Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Perennial Classics) Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 252 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0061142666
ISBN-10: 0061142662
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  • Length: 146 pages
  • Word Wise: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


“I have read many translations of this ancient text but Mitchell’s is by far the best.” (James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces)


"Mitchell's rendition of the "Tao Te Ching comes as close to being definitive for our time as any I can imagine. It embodies the virtues its translator credits to the Chinese original: a gemlike lucidity that is radiant with humor, grace, largeheartedness, and deep wisdom."-- Huston Smith, author of "The Religions of Man""Mitchell's great talent is to communicate with the profound simplicity utterly appropriate for this task. The obscure has been made transparent and available."-- "Common Boundary""Beautiful and accessible; the English, as 'fluid as melting ice, ' is a joy to read throughout."-- "The New Republic"

Product Details

  • File Size: 622 KB
  • Print Length: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Publication Date: October 13, 2009
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003SHDM8O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,584 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read a few different versions of translation of Tao Te Ching including translations by some Chinese and Korean scholars. Evem I am not a Chinese scholar, I studied and used Chinese characters over twenty years in Korea like most Korean students. I agree that Stephen Mitchell's book is not the best if you are looking for literal translation of the original ancient Chinese Toa Te Ching. But the literal translation often does not make sence to me and to the most readers in English speaking countries. Even among Chinese scholars there are many different opinions about the true meaning or interpretations of the original Tao Te Ching because it was written more than a thousand years ago in ancient Chinese.

Tao Te Ching is written by "Noza". In Chinese character "Noza" means an old man. "Old men" in oriental countries are very respectable. But in America "Old men" is not as respectable as in China. So how could you interepret "Noza" in English? Tao Te Ching is written by an old man literally. But better translation could be: "Toa Te Ching" is written by an "Old Wise Man", "Sage", or "Master" instead of (senile) old man.

If you, as a serious student, are looking for the literal translation of the original Tao Te Ching, you'd better read a few different translations by Chinese scholars. But if you are looking for a book to learn Tao Te Ching's intent and spirit, I have not found any other English translation smoother than Mitchell's.
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Format: Paperback
Next to the Bible, the most translated book in the world is the Tao Te Ching, the ancient Chinese Book of the Way. It lays the philosophical foundations for one of the world's great wisdom traditions, Taoism. Written approximately 2,500 years ago by the legendary sage Lao Tzu, this classic continues to inspire readers today. To translate a work that has been translated so many times before--and so well--may seem almost an act of hubris. But as the English language continues to evolve, it is the duty of the translator to attempt to restate a classic for his or her generation, in a language that they can best understand. Stephen Mitchell, in Tao Te Ching: A New English Version, has done that for our generation. And to him we owe a debt of gratitude. Huston Smith has called this translation "definitive," and he has spoken well. At first, a traditionalist may be startled by, for instance, Mitchell's referring to the master as alternately "he" and "she;" whereas, the original refers to the master as masculine, only, thereby reflecting the truth of things in sixth century B.C. China. But when one remembers that the translator is duty-bound to bring the ideas of the text to his or her contemporaries in a way that will have most meaning for them, then one can see the wisdom of taking such a liberty. And, after all, it is in the spirit of Taoism to adapt to the circumstance. As water sometimes comes to earth in the form of rain, sometimes snow, and sometimes sleet, but always in accord with the season, so this classic comes to us now in a form that is right for our own day. Thus, once again, this time with the help of Stephen Mitchell, the Tao Te Ching speaks to humanity, pointing the way.
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Format: Hardcover
I am neither a Taoist, nor a philosopher, nor a seeker; I'm Christian. But I read widely and with an open mind. In other words, I am not approaching this book as scripture, but as another of my broad readings.

I have another translation of Mitchell's, "Dropping Ashes on the Buddha." My interest in wisdom literature, coupled with my delightful experience with the other Mitchell translation in my collection, prompted me to pick up this copy of the Tao and browse it in a bookstore. When I read that Mitchell paraphrased the original language (for which there are excellent precedents in other wisdom texts), I compared a few of the stanzas with other, more literal translations. There are substantial differences between Mitchell's paraphrase and other translations. If that is important to you, then pass on this version.

That said, there are positive aspects of this book I'd like to share. The language is beautiful and poetic. Mitchell captures, in English, the essence of what Lao Tzu was thinking and writing in Chinese centuries ago, at least from what I can tell. As a dilettante in wisdom literature, this book fills the niche I wanted nicely. There is plenty to think about and meditate on. If that is what you seek, then this book can fill that need.
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Format: Paperback
I respect Mitchell. I've read quite a bit of his work on various classics.
But, here I would have to say that this presentation of the Tao is not very inspiring. It's good, but not great.
The Tao, after all, is not simply a philosophical work, though it has that aspect. Rather, I see it primarily as a work of the spirit meant to actually be applied to living. In my experience, that is how most Taoists see it.
I recommend that you read this instead: Tao Te Ching, 25th-Anniversary Edition (English and Mandarin Chinese Edition) by Lao Tzu, Jane English and Gia-Fu Feng (Mar 4, 1997) - Deluxe Edition (or the more recently updated edition). The foreword, introduction and notes by Lippe and Needleman are well worth your perusal.
In this version, the spirit of the original is not lost. Therefore, the reader will not be misguided.
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