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.