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The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi [Hardcover]

Richard John Lynn
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 75.00 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Dec 8 1994 Translations from the Asian Classics

Used in China as a book of divination and source of wisdom for more than three thousand years, the I Ching has been taken up by millions of English-language speakers in the nineteenth century. The first translation ever to appear in English that includes one of the major Chinese philosophical commentaries, the Columbia I Ching presents the classic book of changes for the world today.

Richard Lynn's introduction to this new translation explains the organization of The Classic of Changes through the history of its various parts, and describes how the text was and still is used as a manual of divination with both the stalk and coin methods. For the fortune-telling novice, he provides a chart of trigrams and hexagrams; an index of terms, names, and concepts; and a glossary and bibliography.

Lynn presents for the first time in English the fascinating commentary on the I Ching written by Wang Bi (226-249), who was the main interpreter of the work for some seven hundred years. Wang Bi interpreted the I Ching as a book of moral and political wisdom, arguing that the text should not be read literally, but rather as an expression of abstract ideas. Lynn places Wang Bi's commentary in historical context.

For beginners and devotees alike, Columbia's I Ching is the clearest and most authoritative translation of this ancient classic.

(Kidder Smith, Bowdoin College Philosophy East & West)

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From Library Journal

The I Ching or Book of Changes is a Chinese manual for divination (also called a book of wisdom), compiled in the ninth century B.C.E. A person consulting the I Ching is said to be able to see into the true nature of the universe, and, by acting according to its dictates, avoid personal failures and disasters. Most available editions of the I Ching are based on the James Legge translation, a work produced over 140 years ago and characterized by romanticized and idiomatic Victorian English. Although not more accurate or revealing than the Legge, this new translation is welcome because of its crisp usage of modern-day English. Lynn supplies a chart of trigrams and hexagrams, a glossary, and a list of proper names. Of special interest to students of classical Chinese text is a commentary by Wang Bi, a third-century A.D. Chinese scholar. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.
Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.


This is the best I Ching that has so far appeared.

(Times Literary Supplement (London))

This new translation is welcome because of its crisp usage of modern-day English... Highly recommended.

(Library Journal)

Familiar with current historical and textual research, having no truck with 'ageless wisdoms' and leery of spirituality, Richard Lynn's translation of the I Ching as retranslated, explicated and interpreted by the young scholar Wang Bi and his followers, feels a world apart from that of Wilhelm.

(London Review of Books)

[Lynn]'s provided us with the materials from which to reconstruct Wang Bi's vision of the text. The result is clearly written and presented -- the best entry into an I Ching world that we have so far.

(Shambala Sun)

Lynn has... produce[d] a translation of whose accuracy one can be optimally confident... [T]his is a solidly and attractively produced volume.


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By tepi
Richard John Lynn's scholarly edition of the I Ching appears to have been designed as a competitor to the Carey Baynes translation of Richard Wilhelm's deservedly famous edition. It has a very similar design and the same tall slim pages, though unfortunately the spine is glued and the book doesn't open flat.
Wilhelm wore his scholarship lightly, but Lynn seems determined to exhibit his. The numerous interesting footnotes are full, detailed, and unmistakably scholarly, but have been printed in a miniscule font that makes for difficult reading.
Apart from its inferior binding and minsicule typography, the main problem with the book is the extreme repulsiveness of the translation. Here is the opening line of Hexagram 1:
'Qian consists of fundamentality [yuan], prevalence [heng], fitness [li], and constancy [zhen]' (page 129).
Intelligible, perhaps, if you happen to understand the original Chinese, but hardly designed to make much sense to anyone else. Lynn's edition is very much one for the advanced student. Long-time students of the I Ching will find lots to chew on in his densely packed and heavily annotated pages (provided they can read them).
Beginners who are not so much interested in studying the I Ching as a document in the history of Chinese philosophy, but who want to try their hand at using the I Ching for divination, should most definitely avoid the Lynn. Their needs would be far better served by a book such as Stephen Karcher's 'How to Use the I Ching,' one of the finest available editions for beginners on the market.
The Lynn has its uses, but despite its pretensions I very much doubt it will ever succeed in ousting the Wilhelm from its pre-eminent position as the West's foremost edition of the I Ching. Among other things, I don't think people would be prepared to sacrifice Wilhelm's beauty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scholarship with insight Aug. 12 2003
This is an outstanding blend of scholarship backed by a depth of research and expertise, melded with a sensitivity to what an oracle means to people, and how it is properly to be used. Lynn has recreated and organized the Wang Bi text of the I Ching (Wang Bi was a scholar and writer in ancient China who died at a tragically young age but accomplished extraordinary things on a truly Mozartean scale--his version of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching is still the most read and cited version of that work, and his insight into the I Ching, thanks to Prof. Lynn, deserves as much study). For those who are drawn to the ancient oracle as an insight guide rather than a parlor game or fortune-telling tool, Prof. Lynn's presentation of the Wang Bi I Ching is an essential first step. I would further recommend the work of Carol Anthony ("Guide to the I Ching") and her latest exploration of the I Ching from the perspective of helping one's inner learning to inform and enrich one's outer life, which has been written with Hanna Moog: it is called "I Ching: The Oracle of the Cosmic Way."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different Confucian Yijing Dec 13 2000
By porthos
What sets this apart from other translations of the Classic of Changes is that it is relatively recent work done on a relatively early collection of Changes-plus-commentaries. Indeed, Wang Bi's comments on the Changes, translated here, are the earliest known comments on the Changes, as Wang Bi lived just after the collapse of the Han dynasty.
The translator describes Wang Bi's approach as a blend of Confucianism, Legalism, and Daoism, although Daoism as we now know it had come into being barely 100 years prior, and the Changes has never been a particularly Daoist work to begin with, although it was finally admitted into the Daoist Canon centuries after its adoption by the Confucians. I would characterize Wang Bi's sensibility as predominantly Confucian. Indeed, Lynn acknowledges that Neo-Confucian interpretations of this classic would be much different had it not been for the legacy of Wang Bi.
This translation serves scholarship before all else, and is accordingly rife with footnotes, glosses, and annotations, which can make it rough to read. Nevertheless, this is one of the Five Classics, extremely important in the Confucian Canon, and Lynn has worked hard to bring us a complete translation of the Changes as read by Wang Bi. There is no doubt that it was a worthwhile effort.
For a neo-Confucian take on the Changes, the work of choice is still the Wilhelm-Baynes. For a pre-Confucian view, Whincup's translation is fascinating. By all means, avoid Ritsema and Karcher if what you desire is a translation of the Classic of Changes. As an introduction, I'd recommend the work at hand or Whincup's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I first found Wang Bi's commentary in the main Library at UC Davis, and instantly lusted after a copy of it. When, 2 years later, I found it available at Amazon, I "went for it". This is a much more accurate translation, the text notes provide info on textual debates, it is a synthesis of thought to that time, not Confucian, not neo Daoist, is closer to the classical daoism and well worth using. Combined with Ritsema-Karcher text, you have a mine of self-development and of oracular divination.
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