metababe, August 30, 2013 (view all comments by metababe)
I personally believe this is the best translation of the Tao Te Ching; I have compared at least 8 translations from several languages. It is the translation I study almost daily.
nimblewan, April 4, 2009 (view all comments by nimblewan)
I love this book. It is the first version of the Tao Te Ching I had read. Though I have read others, I believe this is the easiest version to understand. I don't speak Chinese so I can't speak to the accuracy of the translation. Many say it isn't accurate. However, the idea of the Tao is universal and if you wish to explore and perhaps become enlightened to the power of the Tao; I recommend you start here. There are versions which are known to be more accurate. I have some of them and enjoy them, but they don't read as easily as this translation by Stephen Mitchell. For that reason when someone asks me, "what is the Tao?" I hand them a copy of this translation and say "read this." I never get the book back, so I am here to buy another.
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aimee.altman, April 1, 2009 (view all comments by aimee.altman)
This book has added so much to my life. I have had a copy for many years and it has traveled many miles by my side. It is worth owning and easy to use because of it's small size. It fits well in most purses or backpacks. I find myself pulling it out and opening up to any given page when I am in moments of "waiting".
I have come across other translations but this is so poetic and eloquent that it is by far my favorite. It should sit on the family bookshelf right next to the bible. I hope you enjoy!
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Profchan, May 2, 2007 (view all comments by Profchan)
Mitchell's book has a nice cover. I like the size. It's a good design. And that's about all the good things I see in it. The fact that it sells so well underscores the abysmally low level of Chinese knowledge in the U.S. and European countries.
The scholars who praise this version, like Huston Smith, are themselves not knowledgeable in Chinese, and are not really qualified to evaluate it. They do praise it lavishly not necessarily due to merit, but due to mutual back-scratching in the academic world - about which I am fully qualified to comment.
Some have called this "definitive" - but if you really know Chinese you will instantly see, from any chapter, that it is anything but. Each chapter (verse) in this book has about a dozen errors in the sense of omission of original concepts, additions of author's own ideas, and distortions and twists the original meaning into something that only superficially resembles the original Tao teachings.
Let's take a look at one example. Chapter 60 has this line: "You spoil it with too much poking." Well, this is something added by the author, not a translation, because the orignial says absolutely nothing about spoiling the fish or poking it.
The content is sparse. There's not much meat between the covers. The author uses a lot of New Age-isms and his personal philosophies to fill out the blanks where he does not understand the original.
Or look at chapter 64. Between the example about the tree and the journey of a thousand miles, the orignal says "a tower of nine levels starts as accumulated dirt." This line is completely missing, possibly because Mitchell does not understand the line.
Take the above mistakes and imagine them duplicated several times in every chapter, and you start to get the idea how inaccurate this translation is. I am not opposed to calling it "inspired by Lao Tzu" or "based on Lao Tzu" but to call it a translation of Lao Tzu is simply false advertising.
This book has a lot of momentum and is often recommended. I fully expect it will continue to be very, very popular. For those who are interested in more authenticity as opposed to this Americanized, watered-down stuff, my recommendation is to continue your investigation, and look at the other options available to you.
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In a widely praised translation, Stephen Mitchell provides an accessible understanding of a classic guide for living, now in an attractive, pocket-size trim designed to fit in a purse, briefcase, backpack, or pocket. "The English, as 'fluid as meling ice, ' is a joy to read throughout".--New Republic.
by Harper Collins,
Lao-tzu's Tao Te Ching, or Book of the Way, is the classic manual on the art of living, and one of the wonders of the world. In eighty-one brief chapters, the Tao Te Ching looks at the basic predicament of being alive and gives advice that imparts balance and perspective, a serene and generous spirit. This book is about wisdom in action. It teaches how to work for the good with the effortless skill that comes from being in accord with the Tao (the basic principle of the universe) and applies equally to good government and sexual love; to child rearing, business, and ecology.
Stephen Mitchell's bestselling version has been widely acclaimed as a gift to contemporary culture.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.