interpretations of your favorite chapters, or the whole book if you wish.
The literal translation is extremely well done, and provided in a very accessible format that provides a lot of information in an easy to use manner. If I had to pick something to gripe about, it would be the fact that the literal translation uses Wade-Giles instead of Pinyin (this from a book with a 2001 copyright). I suppose this was to keep things consistent with the similarly old-style spellings "Tao", "Lao-Tzu", etc. This niggle is mitigated a bit by the concordance section of the book, which includes translations from Wade-Giles to Pinyin.Read more ›
Star's own translation is flowing and beautiful, though not word-for-word unadorned,like, say Red Pine's. There are phrases in Star's translation that don't even appear in the Chinese text, but he does this intelligently and purposefully, illuminating the nuances of meaning of the text. Star draws a lot from other languages and teaching (especially Sanskrit and great teachers from India) in his comments about the meanings of key concepts. A purist may object to this; I weigh each on its own merit and found them complimentary.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A truly superb translation, with the opportunity to take the original Chinese and make your own version of this spiritual masterpiece.Published 26 days ago by Davis
This is a wonderful book that I'll turn to again and again. The lessons are true and real, very close to my heart.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
well and concisely written. I like the breakdown of alternative translations so you can understand better the difficulties of translating from Chinese to English.Published 2 months ago by Dan Danielson
Exactly what I was looking for. Accurate translation plus the possibility to try to make your own interpretation. The commentary is also great.Published 5 months ago by Iván Alejandro Cancino
Best version of the Tao I have read. Most of the book is made up of translation tables, gicing you more insight on how they arrived at this version of the Tao. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Eric D. Hunter