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Tao te Ching [Paperback]

Jonathan Star
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 26 2003
This unique edition of the Tao Te Ching features:
  • the first comprehensive verbatim translation of the entire text of the Tao Te Ching;
  • literal character definitions that allow the reader to create his or her own interpretation;
  • a concordance section that enables the reader to track the different ways a single character is used throughout the work;
  • grammatical and interpretive notes on individual terms and verses; * a unique commentary on the first verse, which represents a complete spiritual teaching in itself; and
  • a literary translation of the Tao Te Ching that can be read on its own or compared with the verbatim translation.

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About the Author

Jonathan Star has been widely acclaimed for his translations of everything from Rumi to the Tao Te Ching to the greatest Christian mystics. Of his celebrated Rumi: In the Arms of the Beloved, Larry Dossey wrote, "Rumi would be proud of Star's luminous translations." Star lives in upstate New York.

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First Sentence
The Tao Te Ching is an ancient Chinese text consisting of spiritual teachings, folk wisdom, political instruction, cosmology observations of nature, anti-Confucian doctrine, and mystical insights. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
One of the core ideas in Taoism (especially if you read a lot of Chuang-Tzu) is that there are infinite perspectives on anything and everything, and no one is more absolute or "correct" than the others. I think it's safe to say that the Tao Te Ching itself is an excellent example of this principle - just look at how many translations have been done, in various styles, approaching various perspectives on life, society, money, etc. And while there are certainly translations that speak to me far better than others do, I'd have to say that they are not always completely satisfying.
If you feel the same way, then Jonathan Star has come to your rescue with /Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition/. It starts out with an overview of Lao Tzu's work and the challenges that come with translating it. Then there is a rather good literary translation by the author, which sometimes takes a bit of artistic license - definitely not a bad thing. This is not the meat of the book, however. That part is the "definitive" translation itself - the literal translation. Every character of every chapter is provided, along with multiple possible meanings. Using this, you can compose your own interpretations of your favorite chapters, or the whole book if you wish.
The literal translation is extremely well done, and provided in a very accessible format that provides a lot of information in an easy to use manner. If I had to pick something to gripe about, it would be the fact that the literal translation uses Wade-Giles instead of Pinyin (this from a book with a 2001 copyright). I suppose this was to keep things consistent with the similarly old-style spellings "Tao", "Lao-Tzu", etc. This niggle is mitigated a bit by the concordance section of the book, which includes translations from Wade-Giles to Pinyin.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An edition you can sink your teeth into. Jan. 27 2005
This edition of the Tao Te Ching is the only one you will ever need. The translation provided is beautiful, peotic, and understandable.
The verbatim translation is absolutely amazing for really understanding what you're reading. It gives you the ability to create your own interpretation, and understand some of the more nuanced meanings of the original chinese text.
The book gives you everything you need to simply enjoy the Tao Te Ching, and provides you with the first few steps toward a serious study of the work. Whether you are interested in the Tao Te Ching for spiritual, intellectual, or recreational purposes, this is the ideal book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive translation of the Tao Te Ching July 5 2004
By Alan
There are so many translations of the Tao Te Ching that choosing one may be difficult. I like Jonathan Star's translation the most, for two reasons: first, because I feel it's a good translation, and second, because the entire text of the Tao Te Ching is included, word for word, in the original chinese, with word for word translations. This gives the reader some insight into the original text. Also included is some commentary and history. I highly recommend this translation. Also recommended is the translation by Brian Browne Walker.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive indeed for translation studies Jan. 19 2002
Many translators have taken great liberties with the text of the Tao Te Ching. I have studied and compared many versions, and at one point I got so fed up that I started compiling versions together in what was slowly becoming my own "best of" from among them. Then I ran across this book by Jonathan Star. Whether I ever continue that project or not, Star has made studying the Tao Te Ching a whole lot easier, and more accurate. Recommended for study, this well thought out translation also contains a second "verbatim" translation that consists of a list of various possible English meanings of the Chinese characters (useful for making ones own translation and/or gaining further insight into the text), extensive notes, a commentary, concordance, and Wade-Pinyin conversion. It's a very useful, valuable toolbox for studying the Tao Te Ching. As of yet, there does not appear to be any other source for detailed study as well put together and with as much useful material.
Since I wrote the above, a book here at Amazon came to my attention that has become even more important to me. It's called-- Lao-Tzu's Taoteching: With Selected Commentaries of the Past 2000 Years. ISBN: 1562790854 by the author Red Pine (a.k.a. Bill Porter). It's not as a definitive academic source book for translation as Star's, but I like the tranlsation itself so much better than Stars, and the commentaries are so insightful, that I dont even use the Jonathan Star book anymore! It is a MUST for TAO studies. I even bought a spare copy of it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must own version of the Tao Sept. 3 2012
Tao Te Ching..meaning Book of The Way, or book of the Word. One of the best books ever written. Certainly, the book that has had the most profound positive influence on my life.

If you are like me, you may be wondering should I get this particular version, and how does it compare with other versions like the Stephen Mitchell, Wayne Dyer and or even the Ursula Le Guin version.

No matter how great a writer you think Jonathan is, he did not write the Tao, yet his translation is consistent with the best versions I have read.

My personal favorite version is the Stephen Mitchell version. The Tao is wise, paradoxical, counterinituitive, puzzling, fascinating, mysterious, inspiring, amazing and true. These concepts bypass ego based thinking, and the idea of doing things by not striving is allowing a higher more authentic way of thinking to inform your being and your action.

The Jonathan Star version has Chinese symbols at the back, with multiple meanings of each symbol, which gives it an advantage over other editions. This is a great idea, which allows you to come up with your own version of the Tao, and would really open up your thinking on the Tao.

If you are like me, then as you read you discover the wisdom like a raw jewel which you shape into a glittering diamond. That is the brilliance of the book.

The Tao is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want.

81 chapters, all less than one page. Like any great mystery, the Tao is there to be experienced and not necessarily understood. Here is a selection from verse 81 to illustrate the difference between different versions.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Version
Like others have said, if you want a version that is not an interpretation, but instead takes a literal approach to translation, this is the book for you. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Scholarlyrunner
5.0 out of 5 stars Why do you need another translation?
Well, this one's a bit different. While I enjoyed his translation, what really stands out in this book is the fact that every single Chinese character in every single line is... Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2003 by A. Ort
5.0 out of 5 stars A Quantum Leap in Tao Te Ching Translation
For students and lovers of Lao Tzu's timeless poems of insight, gentle humor, and guidance in living a truly human life on both the inner and outer planes of being, Jonathan Star's... Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2003 by Brian M. Donohue
5.0 out of 5 stars All translations are not equal
I reviewed the Feng/English translation of this work on 12-11-02. I think it important to point out that this review site has all of the Tao Te Ching reviews together. Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2003 by Jared Andersson
4.0 out of 5 stars who's reviewing what?
1st - a lot of these reviews appear to be reviewing the wrong book! this is NOT mitchell's book!
2nd - having read part but not all of this book so far - i like it. why? Read more
Published on July 11 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally: Prozac for the Compulsive Taoist
Regardless of the translation, the Tao Te Ching relaxes you. Then, you start comparing the different translations, and you get to panicking real fast. Pretty ironic. Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2001 by "oblique28"
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last!!!
It's been a long wait, but it's been worth it. There hasn't been a really good literal tranlation on a character by character basis for a very long time, and not only does this... Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2001 by "hb88banzai"
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