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Gate of All Marvelous Things : A Guide to Reading the Tao Te Ching Paperback – May 1, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: China Books & Periodicals; 1 edition (May 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891688006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891688003
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 10.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,061,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Readers who are unfamiliar with Classical Chinese are sometimes frankly puzzled as to why different translators, working on the same text, can come up with such widely differing translations. But to fully understand why this can happen, it would of course be necessary to learn Chinese.
Basically it has to do with the fact that the grammar of Ancient Chinese is as yet imperfectly understood. Another important reason is that the Chinese character or graph cannot really be equated with an English 'word' - they're very different animals. English words can change their form, as in 'run, runs, running, ran,' but graphs have a fixed form and can't do this.
Additionally, graphs will often have a far wider range of meanings than English words. This makes for a language with richer connotations. It's a beautiful language and I don't think that anyone who may be thinking of taking it up will be sorry if they do. Everyone should have at least a little Chinese. Even a little can provide a lot of fun.
One of the reasons I've always loved Classical Chinese is because it's an extremely concise and powerful language, a language of great masculine vigor, and one of the first things I look for in any translation from Classical Chinese is a comparable economy and energy. Some people don't seem to understand this, and I think it's because they fail to realize that words, besides expressing meaning, can also serve to limit meaning, especially in grammatically fussy Indo-European languages such as English where sentences are intended to convey as precise a meaning as possible and in doing so can become (as mine are here) rather wordy.
But ancient Chinese writing isn't like this.
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By A Customer on April 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you want to understand the Tao Te Ching, I think it is essential to know the original Chinese. I'm not a scholar of ancient Chinese, but going through the text line by line, character by character, has helped me greatly. The glosses on the text are straightforward and clear, and are enabling me to write my own version. I recommend this book for those interested in going a little deeper into one of the great documents in Chinese (and world) philosophy.
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Format: Paperback
By providing an interliner format of: Chinese characters, their corresponding pinyin, and a one-word definition for each (tied together by a literal yet readable translation), GATE gives English-speaking students access to all resource materials keyed to pinyin -- while surreptitiously teaching grammar and vocabulary in the process.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book presents a modern (1990) text of this ancient classic, in simplified characters, with line division and punctuation done according to the translator's own (unexplained) preferences.
The body of the book consists of a line of Chinese text, a line of Pinyin romanization of the character text, a line of English word-for-character equivalents, and an easy-reading English text with words corresponding to the characters in upper case, and the additional words needed for easy reading in lower case.
The whole thing is preceded by a brief pronunciation guide, which in turn is preceded by a brief (5-page) introduction that says a little bit about the text and the translator's approach to it. At the end, there is a page with four references to web sites with more information.
There is no discussion of the grammar, no discussion of the nature or history of the text, no real discussion of the language or vocabulary -- and no pointers to books that would be useful for someone who wanted to learn about what is going on with this text. There is not even a hint that there is a difference between modern standard written Chinese and the language of the Dao De Jing. The translator mentions choosing from among various possibilities when selecting the English words to place under the Chinbese characters, but does not provide reasons other than personal taste for his choices.
This book would be useful for someone with little or no knowledge of Chinese who had a mild curiosity about this text that has been rendered in so many ways. It might also be a useful gift for a young teen or bright pre-teen with an interest in Taoism, or things Chinese, as a kind of enticement to future study. An undergraduate taking Chinese might find it useful as a crib.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have six English translations of the Tao Te Ching and they are all different, often dramatically so.
If you are really interested in Taoism, this book will help you get closer to the original feel of it, even if you don't read Chinese.
There are four lines for every original line:
the Chinese characters,
the phonetic transliteration,
the literal word for word English translation,
and an expanded translation that sounds more like regular English.
You will see how incredibly terse and dense it is and how ambiguous it can be,
Compare it with any mainstream translation you like, you will see how liberal the translators have been in filling out and interpreting and expanding beyond what's there in the original.
And you will be able to create your own versions.
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