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Tao Te Ching: Text Only Edition [Kindle Edition]

Lao Tsu , Jacob Needleman , Jane English , Gia-Fu Feng , Toinette Lippe
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $11.05
You Save: $2.95 (21%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

For nearly two generations, this translation of the Tao Te Ching has been the standard for those seeking access to the wisdom of Taoist thought. Now Jane English and her long-time editor, Toinette Lippe, have refreshed and revised the translation, so that it more faithfully reflects the Classical Chinese in which it was first written, while taking into account changes in our own language and eliminating any lingering infelicities.
Lao Tsu’s philosophy is simple: Accept what is in front of you without wanting the situation to be other than it is. Study the natural order of things and work with it rather than against it, for to try to change what is only sets up resistance. Nature provides everything without requiring payment or thanks. It does so without discrimination. So let us present the same face to everyone and treat them all as equals, however they may behave. If we watch carefully, we will see that work proceeds more quickly and easily if we stop “trying,” if we stop putting in so much extra effort, if we stop looking for results. In the clarity of a still and open mind, truth will be reflected. Te—which may be translated as “virtue” or “strength”—lies always in Tao meaning “the way” or “natural law.” In other words: Simply be.

Editorial Reviews


"No one has done better in conveying Lao Tsu's simple and laconic style of writing, so as to produce an English version almost as suggestive of the many meanings intended. This is a most useful, as well as beautiful, volume—and what it has to say is exactly what the world, in its present state, needs to hear." —Alan Watts

Language Notes

Text: English, Chinese (translation)

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars clean tao April 1, 2001
By A Customer
This is the translation of The Tao that woke me up, made sense to me in a way no other translation had. It doesn't have the "wrought" feeling that most poetic translations have. I didn't feel the translator behind the words, and I could picture The Old Guy, sitting on his hill, writing this down.
Moreover, the introduction by Needleman, missing in the 25-year edition , is stunning, particularly in his explanation of "virtue" as a verb, an act rather than an ideal. I'd trade the photos, however beautiful, for this introduction.
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105 of 115 people found the following review helpful
I was born and raised in China and have lived in the US for over 20 years (came in my adulthood). I have liked the philosophical Taoism (please don't confuse it with the religious Taoism, which started much later with quite different belief systems) since my late teens. And I have been interested in the art of translation for some years.

I just compared a few lines of the English translation of this version (by Gai-Fu Feng, Jane English) with the one by John C. H. Wu (1899-1986, according to Wikipedia), published in 1961, and started to notice some differences. For example, at the beginning of chapter 2, in this book it translates:

"Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty because there is ugniness.
All can see good as good only because there is evil."

While in John C. H. Wu's translation, there two lines go as:

"When all the world recognizes beauty as beauty,
this in itself is ugliness.
When all the world recognizes good as good, this in itself is evil."

I feel the John C. H. Wu's version is much more accurate or closer to the meaning of the original Chinese text.

Another example, in Chapter 7, the last three lines:

"The wise stay behind, and are thus ahead.
They are detached, thus at one with all.
Through selfless act, they they attain fulfillment."

John C. H. Wu's translation goes as:

"Therefore, the Sage wants to remain behind,
But finds himself at the head of others;
Reckons himself out,
But finds himself safe and secure.
Is it not because he is selfless
That his Self is realized?"

Here I feel Wu's version is more accurate, and shows much better understanding of the ancient Chinese culture and philosophy.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful translation March 18, 2006
I have always found the Tao Te Ching to be a very clear guide for life. I own a few different translations and this is the one that I always come back to. It is translated with a poetic style that highlights the simplicity of the way. Because you can plumb this work to any depth of understanding you want, anything more than the minimal bacground would be arbitrary.

Also, I am probably alone here, but I recommend the book without the pictures, which I think artificially establish a mood that may not be appropriate for the chapter you're working through.

I would also emphasize that this translation is not for scholars. It does not contain a great deal of commentary or references to the myriad ways a given word or phrase could be translated.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple is best. December 30, 2006
By R. Sohi
Of the many translations of the Tao Te Ching I've read, this is the one I consider to be the finest. It's not scholarly (for that Ellen M. Chen's version is worth looking at), it's not artificially modern (as are the versions by Ursula Le Guin or Stephen Mitchell), it's just a simple clean presentation of the text with a short, but useful, introduction and end notes to flesh out each verse. The introduction and end notes have a decidedly Judeo-Christian slant, which might turn off some readers who want their Tao Te Ching with a purely Eastern flavour, but the translation itself is clear and apparently faithful to the original text.

The book also includes a very handy bibliography that describes the strengths of other available versions.

The other version that I'd strongly recommend is Witter Bynner's "The Way of Life According To Lao Tzu," which is more of an interpretation rather than a straight translation.
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38 of 46 people found the following review helpful
A WARNING: I almost mistakenly purchased the SMALLER paperback edition (approx. 5 inches by 8 inches), rather than the LARGER FORMAT edition I wanted (about 8 inches by eleven inches).

If the price is $6.92, it is the SMALL paperback. If the price is $12.60, it is the LARGER FORMAT paperback, the one which I highly recommend, as I have read it while waiting in a doctor's office, and wished the doctor had made me wait longer, so I could have more time to enjoy it. The LARGE FORMAT BOOK IS THE ONLY ONE I RECOMMEND, as I have not seen the smaller paperback.

A further caution: the Listing at amazon for Tao te Ching translated by Jane English and Gia-Fu Feng....has a place saying "Click here for other Formats". If you do that, two of the "other formats" are actually TOTALLY DIFFERENT TRANSLATIONS (AND of course DO NOT CONTAIN the PHOTOGRAPHS and CALLIGRAPHY of the English/Feng translation).

For potential buyers: be CAREFUL TO BOTH GET THE CORRECT TRANSLATION which you want (I highly recommend the Jane English / Gia Fu-Feng translation as it is by far the best, in my opinion),.....................and be careful also to get the EXACT EDITION of the English / Feng version which you want (I recommend the LARGE paperback, and cannot recommend the SMALL paperback as I am not sure the total effect will be the same with reduced size of type, photographs, and calligraphy....perhaps it would please some readers, I just do not know.)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Just breathe
As with so many books, we endure the scholarly and erudite reviewers who claim to know which text and translation is the most recondite, the most accurate, the most true to the... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Rosh
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great Read, i would recommend
Published 1 month ago by keiton blanding
4.0 out of 5 stars The way for today
Lao Tsu's teachings read like a book of ancient wisdom. It is both traditional and modern, to the extent that it can be applied to today's world, although it seems so remote from... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Pierre Taminiaux
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Item delivered on time, was as described
Published 3 months ago by Bookworm
4.0 out of 5 stars Take your time.
I need more time with this.
Published 3 months ago by Cory
5.0 out of 5 stars Text only edition of the Gia-fu Feng translation
This 1989 edition is a smaller text only version of Gia-fu Feng's great 1972 translation. The original larger format edition (also republished in 1997 as a 25th anniversary... Read more
Published 3 months ago by applewood
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good price and came as described.
Published 4 months ago by Darrell Graves
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by G. B.
4.0 out of 5 stars Tao Te Thing - Lao Tzu - New Lippe edition of the classic Feng and...
The original translation by Gia Fu Feng and Jane English (upon which this is based) was awesome....the best. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Eric Madis
5.0 out of 5 stars best translation I've ever had or seen
best translation I've ever had or seen. I've had this book since 1970's and it is still one of the best and clearest translations. the simplicity of this book beats all the rest. Read more
Published 4 months ago by ironlegs
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More About the Author

I was born in London and began my publishing career there. In 1964 I came to the US and worked at Alfred A. Knopf for thirty-two years, as reprint rights director, while editing the TAO TE CHING, Frederick Franck's THE ZEN OF SEEING, and many other books. In 1989, I founded Bell Tower, an imprint of Crown/Harmony, where I was editorial director and published seventy books I hoped would nourish the soul, illuminate the mind, and speak directly to the heart. These included Thomas Berry's THE GREAT WORK, Stephen Levine's A YEAR TO LIVE, Gunilla Norris's BEING HOME, and Alistair Shearer's THE YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI. My own two books. NOTHING LEFT OVER: A Plain and Simple Life and CAUGHT IN THE ACT: Reflections on Being, Knowing, and Doing, were originally published in 2002 and 2004, and reissued in 2014. I began to study Chinese Brush Painting in 2000 and now teach what I have learned on the Upper West Side of New York City. Discover more on

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Topic From this Discussion
Does the Kindle edition include chinese characters and photographs?
No, there are no illustrations in the kindle edition.
Feb 9, 2012 by Fpetree |  See all 2 posts
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