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Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Paragon House; 1st.Edition edition (April 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557782385
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557782380
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Yet another translation of the Tao Te Ching would seem unnecessary, but this new one has considerably more depth than other recent efforts. It incorporates material from newly discovered texts and examines critically both the variant readings of the several source texts and past translations of the often cryptic original. Following each chapter with a detailed analysis, and offering an extensive glossary and bibliography, it discusses authorship, date, and purpose of the Tao Te Ching. The overall thrust is to depict this work as a unified religious document, a guide to re-integrating the social with the natural that is worthy of modern study. In fact, Chen initially intended to call her book The Idea of Peace in Classical Taoism. For serious readers of Chinese religion and philosophy.
- Donald J. Pearce, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Duluth
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"The finest translation of the Tao I’ve found...I’ve read 30 translations of the Tao Te Ching, and Ellen Chen’s is easily the finest. It is not just that the Tao is itself a book of deep insight and wisdom. Ms. Chen’s translation is simply enormously more insightful and, well, right on, than anyone else’s. Each chapter is a little masterpiece; the wisdom contained in the Tao simply shines much more brightly through Ms. Chen’s translation than through anyone else’s that I’ve read (I’ve read all of the readily-available translations). Each chapter comes with extensive commentary, where the author respectfully discusses alternate readings for the chapter, including her rationale for her particular choice. These discussions themselves are enormously helpful in bringing out both the subtleties of the text and that ineffable quality of which the text itself speaks."—Dave Schultz, from Richmond, CA

"...a thorough, generally well-balanced, and highly informative work of scholarship."—Journal of Ecumenical Studies

"In this timely reinterpretation, Chen sketches the ecological relationship ‘conducive to establishing peace on earth among all creatures’ and stresses the lesson that the text has for our current imperiled world situation."—Choice

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Very full and valuable detailed comments.
tepi
I've read ~30 translations of the Tao Te Ching, and Ellen Chen's is easily the finest.
Dave Schultz (dschultz@personalgenie.com)
I highly recommend it if you want to get deep into the subject.
M. Jones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 83 people found the following review helpful By tepi on May 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Tao Te Ching: A New Translation With Commentary. Translated and edited by Ellen M. Chen. New York: Paragon House, 1989. Paperback, 274 pages. ISBN 1557782385

Although I must have collected upwards of twenty different editions of the Tao Te Ching over the years, Ellen M. Chen's has always stood at the top of my list and it's a shame this truly wonderful edition isn't better known.

Chen, who is a Professor of Philosophy at St. John's University in Jamaica, New York, is not your usual sort of scholar, the type who views ancient wisdom texts as a mere quarry for materials. In contrast to the sterile type of academic who pride themselves on a purely illusory 'scientific objectivity,' Chen is a dynamic and concerned personality who seems utterly committed to trying to get the world to see the fantastic importance and value of the Tao Te Ching.

For her, in fact, the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching is a wisdom that could save us from the utter ruin the human race is heading for, if only we would start to take that wisdom seriously. Hers is a wise, well-written, thoroughly researched work which rises way above the usual run of scholarship, and it is far too rich for me to be able to do justice to it here.

Briefly the work falls into three parts. First we are given a full and quite unique 48-page Introduction in three chapters: 1. Date and Authorship of the Tao Te Ching; 2. The Tao Te Ching as a Religious Treatise; and 3. Use and Translation of the Text. Chapter 2, which is divided into six sections, is a minor masterpiece, and even if you don't intend to acquire the book, you should certainly read her 'Humans Become Gods on Earth,' 'Two Pseudo-Religions of the Twentieth Century,' and 'Religion For or Against Life' (pages 31-39).
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
The book by Ellen Chen is outstanding for the completeness and clarity of its comments. Anyone who is at all serious about studying the Tao Te Ching needs to read several interpretations to get an idea of just how ambiguous the original text is. One translation is simply not adequate. You will find that different chapters seem to be translated more fittingly by different references. No one author will convey the message most convincingly to you for every single chapter, and what is best for you may not be best for me.
I first compiled my favored, composite translation of the Tao Te Ching 23 years ago. At that time I relied mostly on the translations (and commentary) of Wing-Tsit Chan and Lin Yutang, although I used about 8 references altogether. I recently checked out of the library three new translations, including the one by Chen, in order to compare them with the earlier works. As I delved into Chen's book I became more and more impressed by her translation, and especially by her commentary. Although for me, Wing-Tsit Chan still has the more consistently preferred translation, I am learning much more from Chen's commentary than I ever learned from other works. I think it is a shame that her book is seldom cited in lists of "best translations" of the Tao Te Ching. Her work is far more penetrating and lucid than all the favorites.
Even if you finally decide of a particular section that you prefer another translation to Chen's, you will learn much from her explanations. I'm going to buy my own copy when I return the one I have to the library!
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Cecil Touchon on June 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Like Dave in the other commentary I have read all available versions of the Tao te Ching with an eye at writing an artist version of it to explore a way for artists to give a spiritual context to their artisticactivity. I also run A Cherag's Library and have a wide ranging familiarity with sacred texts in general. I found Ellen Chen's work so extraordinary in terms of quality and sensitivity and depth and clarity that, for my personal study of The Tao te Ching, it is the ONLY version that I keep close to me for study and inspiration. When you read a lot of translations of this book it becomes clear that each translator has their own agenda, their own weaknesses and strengths and they can lead a text in many different directions. I came to have a great respect in this regard for this work by Ms Chen. It is the best.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schultz (dschultz@personalgenie.com) on October 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've read ~30 translations of the Tao Te Ching, and Ellen Chen's is easily the finest. It is not just that the Tao is itself a book of deep insight and wisdom. Ms. Chen's translation is simply enormously more insightful and, well, right on, than anyone else's. Each chapter is a little masterpiece; the wisdom cointained in the Tao simply shines much more brightly through Ms. Chen's translation than through anyone else's that I've read (I've read all of the readily-available translations). Each chapter comes with extensive commentary, where the author respectfully discusses alternate readings for the chapter, including her rationale for her particular choice. These discussions themselves are enormously helpful in bringing out both the subtleties of the text and that ineffable quality of which the text itself speaks. Translations of the Tao vary greatly in quality. Do yourself a favor. Whether you're buying your first copy of the Tao or your 10th, don't just buy any translation, buy this one.
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