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Paperback Monkey : A Journey to the West Book

ISBN: 0877736529

ISBN13: 9780877736523

Monkey : A Journey to the West

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Part Spiritual Pilgrimage, Part Historical Epic, the folk novel Journey to the West, which came to be known as Monkey, is the most popular classic of Asian literature. Originally written in the sixteenth century, it is the story of the adventures of the rogue-trickster Monkey and his encounters with a bizarre cast of characters as he travels to India with the Buddhist pilgrim Tripitaka in search of sacred scriptures. Much more then a picaresque adventure...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Journey to the West or Monkey Review

When reading Journey to the West or Monkey one would be so engrossed by the tantalizing action, the fairy-tale like settings, and animated characters that one would forget that there are many layers to this book. It is a fairytale as well as a satire and a historical fiction based on the true events of Tan San Zang (Tripitaka in the book). With the outline of Tan San Zang's pilgrimage to India to fetch Buddhist scriptures during the arts and cultural Bronze Age of China, the Tang Dynasty, Journey to the West expands his perilous journey over the Gobi desert, Kyrgyzstan, and other Silk Road routes to India in an ingenious way. As a satire, Monkey unleashes the imagination against the cultural backdrop of China. It plays on the three major religions and ways of thinking of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism and blatantly and playfully laughs at them. Like a good joke, one who pokes fun at oneself- it is not hard to see why Monkey has become a favorite Chinese classic touching every mind, young and old. Other than being a satire, like most fables and fairytales, Journey to the West has imbedded moral values that can be found. The characters are fictionalized, except for Tripitaka, and are governed with checks-and-balances. Tripitaka is not too far-fetched from the original Tan San Zang conducting the same pilgrimage, yet he is portrayed as a feeble monk who often "cries like a woman" but his tenderness can move his disciples. Monkey or Sun Wu Kong is witty and the most powerful of Tripitaka's disciples, yet his downfall is his arrogance. Pigsy, another disciple is slow but he is none-the-less loyal and brave. Sandy, also one of the three disciples is mostly along for the ride but he represents sincerity. Even though a big part of their journey is out of this world, taking place in the heavens, the underworld, or under-the-sea worlds, their lively characters embodying their flaws and assets can be related to by anyone who tried to get along with another person. Lastly, the translation of the book by the famous Arthur Waley preserves the comical essence of the book. Furthermore, the most important sequences of Journey to the West can be found and enjoyed in his translation of Monkey.

The inspiration for the TV Series" Monkey"

I just love the TV series monkey and the book is just as interesting. I found a really old copy at a junk sale. Before that I had no idea of the origin of the series. I just thought is was an amusing variation on samurai, ninja type themes. The original text is, however, the reason for the depth of philosophical thought which the series contains. I have no idea whether the philosophy goes into kids heads, or straight over them, but they seem to love it and the book makes great bedtime reading for children who love the series.

Buddha of Precocious Merit

In the preface to his translation, Waley tells us that the author of MONKEY lived between 1505 and 1585 A.D. The protagonist of the tales, Tripitaka was a real person, better known to history as Hsuan Tang, who lived in the seventh century A.D. There were contemporary accounts of Hsuan Tang's pilgrimage. These accounts, along with a cycle of fantastic legends that began appearing around the tenth century A.D. and the stage presentations which began in the thirteenth century provided the source material for Wu Ch'eng-en's wonderful tales. (This is Waley's spelling.)The first seven chapters are dedicated to telling Monkey's story up until the time he became Tripitaka's disciple. Monkey, mostly through trickery has become more powerful than most of the gods and has rebelled against them until he is finally overpowered and imprisoned in a block of stone. He is freed in order to become the first of the three disciples.In chapters eight through twelve we are introduced to Hsuan Tsang (Tripitaka) and learn about the origins of his pilgrimage to India. The balance of the one hundred chapters are dedicated to the pilgrimage itself.Early in the pilgrimage, Tripitaka acquires two additional disciples, Pigsy and Sandy. Each of the three disciples has been placed in Tripitaka's path by the gods, and each has unique magical powers. Without these powers, and the support and encouragement of these sometimes reluctant disciples, the pilgrimage would never have been completed, as there are no end of dangers, evil-doers, and monsters to overcome, and because Tripitaka is a rather weak and timid pilgrim who needs constant encouragement.The pilgrimage does end successfully and Tripitaka and each of his disciples are rewarded in heaven as follows:Tripitaka becomes the "Buddha of Special Merit." Monkey becomes the "Buddha Victorious in Strife." Pigsy becomes "Cleanser of the Altar." and Sandy becomes the "Golden Bodied Arhat."As is befitting for a book about a spiritual, though physically challenging, adventure the author ends by dedicating these hundred chapters to "the glory of Buddha's pure land."We are told that these tales are for the entertainment of children and adults alike. While I agree that this is true of the content of the tales, it is my opinion that reading this translation would be difficult for young children. There are translations available that are written in more child friendly language. For any reader of mythology, MONKEY should be a welcome addition to your reading list.

Amazingly Funny / Witty / Deep Novel

I was expecting a mildly amusing but somewhat slow-going novel when I picked up Monkey for my class in Chinese Literature. But I could not put it down and finished the whole of it in two sittings! This book is as much of a page turner as any modern novel, using everything from cunning plot turns to end-of-chapter guises ("And if you don't know what became of them, you must listen to what is told in the next chapter.") to absolutely hilarious anecdotes. (I laughed aloud at the "Taoist Holy Water" episode!) An amazingly well-crafted novel with a very very fluid translation that makes it an absolute delight to read. Again: I could not put this book down! The fight scenes were also spectacular...[still panting, having just finished the book]...you must read this book! =)

The best book I've ever read in my life....so far.

One of the best books I've read in all my life. The characters have been borrowed and turned into many different characters in film and animation, but to read the original makes all the imitations pale in comparison. Minus a few chapters, Mr. Waley has achieved the unthinkable: the best western translation of one of China's best kept secrets. A stone monkey, brought to life by the powers of heaven and earth and how he was never satisfied until he got everything he wanted, by any means neccesary. Top notch!
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