Chinese classics spark global discussions

(Photo/People’s Daily Overseas Edition)

The Chinese classic Tao Te Ching was the most popular book among foreign readers in 2018 regarding its readership and the number of book reviews, closely followed by Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

The Tao Te Ching, which has a history of over 2,500 years, became accessible to foreign readers less than 300 years ago. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that the book gained popularity overseas.

By the end of 2018, there were about 7,100 research papers and articles on the book in languages including English, German, French, and Spanish. Among Chinese classics, The Tao Te Ching is the most internationally researched.

By the end of last year, the book had been translated into more than 50 languages. The most welcomed English version of the book, translated by English translator of Taoist classics, Gia-Fu Feng, and his wife Jane English, received 3,536 comments from readers on Goodreads and Amazon as of 2018, making it the most commented on Chinese book among overseas readers.

Some readers said they gained inner tranquility and experienced the beauty of Chinese thinking; others said the book had changed their view on happiness, the world and how to get along with other people.

The book has even been compared to The Gospel Book, with some readers saying that unlike the latter, The Tao Te Ching reflects religious diversity as it doesn’t make comparisons between religious theories.

(Photo/People’s Daily Overseas Edition)

The Art of War was introduced to the world in 1772 according to historical documents. Lionel Giles translated the most authoritative English version from the Chinese original.

By the end of 2018, the book had been translated into 30 languages including English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Italian.

The military classic, written 2,500 years ago, offers experience and advice in company management, marketing, business negotiations, international trade, stock and investment.

The book enjoys 4,631 positive comments out of around 5,000 comments on Goodreads and Amazon, and teaches people about perseverance, self-discipline, how to handle disputes, and develop their creativity.

Some readers said the book was even better than the Bible in some aspects as it still offers life guidance today.

The readers’ comments have shown that Chinese thinking and wisdom have nurtured not only the Chinese nation, but also become a shared spiritual asset to people around the world.