|I've been using the Yijing for somewhere between 15 and 20 years, now. Until a couple of years ago, I always used Wilhelm's translation - but then a friend who has been using the Yi for at least 40 years told me that he thought Wilhelm's translation was next to useless, and suggested that I use Stephen Karcher's translation (published as "Total I Ching" - death to Giles-Wade! Long live Pinyin!). So I bought myself a copy of Karcher's Yi - at first I did not trust it. I'd become so used to Wilhelm, that any other version would have felt 'wrong'. But I persevered, and after two or three months, came to vastly prefer it to Wilhelm. Now, I use it all the time - sometimes I dip back into Wilhelm, when confused over the meaning of a line, and always find that his interpretation is much muddier and harder to understand than Karcher's (for instance, hexagram 26 - Wilhelm calls it "The Taming Power of the Great", whereas Karcher calls it "Great Accumulates", and backs up his translation with reference to the actual Chinese characters that make up the hexagram's name - I don't want to get bogged down too much in details, here, so suffice it to say that Karcher's interpretation is much better, since it takes into account the fact that the characters contain a pictogram of a field with things growing in it).|
Also, I find Wilhelm's translation to be absolutely brimful of misogyny, which I am glad to have left behind me. The first example of this sort misogyny to come to my mind is in hexagram 37 - Wilhelm's translation of line 2 reads "She should not follow her whims. She must attend within to the food." - Karcher, on the other hand, translates this line as "Have no concern for achievements or glory. Locate yourself in the centre and feed the people." Having moved away from Wilhelm, I never cease to be amazed at how people who in every other aspect of their lives cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as misogynists, swallow this rubbish, and pass over a line that says, essentially (in Wilhelm), "a woman's place is in the kitchen" (although I should also point out that when the line speaks of "her whims", it is implying that women's desires are not serious, but merely trifling "whims") without their bullshit detectors going off.
I also like the way that Karcher has kept Confucius at arms' length. There was always something about the phrase "the superior man" that made me shudder. There's the "man" thing, to begin with (why not woman?), but also the "superior" bit - I'm deeply uncomfortable with the the way Wilhelm's Yi attempts to make it's users feel superior to other people. This "superior man" stuff comes from Confucius, though, to be fair to Wilhelm. The Chinese term is "Junzi", which Karcher translates as "noble one", which I find much less loaded. That said, Karcher does not throw out the baby with the bathwater, and brings Confucius into the equation when Confucius has something useful to say. For instance, in the second line of hexagram 13, I've always found Confucius' commentary to be both highly poetic and illuminating. Karcher does not ditch Confucius, in this instance, but references the passage to which I'm referring, here. In case your interested, Confucius says, of this line:
"Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings. Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again. Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words, there the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence. But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts, they shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze. And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts, their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids." (beautiful, huh?)
None of what I say here is to suggest either that Wilhelm's translation is completely without worth (I used it for many years, and feel that the Yi still managed to speak through his distortions of it), or that Karcher has come up with the 'final' or 'best' translation of the Yi. There are things about Karcher that deeply irritate me - I find that his philosophy borders, at times, upon the New Age, and get particularly annoyed at his repeated use of the phrase "turn conflict into creative tension", for instance. I also think there's times when he makes mythical connections that are simply not present in the original text: hexagram 3, for instance, shows a picture of a seedling piercing through the soil to climb up into the light: Karcher connects this image with the World Tree, although to me the World Tree is completely irrelevant to the hexagram, which is concerned with the tenderness and delicacy of beginnings (for once, Wilhelm's version of the hexagram's general meaning is probably more spot-on than Karcher's). But despite Karcher's shortcomings, I can hand on heart say that I think it's a much better translation than Wilhelm.
None of this is intended to belittle anyone's use of Wilhelm's Yi, you understand. I just wanted to outline my own experience of the two versions, and the conclusions I've come to after using both.