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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The second classic of Taoism, March 24, 2004
This review is from: Zhuangzi: Basic Writings (Paperback)
This is a very different book than the Lao Tzu. It's written in a much less poetic style, but I find Zhuangzi more readable for that reason. The style is more conversational, and well rendered into contemporary English by Burton Watson.
These inner chapters contain only the core of a much longer work. Over the 2200 years since its writing, many accretions had crept into the work, including commentaries and addenda by other authors. Watson strips those away and leaves only the central and most vivid writings. Some of those may already be familiar to today's reader. For example, this book originates the man dreaming to be a butterfly dreaming to be a man. Zhuangzi offers many more of these anecdotes, too long to be analogies but too short for fables. He also calls on the history and mythology of his time - not always distinct from each other - and creates mythology of his own, whether he meant to or not.
That mythology lived on in Chinese alchemy, when Zhuangzi's magical sages were taken as literal beings. Zhuangzhi lived on, too, in Taoism's eventual alignment with Buddhism. His cryptic, non sequitur style of answer seems to foreshadow the koans of the distinctly Chinese and Japanese schools of Buddhism.
This is a wonderful complement to the Lao Tzu. If that book is the art of enlightenment, then this is more like the practical craft. I recommend it highly to any student of eastern classics.
I must add that Zhuangzi is a more recent romanization of "Chuang Tzu" - different renderings of one name. It is easy to become confused and think that the two were different writers. It is especially confusing since Watson published this same material many years ago under the "Chuang Tzu" spelling, and now as "Zhuangzi." While I have the highest respect Burton's scholarship, I think that this difference-without-a-difference should be made more explicit.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Zhuangzi for everyone, January 25, 2012
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Eric Maroney (Trumansburg, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zhuangzi: Basic Writings (Paperback)
The Zhaungzi is one of the two most important Daoist texts in the Chinese tradition, but it gets short shrift next to its cousin, the Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing). One of the reasons is the length of the Zhaungzi. It has none of the brevity and conciseness of the Tao Te Ching. It is a collection of many materials, of varying quality and authenticity, often in the same passage.

That is why Burton Watson's translation of the Zhuangzi is so useful. He has culled through the text, and presented us with only the very best material. This, coupled with his fine introduction and notes on the translation, give us a Zhuangzi that is both easy to read, interesting and smooth flowing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zhuangzi and Dao de Jing, December 31, 2013
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This review is from: Zhuangzi: Basic Writings (Paperback)
Considered the two primary texts of Daoism, Zhuangzi and the Dao de Jing are both getting at the same thing. However, I personally found Zhuangzi to be more humorous, story-like, and enjoyable (not that the Dao de Jing is not wholly incredible and unique~ it's really unfair to compare the two, but nonetheless).
Watson includes the inner chapters and outer chapters, getting the 'basic writings' covered and leaving the reader with a sound essence of the Dao. The stories may be puzzling to someone unfamiliar with Daoism, Zen, or the 'enlightened mind'. However, if one's mind is ripe for this kind of wisdom, the stories contain wonderful messages and good humor.
I recommend this to anyone interested in Eastern religion, mysticism, natural living, 'enlightenment', or Chinese philosophy. I read this book for a course on Eastern Religion and Philosophy and enjoyed it so much that my professor suggested reading the entirety of Zhuangzi. So if you enjoy this, good news.. there's more!
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great, just wha I ordered, March 14, 2013
By 
Ummi (San Diego, Ca) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zhuangzi: Basic Writings (Paperback)
Great book!!!!!! just what I ordered..This book was needed for class & has a wonderful and interesting perspective!! thank you!
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1 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a gift, May 17, 2010
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Jerry (Warwick, RI) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zhuangzi: Basic Writings (Paperback)
This book was purchased as a gift for someone who was very pleased with it since it is hard to get this edition, so it was worth it.
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Zhuangzi: Basic Writings
Zhuangzi: Basic Writings by Zhuangzi (Paperback - April 15, 2003)
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