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Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way…
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Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way (edition 2019)

by Ursula K. Le Guin (Author)

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7971320,642 (4.39)1
No other English translation of this greatest of the Chinese classics can match Ursula Le Guin's striking new version. Le Guin, best known for thought-provoking science fiction novels that have helped to transform the genre, has studied the Tao Te Ching for more than forty years. She has consulted the literal translations and worked with Chinese scholars to develop a version that lets the ancient text speak in a fresh way to modern people, while remaining faithful to the poetic beauty of the work. Avoiding scholarly interpretations and esoteric Taoist insights, she has revealed the Tao Te Ching 's immediate relevance and power, its depth and refreshing humor, in a way that shows better than ever before why it has been so much loved for more than 2,500 years. Included are Le Guin's own personal commentary and notes on the text. This new version is sure to be welcomed by the many readers of the Tao Te Ching as well as those coming to the text for the first time.… (more)
Member:ianjamison
Title:Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way
Authors:Ursula K. Le Guin (Author)
Info:Shambhala (2019), Edition: Reissue, 136 pages
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Lao Tzu : Tao Te Ching : A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way by Ursula K. Le Guin

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I've given this four stars, which I think may be a little bit generous because some of Le Guin's language is quirkier than I'd like. In particular, there are a number of instances in which she translates "Tao" as "The Way" – but then, in other instances, she refers to "Tao" or more commonly "The Tao." My own personal preference would be that "Tao" remain untranslated; but if it's going to be translated, then be consistent. Furthermore, I do not at all like the use of "The Tao"; the inclusion of the definite object tends to objectify "Tao" in a way that seem really counter to Taoism.

I'm still giving this four stars, but for one reason only. I happen to have the first-edition hardcover, which includes two CDs of a complete reading (roughly an hour-and-a-half) by Le Guin herself. Le Guin's "translation" (or adaptation, or whatever) is still in print in paperback and I've seen it on-shelf at B&N, but the paperback doesn't include the CDs. This is definitely worth getting for the sake of Le Guin's reading, and it's on that basis that I'm giving the book four stars; but you'll have difficulty finding the original hardcover at an affordable price, and even if you do there's a risk that the CDs might not be included in a used book or that they might be defective.

Unless you're able to get hold of the hardcover with the CDs of Le Guin's readings, you might be better off with another edition like the Jane English translation. ( )
  CurrerBell | Mar 19, 2021 |
This review is for Ursula K. le Guin's rendition of the Tao Te Ching. It's not exactly a translation (she didn't know Chinese) – she compared a bunch of translations and consulted experts, but also wrote poetry and what seemed right to her. A translation with more poetic license than usual. Some chapters have end notes with her interpretation – surprisingly (to me) I did not care for those at all. The book closes with notes on her choices of phrasing and with some specific comments for individual chapters, plus a short commentary on the translations she relied on, which I enjoyed to read.

I liked this book a lot. I have no basis for comparison, it was the first time I read any version of Tao Te Ching. But it was very clear, very poetic, and it reflected what I had gathered from secondary sources. A good read, very calming, and I'm pretty sure I'll return to it in the future. ( )
  _rixx_ | May 24, 2020 |
This is probably the third version of the Tao Te Ching I've owned, some more poetic, some more literal.
It presents a view on the spiritual that at gut level speaks to me more than other views.
It is as difficult and seemingly self-contradictory as any religious book, but more approachable.
Like most spiritual works, it uses aphorism and intuition instead of argument or reason.
It is terse, but still rambles in places, shorter than many religious books.
Tao Te Ching is more poetry than prose. Every translation is different.
It includes abstractions, analogies, advice to rulers, references to nature and work.
Its political advice is more problematical than other parts of the text.

I like Le Guin's version. She treats the book as poetry, says when she is uncertain about what a part of it means, references other versions, and uses simple, un-gendered language. ( )
  mykl-s | May 21, 2018 |
I've read 3 translations and this one is by far my favorite. ( )
  gabarito | May 13, 2018 |
Lovely and unexpected. Slippery with playful twists and turns to upturn conventional logic. Thinking about how figuring out my own politics and how to exist in the death spectacle of capitalism has led me to many similar conclusions, especially where it concerns ambition, greed, envy, "being competitive", "being the best", "climbing the corporate ladder", "surviving the rat race", and other similar "common sense" notions that make me want to die.

Read it alongside A Wizard of Earthsea and it made me appreciate that book better despite having a bit of a rocky start with it. ( )
  subabat | Mar 19, 2018 |
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No other English translation of this greatest of the Chinese classics can match Ursula Le Guin's striking new version. Le Guin, best known for thought-provoking science fiction novels that have helped to transform the genre, has studied the Tao Te Ching for more than forty years. She has consulted the literal translations and worked with Chinese scholars to develop a version that lets the ancient text speak in a fresh way to modern people, while remaining faithful to the poetic beauty of the work. Avoiding scholarly interpretations and esoteric Taoist insights, she has revealed the Tao Te Ching 's immediate relevance and power, its depth and refreshing humor, in a way that shows better than ever before why it has been so much loved for more than 2,500 years. Included are Le Guin's own personal commentary and notes on the text. This new version is sure to be welcomed by the many readers of the Tao Te Ching as well as those coming to the text for the first time.

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