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Lao Tzu

Author of Tao Te Ching

224+ Works 21,554 Members 304 Reviews 56 Favorited
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About the Author

Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, is considered to be the founder of Taoism. His birth and death dates are uncertain. According to legend, Lao Tzu was keeper of the archives at the imperial court. When he was eighty years old he set out for the western border of China, saddened and disillusioned that show more men were unwilling to follow the path to natural goodness. At the border, he was asked by a border guard to record his teachings before he left. These teachings were compiled into the Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power). (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Disambiguation Notice:

Laozi; Lǎozǐ; Lao tzu; Lao Tse, Laotze, Lao Zi, and other variations. Chinese: 老子

Works by Lao Tzu

Tao Te Ching (0400) 18,336 copies
The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching (2007) — some editions — 118 copies
The Sacred books of China: The texts of Taoism (1962) — Contributor — 63 copies
The Sayings of Lao Tzu (1972) 21 copies
Laotzus Tao and Wu-Wei (2009) 7 copies
The Original Tao Te Ching (2012) 6 copies
El tao de la gracia (2008) 4 copies
The Way of the Ways (1986) 4 copies
The simple way (2006) 4 copies
Der Urtext (2011) 3 copies
La naturalezza (2007) 3 copies
Maestros orientales (1999) 3 copies
La regola celeste (2007) 3 copies
Jenseits des Nennbaren. (1994) 2 copies
Il libro della saggezza (2009) 2 copies
Ogretiler (2017) 2 copies
Tao and war (1977) 2 copies
Wu Wei 2 copies
Yol ve Erdem (2018) 2 copies
The Tao of Power (1997) 2 copies
Texts of Taoism 2 copies
Lao- Tse. (1982) 2 copies
Le tao te king du couple (2012) 2 copies
EL DAO DE JING (2007) 1 copy
Tee väe raamat (2011) 1 copy
Droga (1992) 1 copy
CARTAS DEL TAO (1900) 1 copy
老子 (岩波文庫) (2008) 1 copy
道德经 1 copy
老子译注 1 copy
Tao Te King, Audio-CD (2007) 1 copy
老子註譯及評介 (1987) 1 copy
Tao 2006 Calendar (2005) 1 copy
Tao Teh Ching (2014) 1 copy
Ταο τε κινγκ (2002) 1 copy
The simple way (1913) 1 copy
O Tao Da Graca (2009) 1 copy
Tae Te King 1 copy
Dao de Jing (2007) 1 copy
Esoteric Tao Teh Ching (2013) 1 copy
Wielka księga Tao (2009) 1 copy
Tao Te Ching 1 copy
Healing Poetry (2013) 1 copy
老子全译 (1989) 1 copy

Associated Works


Ancient China (48) anthology (62) Asia (78) Buddhism (101) China (738) Chinese (312) Chinese literature (229) Chinese philosophy (226) classic (97) classics (154) Eastern (87) eastern philosophy (291) eastern religion (68) fiction (46) goodreads (46) history (63) Lao Tzu (337) literature (115) mysticism (71) non-fiction (749) own (71) owned (47) paperback (56) philosophy (2,309) poetry (439) read (142) religion (1,498) sacred texts (96) Scripture (60) spiritual (86) spirituality (597) Tao (464) Tao Te Ching (311) Taoism (2,252) to-read (567) translation (128) unread (81) wisdom (65) World Religions (90) zen (71)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Lao Tzu
Other names
Lǐ Ěr
Lǐ Dān
Tàishàng Lǎojūn
6th century BCE or possibly 4th century BCE
Date of death
6th century BCE or possibly 4th century BCE
Places of residence
Keeper of the Archives
Awards and honors
Táishāng Xuānyuán Huángdì
Disambiguation notice
Laozi; Lǎozǐ; Lao tzu; Lao Tse, Laotze, Lao Zi, and other variations. Chinese: 老子



Three Chinese classics in Philosophy and Theory (March 2023)


These days I usually avoid reading poetry in translation, but some things are unavoidable. It's impossible to recommend just one translation of Laozi (Lao Tzu), so I will talk about the ones I have read.

1. Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo (Hackett Publishing): The version I've catalogued. Pretty terse compared to most translations I've seen, which fits the text. For each verse, the translators have included at least one line in the original, along with its Wade-Giles romanization; this gives some sense of the text's original rhythm and sound, though I would prefer the whole thing. There's a short a glossary of Chinese characters in the back. Overall my favorite English version of Laozi, though like all it is imperfect.

2. Red Pine (Copper Canyon Press): I'm not always a fan of all of Pine's style and diction, but the book is invaluable for including translations of Chinese commentaries, making it a good companion when reading other versions. Includes the original.

3. D.C. Lau (Penguin Classics): The translation is on the wordy side, but Lau's introduction and appendices contain interesting historical info and interpretation.

4. Wing-Tsit Chan (A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, Princeton University Press): An odd translation: at times, Chan almost gives the impression Laozi wanted to be a technical philosopher. Commentary and notes are rather sparse, at least in the Source Book. Not a version I'd recommend over any other, but it's worth it for a second or third look at the text (and the Source Book is invaluable for other reasons).

5. Ursula K. Le Guin (Shambhala): The only version I wouldn't recommend at all. Le Guin imposes her own "philosophical anarchist" views on the text in a way that I don't think adds much to Laozi. The text can certainly be read "anarchistically," but this doesn't make it an anarchist text. It doesn't help that Le Guin is herself only a mediocre poet. She did write several good-to-very-good novels, some of which draw from her appropriation of Dao (I don't use the word "appropriation" dismissively), so if one wants her views they can be found there.

As for the text itself... no comment.
… (more)
Ibn_Cereno | 216 other reviews | Feb 17, 2024 |
Tao Te Ching është libri më i rëndësishëm i mënyrës së të menduarit dhe filozofisë Taoiste. Ky libër, sipas legjendës, ishte shkruar pak a shumë rreth vitit 600 para Krishtit dhe autor i tij qe Lao Tzu, Mjeshtri i Vjetër, për të cilin thuhet se ishte një arkivist i Oborrit Perandorak gjatë Dinastisë Zhou.
BibliotekaFeniks | 1 other review | Feb 8, 2024 |
It's hard to give such a legendary and profound work a 'rating' so my rating here is really for this particular translation and publication - and it is very good indeed. The language is generally very clear, if a little unpoetic at times, and the notes and commentary - as well as the introductory essays and appendix - are very useful guides to help understand more of what the text is saying.

If you are interested in the nature of our ongoing experience of living, in the idea or illusion of causality, what it is to know something, or what it means to act wisely or not, then you will want to keep some version of this text close to hand. For me it is a text to return to periodically, to remind me of a way of thinking that is too easily covered over by everyday ways of thinking.… (more)
breathslow | 216 other reviews | Jan 27, 2024 |
Ursula K. Le Guin is credited as the translator here, but she says a better word for what she did is "rendering." Her work and her notes on the process help reveal this venerable classic for western readers.
boermsea | 18 other reviews | Jan 22, 2024 |



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Associated Authors

James Legge Translator
Richard Wilhelm Translator
Thomas Cleary Translator
Zhuangzi Contributor
C. C. Tsai Illustrator
Chris Tutton Foreword
Jane English Translator
Stanley Lombardo Translator
Gia-Fu Feng Translator
David Hinton Translator
Chu Ta-Kao Translator
Stephen Addiss Translator
Ni Hua-Ching Translator
Maggie Jarvis Illustrator
Guy Leekley Translator
Pico Iyer Foreword
Lionel Giles Translator
Kate Fielder Cover Photograph
Burton Watson Introduction
Pertti Nieminen Translator
Witter Bynner Translator
Ralph Alan Dale Translator
Hans Knospe Translator
Victor H. Mair Translator
R.L. Wing Translator
Jacob Needleman Introduction
Pekka Ervast Translator
Stephen Mitchell Translator
Chad Hansen Translator
J.J.L. Duyvendak Translator
John Cleare Photographer
Jerome P. Seaton Contributor
J.A. Blok Translator
Stanislas Julien Translator
Willow Winston Illustrator
Lin Tao Translator
Thomas H. Miles Translator
Chung-Yuan Chang Translator
D. C. Lau Translator
Liou Kia-hway Translator
Alexander Ular Translator
Odette Brändli Translator
Walter Jerven Translator
Annikki Arponen Translator
Legge James Translator
Walter Gorn Old Translator
Edwin Denby Translator


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