Presenting the commentary of the third-century sage Wang Bi, this book provides a Chinese way of reading the Daodejing, one which will surprise Western readers.
Many of the brightest Chinese minds have used the form of the commentary to open the terse and poetic chapters of the Laozi to their readers and also to develop a philosophy of their own. None has been more sophisticated, philosophically probing, and influential in the endeavor than a young genius of the third century C.E., Wang Bi (226–249). In this book, Rudolf G. Wagner provides a full translation of the Laozi that extracts from Wang Bi's Commentary the manner in which he read the text, as well as a full translation of Wang Bi's Commentary and his essay on the "subtle pointers" of the Laozi. The result is a Chinese reading of the Laozi that will surprise and delight Western readers familiar with some of the many translations of the work.
A Chinese Reading of the Daodejing is part of Rudolf Wagner's trilogy on Wang Bi's philosophy and classical studies, which also includes The Craft of a Chinese Commentator: Wang Bi on the Laozi and Language, Ontology, and Political Philosophy in China: Wang Bi's Scholarly Exploration of the Dark (Xuanxue), both published by SUNY Press.
Rudolf G. Wagner is Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Heidelberg.
"I highly recommend this remarkable book and strongly encourage readers to do a critical reading themselves." — Xing Wen, Dao
"…a painstaking effort … that merits praise and serious attention." — Journal of Chinese Religions
"Perhaps the most meticulous and ambitious English-language 'philological study and translation' of a Chinese 'philosophical' text ever published." — Religious Studies Review
"I like this book's identification and solution of a critical problem in our understanding of Wang Bi's Commentary on the Laozi, namely that the received text of the Laozi that has accompanied Wang Bi's Commentary for centuries is clearly not the version of the text that Wang Bi actually used. Given the tremendous influence that this important commentary has exerted for well over a millennium, the necessity of reconstructing the Laozi text that Wang Bi used is obvious. This book will provide a tremendous service to the field." — Joseph A. Adler, coauthor of Sung Dynasty Uses of the I Ching