Thomas Cleary?

Discussion in 'Tao' started by Hustle Kong, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. Hustle Kong

    Hustle Kong New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2006
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can anyone educate me on Thomas Cleary's credibility as a translator? I had purchased his set of translations of Taoist works, and hadn't realised that there seems to be some questions as to his reliability. Do I have to read these translations with a grain of salt then? and if so, how large?

    I am familiar enough with the TTC to "get" some of the differences in his style of translation, and am wondering if these books will be valuable as a student of Taoism.

    Thank you for your input!
     
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Messages:
    3,786
    Likes Received:
    45
    Namaste HustleKong,

    thank you for the post.

    Thomas Cleary holds a PhD from Harvard on East Asian Languages and has translated over 50 Buddhist works including things such as the Blue Cliff Record and so forth.

    his translations of Taoist work is, in my view, unparralled due to his own experiences with the practices and techniques, especially the Golden Flower technique and his grasp of East Asian language.

    that being said, it is always advisible to read several translations as different translators will tend to place their emphasis on different parts... so more views offers you the chance at a more thorough understanding...

    not to mention, of course, that some of it is simply presentation and style. you may simply not like how he is presenting the information so someone like Burton Watson may be more to your liking, for instance.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  3. Hustle Kong

    Hustle Kong New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2006
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the reply!

    Yeah, I think it was also his prolific output that made me a little... suspicious isn't quite the right word... you know?

    I'm in the middle of the Wen-tzu right now, and based on the flavor of Taoism I aquired a liking for from the Chuang Tzu, I'm not as enthusiastic about it, as it seems to have a lot more interpolation from other schools.

    But I'm no scholar, and may be WAY off.
     
  4. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Messages:
    3,786
    Likes Received:
    45
    Namaste HK,

    yes, he is a prolific writer...

    but, as they say in the academic world..... "publish or perish" ;)

    metta,

    ~v
     
  5. alphone

    alphone New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm also interested in Thomas Cleary since he translated the 80 volumes' Avatamsaka Sutra and some Taoist Scriptures, but sadly none of his works is fully published online for free.
     
  6. alphone

    alphone New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm also interested in Thomas Cleary since he translated the 80 volumes' Avatamsaka Sutra and some Taoist Scriptures, but sadly none of his works is fully published online for free.
     
  7. alphone

    alphone New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm also interested in Thomas Cleary since he translated the 80 volumes' Avatamsaka Sutra and some Taoist Scriptures, but sadly none of his works is fully published online for free.
     
  8. lucius

    lucius New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cleary's I Ching translation differs from most others such as Wilhelm, Legge, Douglas etc quite a bit. So much so that almost opposite meanings are derived from some of the lines. Cleary gives no indication as to why the lines have the meanings appended to them as do the other serious translators. Personally, since I cannot read the Chinese original, I tend to go with the others, who tend to concur.

    On the other hand, Cleary's style is quite good in places, although a bit strained elsewhere.
    One thing I do like in his version is the use of the term 'cultured people' as opposed to 'superior man' used by Wilhelm and Legge. Probably though that has more to do with shifting cultural attitiudes in the west than the ancient text itself.
    I think overall,Cleary has left his own personal imprint on his translation - and that may be quaint, but not particularly objective, and hence not very useful for the serious student.
     

Share This Page