The first Tao Te Ching I ever saw was the Paul Carus edition of 1898, bound in yellow cloth stamped with blue and red Chinese designs and characters. It was a venerable object of mystery, which I soon investigated, and found more fascinating inside than out. The book was my father’s; he read in it often. Once I saw him marking notes from it and asked what he was doing. He said he was marking which chapters he’d like to have read at his funeral. We did read those chapters at his memorial service.
I have the book, now ninety-eight years old and further ornamented with red binding-tape to hold the back on, and have marked which chapters I’d like to have read at my funeral.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, “Introduction,” Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way (1997)
To live till you die
is to live long enough.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, w/J.P. Seaton, trans., Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way (1997)