Thomas Cleary

Dan Lusthaus dlusthau at MAILER.FSU.EDU
Thu Feb 25 02:47:17 UTC 1999

  I read that Thomas Cleary got his PhD from Stanford university
> in Chinese literature.

The Cleary Brothers got PhDs from Harvard, if I am not mistaken, and
collaborated on a translation of the Zen classic, the Blue Cliff Record,
which is a nice translation. Since then, Thomas has not maintained what
most scholars would consider academic rigor. His translations are fast and
loose, often informed by concerns and ideas that are not in the original
text. He doesn't translate terms consistently, and uses odd and misleading
equivalents for technical terms (e.g., on one page of Entry into the
Inconceivable he used three or four different English 'translations' for fa
[dharma], none of which would signal to an informed reader that the
original text said fa).  He omits sections without informing the reader,
rarely provides citations for sources, etc.

His books sell well, and he certainly has a following, but not among academics.

Dan Lusthaus
Florida State University

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