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Yuan Dao: Tracing Dao to Its Source (Classics of Ancient China) (English and Chinese Edition) Paperback – July 13, 1998

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Is it a backhanded compliment to recommend a book more for its introduction than for the main text itself? Not if the introduction turns out to be twice the length of the text, as it is in Lau and Ames's collaboration Yuan Dao. The first chapter of the early Chinese Taoist text Huainanzi, Yuan Dao is similar to the Tao Te Ching in its elaboration of the natural Tao and the actions (or inaction) of the sage. It is worth reading for its limpid lyricism alone. With Ames's prefatory remarks, not only the text, but the whole of early Chinese thought comes more into focus. The reason we see ancient Chinese works as wisdom literature is that the Chinese were more interested in the how of the world than the what of it, and so Ames takes Yuan Dao as a jumping-off point for examining a world-view that contrasts sharply with ours but is still surprisingly modern. The original author (or sponsor) of Yuan Dao lost his life partly because it is a work that proposed pluralism and noncoercion in a time of forced consolidation. In our time, this message rings still rings true. --Brian Bruya

From Library Journal

In this masterly and first-ever translation of the Taoist text from the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.) known as Yuan Dao, we find a most welcome addition to the corpus in English of Taoist texts. As translated by Lau, noted interpreter of Chinese philosophy, and Ames (Chinese philosophy, Univ. of Hawaii), also a prolific and respected translator and author on Chinese thought, the language is straightforward yet elegant, the rendition true to all the subtlety of the original. Written around 140 B.C.E., Yuan Dao is a direct descendent of the better-known earlier Taoist texts, the Tao Te Ching and the Chuang-Tzu. Its main tenet is the efficacy of accommodation, as described in the translators' erudite introduction, and which is worthy of study in its own right and manages to interweave the essentials of the text with a succinct explanation of Han linguistic and political principles. The translation is printed on facing pages with the Chinese original, further enhancing the utility of the text. An important document, this work will be of interest especially to Sinologists and devotees of Taoism.?D.E. Perushek, Northwestern Univ. Lib., Evanston, IL
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Classics of Ancient China
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (July 13, 1998)
  • Language: English, Chinese
  • ISBN-10: 0345425685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345425683
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Steven Savage on March 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
In my opinion, this document is of equal standing with the Chuang-Tzu and the Lieh-Tzu in importance, and as a compilation of thought, in a way more important as these documents as an overview of Taoist thought.
Having read a more obscure translation earler, I found this translation to be delightfully accessible and clear. There are excellent notes, summaries, explanations, and histories to compliment the document. I wish they had been present in the earlier translation I had dug up.
After reading the Tao Te Ching, read this before moving on to the Chuang-Tzu, Lieh-Tzu, or any other Taoist document. It's worth it - and in the spirit of Lao-Tzu, not too long or wordy.
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Format: Paperback
Besides the Yuan Dao's enormous historical and philosophical value, the introduction to the Yuan Dao is the most important introduction to taoist thought that has been written in many years. It clearly defines the essential differences between the way Taoist and Western philosophies think.
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Format: Paperback
There are no real faults with this book. The Introduction is interesting. An essential book for those seriously interested in the Daoist Perspective.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This small pb book, trans. D. C. Lau and Roger T. Ames (Ballantine, 1998), has only 147 pages, but it has a good bibliography and notes. Basically, it's divided between an Introduction by Ames and the Chinese- English texts of Part Two: Tracing Dao to Its Source. The longish Introduction by Ames is scholarly and sage in explaining how early Han Chinese thought led to Tao Te Ching, Taoism, as well as continuing influence in China today.
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Format: Paperback
A very deep book which has authentic message. This is something to re-read several times and contemplate. This is not light reading, nor an introduction.
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