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The Classic of the Way and Virtue: A New Translation of the Tao-te Ching of Laozi as Interpreted by Wang Bi (Translations from the Asian Classics) Paperback – March 24, 2004


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The Classic of the Way and Virtue: A New Translation of the Tao-te Ching of Laozi as Interpreted by Wang Bi (Translations from the Asian Classics) + The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi (Translations from the Asian Classic)
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Product Details

  • Series: Translations from the Asian Classics
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (March 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231105819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231105811
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 4.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #780,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The most translated Chinese classic is here given another translation filtered through the commentary of Wang Bi (226-249), renowned for his brilliant but direct approach to many Chinese works. Originally intended as guidance for rulers, the Tao-te Ching became a guide for living in accordance with the Way (Tao). The 81 sections, divided into two parts, usually have a few lines (sometimes just one) followed by Wang Bi's comment, often discussing the meaning of a word romanized from the Chinese. Notes follow each section. Scholars with a knowledge of Chinese will find this text informative and interesting, but others may be annoyed at the scholarly apparatus. More accessible translations are those by Witter Bynner, Robert G. Hendricks, D.C. Lau, Arthur Waley, and the poet and sf writer Ursula Le Guin, among many others. Nevertheless, Lynn (East Asian studies, Univ. of Alberta), who has also translated The Classic of Changes (LJ 9/1/94), does a very able job. Recommended for academic libraries with Asian studies sections.AKitty Dean Chen, Nassau Coll., Garden City, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Lynn's translation is excellent. He approaches Wang Bi's text as it should be approached, that is as a piece of philosophical writing... [A]n important contribution to our knowledge of commentarial methodology which played a dominating role throughout the intellectual history of imperial China.

(Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia)

Lynn's translation is finely crafted, following the high standard he established in his The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi... [An] excellent, high-impact stud[y].

(Alan K. L. Chan Journal of Chinese Religions)

...Wang Bi challenges us to appreciate the many paradoxes in the Tao-te Ching and to warmly embrace its wisdom in the ordinary rounds of our everyday lives.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I just got this and it has instantly become my favorite translation. It seemed to click. Add to that the fact that it is more than just the author's interpretation. He includes explanations from people other than himself to try and milk out as much depth as possible using words. Considering the Tao is a wordless form of teaching, these words are wonderful.
Do yourself a favor and add this to your balance of translations. If you don't have one, this is a great place to start.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"~Finally, a full translation of the Wang Bi commentary. Lynn's translation of the Daode jing itself is nothing new (though it's nice to see many key terms bracketed in Chinese as they appear, and some passages are translated in a fresh and insightful way), but the introduction and commentary by Wang Bi are every bit as brilliant as I'd been led to believe. You cannot fail to gain a deeper understanding of this seminal Taoist text from Wang's commentaries."~ fair, and nonjudgmental throughout, a rare quality in Taoist studies, also providing an extensive bibliography, glossary, and index, in addition to an excellent introduction. This is _the_ best scholarly translation of the Daode jing I have seen.This is not some phony ancient Chinese justification of libertarianism, or think a translation of the DDJ has to be particularly beautiful and poetic to be meaningful (not that there's anything wrong with sounding poetic! it just misses the point of the DDJ), you simply can't go wrong with this book. Thanks to R. Lynn for making this available to all of us who cannot read Classical Chinese. I will not be surprised if this book is someday considered an authoritative translation.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By BlueJay54 on June 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This latest translation of the Chinese Taoist Classic is a dry and lifeless specimen, not surprising from a man whose translation of the I Ching was praised for "having no truck with 'timeless wisdom.'" (back cover blurb). This volume's claim to fame, beyond its slim and attractive appearance, is the complete translation of Wang Bi, a 23 year old commentator from 3rd century CE China. To determine whether this translation is for you, you should know that Wang Bi had a strong inclination toward political interpretation, a proclivity probably due to the "high official status and prestige" of his family and their role in government and politics [p. 9], a trend furthered by his great-uncle's "Treatise on Keeping One's Person Safe"-which begins by making government secure [p. 10]. (Now there's a Chinese virtue, eh?) Consider also Wang Bi's answer as to why Confucius never spoke of nothingness while Lao Tzu spoke of it incessantly (as the Mother of the Ten Thousand Things etc.): "The Sage [Confucius] embodied nothingness so he also knew that it could not be explained in words....Master Lao...constantly discussed nothingness...for what he said about it always fell short [p. 12]." Now if you believe that someone who could say that actually knew anything firsthand about the Tao, then this book is for you. And if you are interested in Wang Bi, see Ellen Chen's superb translation/commentary which puts it in perspective. Otherwise, this is a book on Te-social virtue-where the scholarship is impeccable and the feeling is weak. And that's the Way it is!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindlorde on September 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Words cannot describe how excellent this translation and commentary are. This book is worth owning for Wang Bi's commentary alone, which I gather is considered one of the best there is. And it's a wonderful bonus that Richard Lynn's translation is so good and scholarly, with expertly placed and brief footnotes and scholarly interpolations. So, in the interest of letting the text speak for itself, here's one line from the Tao Te Ching followed by Wang Bi's commentary.

"The Dao may be hidden and nameless, but it alone is good at bestowing and completing." Here's Wang Bi's commentary: "All these manifestations of excellence are achieved by the Dao. When it exists as an image, it is the great image, but the great image is formless. When it exists as note, it is the great note, but the great note is an inaudible sound. Things are completed by it, but they do not see its form. Thus it is hidden and nameless. When it bestows, this is not limited merely to supplying what something specifically happens to need. Once it makes its bestowal, this is sufficient to make the virtue of that something last until its end. Thus the text says: 'It ... is good at bestowing.' The way it completes things is not like the way the carpenter makes something. With it, not a single thing fails to fulfill its form perfectly. Thus the text says: 'it ... is good at ... completing.'"

In sum, any serious student of the Tao Te Ching in English translation would probably benefit by adding this book to his collection of translations.
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