Tao Te Ching (Le Guin Translation) — Introduction

By Laozi (Lao-Tzu)

Revolt Library Anarchism Tao Te Ching (Le Guin Translation) Introduction

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(571 BCE - )

Father of Taoism, Wu Wei (Non-Doing), and Anti-Political Recluse

Lao Tzu also rendered as Laozi (Chinese: 老子, commonly translated as "Old Master") was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, the founder of philosophical Taoism, and a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions. A semi-legendary figure, Lao Tzu is usually portrayed as a 6th-century BC contemporary of Confucius in the Spring and Autumn period. However, some modern historians consider him to have lived during the Warring States period of the 4th century BC. A central figure in Chinese culture, Laozi is claimed by both the emperors of the Tang dynasty and modern people of the Li surname as a founder of their lineage. Laozi's work has been embraced by both various anti-authoritarian movements and Chinese Legalism. Lao Tzu itself is a Chinese honorific title: 老 (Old rˤuʔ, "old, venerable") and 子 (Old tsəʔ, "master"). In traditiona... (From: Wikipedia.org.)


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Introduction

For A. L. K. and J. P. S.

Introduction

The Tao Te Ching was probably written about twenty-five hundred years ago, perhaps by a man called Lao Tzu, who may have lived at about the same time as Confucius. Nothing about it is certain except that it’s Chinese, and very old, and speaks to people everywhere as if it had been written yesterday.

The first Tao Te Ching I ever saw was the Paul Carus edition of 1898, bound in yellow cloth stamped with blue and red Chinese designs and characters. It was a venerable object of mystery, which I soon investigated, and found more fascinating inside than out. The book was my father’s; he read in it often. Once I saw him making notes from it and asked what he was doing.

He said he was marking which chapters he’d like to have read at his funeral.

We did read those chapters at his memorial service.

I have the book, now ninety-eight years old and further ornamented with red binding-tape to hold the back on, and have marked which chapters I’d like to have read at my funeral. In the Notes, I explain why I was so lucky to discover Lao Tzu in that particular edition. Here I will only say that I was lucky to discover him so young, so that I could live with his book my whole life long.

I also discuss other aspects of my version in the Notes—the how of it. Here I want to state very briefly the why of it.

The Tao Te Ching is partly in prose, partly in verse; but as we define poetry now, not by rhyme and meter but as a patterned intensity of language, the whole thing is poetry. I wanted to catch that poetry, its terse, strange beauty. Most translations have caught meanings in their net, but prosily, letting the beauty slip through. And in poetry, beauty is no ornament; it is the meaning. It is the truth. We have that on good authority.

Scholarly translations of the Tao Te Ching as a manual for rulers use a vocabulary that emphasizes the uniqueness of the Taoist “sage,” his masculinity, his authority. This language is perpetuated, and degraded, in most popular versions. I wanted a Book of the Way accessible to a present-day, unwise, unpowerful, and perhaps unmale reader, not seeking esoteric secrets, but listening for a voice that speaks to the soul. I would like that reader to see why people have loved the book for twenty-five hundred years.

It is the most lovable of all the great religious texts, funny, keen, kind, modest, indestructibly outrageous, and inexhaustibly refreshing. Of all the deep springs, this is the purest water. To me, it is also the deepest spring.


—Ursula K. Le Guin

From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org

(571 BCE - )

Father of Taoism, Wu Wei (Non-Doing), and Anti-Political Recluse

Lao Tzu also rendered as Laozi (Chinese: 老子, commonly translated as "Old Master") was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, the founder of philosophical Taoism, and a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions. A semi-legendary figure, Lao Tzu is usually portrayed as a 6th-century BC contemporary of Confucius in the Spring and Autumn period. However, some modern historians consider him to have lived during the Warring States period of the 4th century BC. A central figure in Chinese culture, Laozi is claimed by both the emperors of the Tang dynasty and modern people of the Li surname as a founder of their lineage. Laozi's work has been embraced by both various anti-authoritarian movements and Chinese Legalism. Lao Tzu itself is a Chinese honorific title: 老 (Old rˤuʔ, "old, venerable") and 子 (Old tsəʔ, "master"). In traditiona... (From: Wikipedia.org.)

(1929 - 2018)

American Science Fiction Author and Anarchist Visionary

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (/ˈkroʊbər lə ˈɡwɪn/; October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018) was an American author best known for her works of speculative fiction, including science fiction works set in her Hainish universe, and the Earthsea fantasy series. She was first published in 1959, and her literary career spanned nearly sixty years, yielding more than twenty novels and over a hundred short stories, in addition to poetry, literary criticism, translations, and children's books. Frequently described as an author of science fiction, Le Guin has also been called a "major voice in American Letters", and herself said she would prefer to be known as an "American novelist". (From: Wikipedia.org.)

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November 6, 2021; 4:29:32 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
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