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The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi Paperback – Mar 31 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 602 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (March 31 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231082959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231082952
  • Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 12.6 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #363,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By tepi on May 21 2001
Format: Spiral-bound
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 By Brian M. Donohue on Aug. 12 2003
Format: Hardcover
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 By Jack Purcell on Sept. 14 2003
Format: Hardcover
The reviews on the Lynn book appear to break down to a partisanship between John Richard Lynn and Wilhelm. There's room in the library of the I Ching enthusiast for both. I happen to prefer Lynn, but refer frequently to Wilhelm. It's difficult to imagine either of the two absent from the shelf. I'm particularly grateful to Lynn for the comprehensive footnotes and historical notes to put each item in context.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By porthos on Dec 13 2000
Format: Hardcover
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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