Tao Te Ching, Art of War

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Tao Te Ching, Art of War

Postby ZmajEriksson » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:00 pm

I'm very interested I'm these two books but I don't want to read any altered/mistranslated versions. Which translations do you recommend?

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Re: Tao Te Ching, Art of War

Postby curio » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:33 pm

I have Stephen Mitchell's translation. I chose this one because when I was comparing the various translations of the Tao Te Ching, it seemed to be the most easily digestible while not being too divergent from the original essence. Not that I knew exactly what that essence was as I hadn't read any edition of the Tao at the time, let alone the original, but based on feel it seemed good enough.

The downside, and I didn't know this until just now, is that the translator was "raised in the jewish tradition". The commentaries in the back of the book are full of biblical comparisons, and in an interview online he has mentioned learning hebrew to translate various books of the old testament. In the back of the book is a Q&A with the author where he mentions that he did, indeed, revise some stanzas(with examples), but he says that he did this for "creative freedom" and "flow". Take that for what it's worth, but that being said I don't remember anything jumping out at me as being false even though there were a few stanzas that I found a bit disagreeable. It's possible that I just didn't "get it" but you can be the judge of that. And now that I know the author's background, I have to wonder, myself.

Now, all that being said, the Tao Te Ching is very much a "right-brained" work. I think if you're gonna study it properly, you need to read a few versions of it anyway.
Some translations that I've seen people speak very highly of and that I've compared along with Mitchell's version(not translation, as he admits) are the Jane English and Red Pine translations. If I were to pick up another Tao Te Ching, I would choose one of these two, and so they are my recommendations to you.

As for the Art of War, I don't think there's alot that can go wrong here since it's not a spiritual text and it's fairly straightforward compared to the Tao.
There are free audiobooks of it on youtube and plenty of free texts online. But if you're interested in the Art of War then I'd like to recommend looking into the 36 stratagems, as well. Specifically, the Book of Stratagems by Von Senger(with the red cover). Very good read, and I think it's amazing how much wisdom the Chinese managed to fit into thirty-six 3-4 word sentences.

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