62 of 77 people found the following review helpful
'Theses are convincing - but deceptive...',
This review is from: Tao Te Ching (Paperback)Although D. C. Lau's edition of the Tao Te Ching has been sitting on my shelves for years, I've never felt particularly drawn to it. In contrast to my well-thumbed copies of Lin Yutang, J. J. L. Duyvendak, Ellen M. Chen, Zen adept Stephen Mitchell, and others, the Lau is still in a relatively pristine condition.
I don't think this is because of the quality of the translation, a translation which, though occasionally a bit wordy, reads well enough in other places. I think it's more because Lau strikes me as a hard-boiled Confucian with a thesis.
Today we are all more than used to theses. The air is thick with them. Given a bit of time, any clever woman or man can easily construct one. But we should never forget what Lu Chi (+ 754-805) reminds us of in his brilliant 'Essay on Literature,' the 'Wen fu,' when he tells us that: 'Theses are convincing - but deceptive...'
Chapter 18 of the Tao Te Ching offers what seems to me to be a perfect comment on thesis books:
"When the body's intelligence declines, / cleverness and knowledge step forth" (tr. Stephen Mitchell).
In Ellen M. Chen the same passage reads: "When intelligence (hui) and knowledge (chih) appear, / There is great artificiality (wei)" (page 99).
And in Lau: "When cleverness emerges / There is great hypocrisy" (page 74).
Many readers will probably find that Lau's edition suits them well enough for their purposes, but those who might prefer an edition which is not merely scholarly but also sympathetic might take a look at Professor Ellen M. Chen's 'The Tao Te Ching - A New Translation with Commentary' (New York: Paragon House, 1989 ISBN 1-55778-238-5). I think that for your money you'll be getting a little more than "cleverness."