Cover image for The classic of the way and virtue : a new translation of the Tao-te ching of Laozi as interpreted by Wang Bi
The classic of the way and virtue : a new translation of the Tao-te ching of Laozi as interpreted by Wang Bi
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Dao de jing. English (Wilson)
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
244 pages ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL1900.L26 E513 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The essential Taoist book and one of a triad that make up the most influential religious and philosophical writings of Chinese tradition, the Tao-te Ching is the subject of hundreds of new interpretive studies each year. As Taoism emerges as one of the East Asian philosophies most interesting to Westerners, an accessible new edition of this great work--written for English-language readers, yet rendered with an eye toward Chinese understanding--has been much needed by scholars and general readers.

Richard John Lynn, whose recent translation of the I Ching was hailed by the Times Literary Supplement as "the best I Ching that has so far appeared," presents here another fine translation. Like his I Ching, this volume includes the interpretive commentary of the third-century scholar Wang Bi (226-249), who wrote the first and most sophisticated commentary on the Tao-te Ching.

Lynn's introduction explores the centrality of Wang's commentaries in Chinese thought, the position of the Tao-te Ching in East Asian tradition, Wang's short but brilliant life, and the era in which he lived. The text consists of eighty-one short, aphoristic sections presenting a complete view of how the sage rules in accordance with the spontaneous ways of the natural world. Although the Tao-te Ching was originally designed to provide advice to the ruler, the Chinese regard its teachings as living and self-cultivation tools applicable to anyone. Wang Bi's commentaries, following each statement, flesh out the text so that it speaks to the modern Western reader as it has to Asians for more than seventeen centuries.

Author Notes

Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, is considered to be the founder of Taoism. His birth and death dates are uncertain. According to legend, Lao Tzu was keeper of the archives at the imperial court. When he was eighty years old he set out for the western border of China, saddened and disillusioned that men were unwilling to follow the path to natural goodness. At the border, he was asked by a border guard to record his teachings before he left. These teachings were compiled into the Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

The most translated Chinese classic is here given another translation filtered through the commentary of Wang Bi (226-249), renowned for his brilliant but direct approach to many Chinese works. Originally intended as guidance for rulers, the Tao-te Ching became a guide for living in accordance with the Way (Tao). The 81 sections, divided into two parts, usually have a few lines (sometimes just one) followed by Wang Bi's comment, often discussing the meaning of a word romanized from the Chinese. Notes follow each section. Scholars with a knowledge of Chinese will find this text informative and interesting, but others may be annoyed at the scholarly apparatus. More accessible translations are those by Witter Bynner, Robert G. Hendricks, D.C. Lau, Arthur Waley, and the poet and sf writer Ursula Le Guin, among many others. Nevertheless, Lynn (East Asian studies, Univ. of Alberta), who has also translated The Classic of Changes (LJ 9/1/94), does a very able job. Recommended for academic libraries with Asian studies sections.ÄKitty Dean Chen, Nassau Coll., Garden City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

The Work Wang Bi WorksWang Bi
Translator's Note Outline Introduction to the LaoziWang Bi
Laozi, with the Commentary of Wang Bi Part 1 Part 2