"Cut doors and windows / to make a room./ Where the room isn't,/ there's room for you./ So the profit in what is / is in the use of what isn't." These 2.5-millenia-old words, lovingly rendered by novelist Ursula K. Le Guin, encompass every phenomenon in the universe, from atomic energy to the Grand Canyon, from music to the receptive ear.
Unlike other (male) translators, who seem obsessed with the power of wisdom, Le Guin emphasizes the influence of powerlessness, and the wisdom of wei wu wei: action by inaction. Existence by void. Power by weakness. Music by silence. Her comments, spare and impactful, exemplify the Tao.— Jalen
No other English translation of this greatest of the Chinese classics can match Ursula Le Guin's striking new version. Le Guin, best known for thought-provoking science fiction novels that have helped to transform the genre, has studied the Tao Te Ching for more than forty years. She has consulted the literal translations and worked with Chinese scholars to develop a version that lets the ancient text speak in a fresh way to modern people, while remaining faithful to the poetic beauty of the work. Avoiding scholarly interpretations and esoteric Taoist insights, she has revealed the Tao Te Ching 's immediate relevance and power, its depth and refreshing humor, in a way that shows better than ever before why it has been so much loved for more than 2,500 years. Included are Le Guin's own personal commentary and notes on the text. This new version is sure to be welcomed by the many readers of the Tao Te Ching as well as those coming to the text for the first time.
About the Author
Ursula K. Le Guin is the winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Gandalf, Kafka, and National Book Awards. She is the author of many short stories and more than fifteen novels, including The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. She is also an honored author of children's books, poetry, and criticism.
"Reading [Le Guin's] translations is like taking a shared walk down a familiar trail where we discover rocks and water that we somehow missed before. . . . undeniably refreshing, capturing a language that is casual and clear, reflective and pointed, full of the wise humor of the Way."—Parabola
"A student of the Tao for several decades, Le Guin has created an English text that will speak to modern readers in a fresh and lively way, while conveying the humor, insight and beauty of the original."—Shambhala Sun
"Ursula K. Le Guin's translation of the Tao Te Ching is a personal and poetic meditation. Through her own careful study of these ancient teachings, she brings the Way into contemporary life. Each day, I open this book at random and receive a contemplative gift. These words are akin to water in the desert."—Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge
"Among the many translations of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching , Ursula K. Le Guin's new version is a special treasure—a delight. There is something startlingly fresh and creatively alive here, brought forth by Ms. Le Guin's intuitive and personal ingenuity. Her rendering has moved me to return to the original Chinese text with rejuvenated fervor, rejoicing in the ineffable sageness that lies in and between Lao Tzu's lines."—Chuangliang Al Huang, founder of the Living Tao Foundation, coauthor (with Alan Watts) of Tao: The Watercourse Way