The classic Taoist text freshly translated using the original Chinese script from Lao Tzu's time, and beautifully illustrated with seventeenth-century artwork.
Renowned translator William Scott Wilson has rendered Lao Tzu's classic in the most authentic way possible, using both the ancient text and the even older Great Seal script used during Lao Tzu's time. The result is a new and nuanced translation, accompanied by gorgeous Chinese ink paintings and fascinating ancillary material. Wilson includes an introduction that tells the story of Lao Tzu, the "old man" and the "keeper of the archives," and wonderful notes to illuminate the text. He also includes two short essays--one explains the relationship between Taoism and Zen, and the other explores the roots that link the spiritual aspects of the Tao with the practice of Chinese and Japanese martial arts. Wilson's version of this ancient classic is wonderfully fresh and readable.
About the Author
The first reliable reference to Laozi is his "biography" in Shiji (63, tr. Chan 1963:35-37), by Chinese historian Sima Qian (ca. 145-86 BC), which combines three stories. First, Laozi was a contemporary of Confucius (551-479 BC). His surname was Li, and his personal name was Er or Dan "long ear." He was an official in the imperial archives, and wrote a book in two parts before departing to the West. Second, Laozi was Lao Laizi "Old Come Master," also a contemporary of Confucius, who wrote a book in 15 parts. Third, Laozi was the Grand Historian and astrologer Lao Dan ("Old Long-ears"), who lived during the reign (384-362 BC) of Duke Xian (Qin). Generations of scholars have debated the historicity of Laozi and the dating of the Tao Te Ching. Linguistic studies of the text's vocabulary and rhyme scheme point to a date of composition after the Shi Jing yet before the Zhuangzi. Legends claim variously that Laozi was "born old"; that he lived for 996 years, with twelve previous incarnations starting around the time of the Three Sovereigns before the thirteenth as Laozi. Some Western scholars have expressed doubts over Laozi's historical existence, claiming that the Tao Te Ching is actually a collection of the work of various authors.
William Scott Wilson is the foremost translator into English of traditional Japanese texts on samurai culture. His bestselling books include The Book of Five Rings, The Unfettered Mind, and The Lone Samurai, a biography of the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi.