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Wandering on the Way: Early Taoist Tales and Parables of Chuang Tzu Paperback – January 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of Hawaii Pr (January 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082482038X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824820381
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Chinese

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Customer Reviews

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A wonderful text and superb translation.
Heike Uhlig
I dare you to buy it and read it, and dare you to find meaning reflected in your own life.
Jwilly
This book compares favourably to other translations of Chuang Tzu I have read.
Guy W. Salvidge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Guy W. Salvidge on October 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book. Mair explains his methods in his introduction; he claims that Chuang Tzu is a literary writer first and a philosopher second. As such, Mair aims to capture the inimitable style of Master Chuang, whom he claims created new ways of expressing oneself in Chinese. The resulting text is a fabulously refreshing collection of parables, which seems to contain the essence of philosophical Taoism. Chuang Tzu has much to teach us about the utility of uselessness, the interchangeable nature of the large and small, and my favourite teaching, the futility of 'guarding against thieves.' Chuang Tzu explains in chapter 10 'Ransacking Coffers' that people who go to great lengths to guard against thieves are just preparing things for the 'great robber.' This seems to have something to say about the nature of capitalism, especially in this era of corporate takeovers and the like. Chuang Tzu is an antidote for modern life.

Mair includes the complete text of Chuang Tzu, not limiting himself to the 'Inner Chapters' (which are regarded as being actually written by Chuang Tzu). He includes the 'Outer' and 'Miscellaneous Chapters', many of which Mair claims are the equal or superior of the Inner Chapters. Each chapter is prefaced by a note giving context to the authorship of the chapter. For instance, Mair regards some of the chapters as being written by Confucianists who have somehow wormed their way into Chuang Tzu over the centuries.

This book compares favourably to other translations of Chuang Tzu I have read. My first exposure to Chuang came in Burton Watson's translation of the Inner Chapters, and while I have not read this book for many years, it was Watson who convinced me of the necessity to study this quasi-historical figure.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By M. Hori on March 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Though Burton Watson's translation comes a close second, this version is the absolute best English translation I have found. Mair includes the "rhyming prose" the poetry and lots of the zaniness that somehow gets passed over in other translations. For those wishing to have more notes Mair generously refers them to his writings in the Sino-Platonic Papers. Mair is second to none in his understanding of archaic Chinese and takes us back to the truly revolutionary collection of writings that Chuang Tzu really is.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Elliot Knapp on April 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Chuang Tzu (rendered Zhuangzi in pinyin, which is becoming the standard transliteration these days) is second only to Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching in its popularity and veneration in the Taoist world. If you've not heard of or read this book before, you're in for a real treat! The first time I read the Inner Chapters of the Chuang Tzu was like a revelation--the thoughts and ideas expressed in these passages still resonate today for their acuity, humor, satire, stabbing profundity, and life-changing potential. Indeed, after better understanding the thought this book expresses, I felt like so many loose ideas and insights I'd gleaned from other philosophy, literature, music, and poetry had been tied up together and formulated into a concise and elegant package that is urgently relevant to every day life--pretty amazing for a text that is well over 2000 years old!

I recently finished reading Mair's translation of the Chuang Tzu--it was the third complete translation I've read, and while I found that it accurately conveys the spirit and ideas of the Chuang Tzu, it doesn't get my vote for best translation. As a side note, I chose Mair's Chuang Tzu translation after being very impressed by his excellent and illuminating rendering of the Tao Te Ching. As he states in his introduction, Mair's mission in translating the Chuang Tzu is to convey the fact that it is primarily a literary classic (as opposed to a philosophical classic), and rather than expose it to philosophical scrutiny, his desire is to provide the most philologically-accurate translation possible, attempting to translate both the exact words of the Chinese, but also the exact style of the writing (poetry vs. prose, etc.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
It's a fresh and scholarly translation, but also potentially controversial, since a few sections of the text have been deleted (even from the Inner Chapters). The deletions are not noted in the main text (the general reader will be unaware of them) or clearly explained. They can be found in the "Deleted Passages" appendix at the end of the book. Some translations are unconventional, like "look after your parents" (Watson) in the beginnig of chapter 3, is translated by Victor Mair as "Nourish your inmost viscera"; it would be interesting to know why. I would look forward to another edition with notes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Heike Uhlig on November 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
A wonderful text and superb translation. Witty, literary, and thought-provoking, this is a book one can return to again and again over the years.
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