Read Journey to the West (4-Volume Boxed Set) by Wu Cheng'en W.J.F. Jenner Online

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First published in 1952, The Journey to the West, volume I, comprises the first twenty-five chapters of Anthony C. Yu's four-volume translation of Hsi-yu Chi, one of the most beloved classics of Chinese literature. The fantastic tale recounts the sixteen-year pilgrimage of the monk Hsüan-tsang (596-664), one of China's most illustrious religious heroes, who journeyed to InFirst published in 1952, The Journey to the West, volume I, comprises the first twenty-five chapters of Anthony C. Yu's four-volume translation of Hsi-yu Chi, one of the most beloved classics of Chinese literature. The fantastic tale recounts the sixteen-year pilgrimage of the monk Hsüan-tsang (596-664), one of China's most illustrious religious heroes, who journeyed to India with four animal disciples in quest of Buddhist scriptures. For nearly a thousand years, his exploits were celebrated and embellished in various accounts, culminating in the hundred-chapter Journey to the West, which combines religious allegory with romance, fantasy, humor, and satire....

Title : Journey to the West (4-Volume Boxed Set)
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9787119016634
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 2346 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Journey to the West (4-Volume Boxed Set) Reviews

  • Kevin
    2019-01-29 22:44

    On hold since Summer 2006, I'm done with 3 1/2 volumes of this.I hope to finish before I die. 9/14/07:Seriously, I should finish this.10/4/07:No kidding.10/29/07:Give it some time.12/9/07:Wait for it...2/6/08:Uh...4/6/08:I've read another chapter!5/22/08:Guys, really.6/17/08:I've read another bit.7/10/08:This is getting ridiculous9/30/08:What the hell.4/25/09:I don't think this is ever going to be finished.7/26/09:Except, by some miracle, I HAVE FINALLY FINISHED.7/27/09:I've downgraded it from a 5 to a 4, not because of any flaw in the plot (which I hold to be one of the best in general), but because the writing simply lacks that bit of finesse in most Western literature. This is to be expected though, because of rough translations. I'm sure if I could read Chinese and then read the original in Chinese, I would make it a 5.

  • Dave
    2019-02-15 18:31

    Hiroshi Saito translationHeaven ArcThe lesson of the this, the prequel section that sets up the main story, is that you can be an enormous asshole and you'll totally get your way, at least until you piss off Buddha.Earth ArcYou can continue to be an enormous ass and mouth off to gods as long as you nominally do what they say and use some more polite language.Water ArcThe gang's all here now. It's imporant who's around when you get your divine punishment. Sometimes they shave your head and take your necklace of skulls. Sometimes you just get a new name.Wizard ArcIt's totally ok to eat fruit that looks like babies. Though if you mess up the orchard you may need to ask a bodhisattva for some gardening tips. Just don't go killing monsters masquerading as old folks unless you've got good proof. That's a good way to get excommunicated.Treasure ArcDon't trust boars. They lie a lot. If you're ever excommunicated, a daring rescue is always a good way to get back into your master's good graces. Keep any imporant documents away from boars; they are always hungry. It's hard when your co-workers are useless and you have to do all the work yourself. But at least you get to feel clever. Past acquaintances have a funny way of showing up in new guises. The stove boy is an inexplicably talented swordsman.King ArcBodhisattvas are basically really touchy and tend to overreact, so be careful around them. They think nothing of having their pet lion push you into a well and keeping your corpse down there for three years while you think about what you've done. And said pet will be impersonating you the whole time, by the way; at least it doesn't have a thing for your wife.If you're having trouble with a yokai that happens to be the son of an old friend, it's understandable that you don't just want to kill them; it will make things so much harder to deal with though. However, you can always get a bodhisattva to do your dirty work for you. It helps when the yokai has been badmouthing the bodhisattva behind its back. You know how touchy those bodhisattvas are. As has been previously established, their efforts at disciplining the unruly usually involves a new hairdo.Dragon ArcSeriously, why are monks so delicious? If a minor dragon kidnaps your master, you can always go drink tea with his uncle while he sends people to take care of the problem for you.Religious strife is nothing new; these taoists can't seem to get enough of oppressing monks. Then again, the three main taoists are really yokai and they aren't talking about their dark pasts, so who knows why they're being so stubborn. The fact that your brother just tricked them into drinking his urine is not helping matters. They will keep on challenging you to increasingly ridiculous contests until they eventually kill themselves. You did try to stop them, but you'll still feel bad about it.Peaches still taste delicious.

  • Helmut
    2019-02-07 18:47

    Fantastically entertainingI am always astonished how readable and accessible are those old Chinese classical books. I've stated that for The Marshes of Mount Liang, and it's even more true for the 西遊記 Xiyouji, or "Journey to the West". Dating back to the 16th century, it's as readable as if it was only written a few decades ago. Of course, there are some stylistic quirks you have to get accustomed to - retelling of a just happened event by another person, formulaic plot elements, and the wordiness that blows up this novel to its daunting 2500 pages.But these are minor quibbles which should not distract you from enjoying this novel, because it is otherwise outstanding. Everybody will find something loveable within this book, be the reader looking for an exiting adventure yarn with many action scenes, for shining heroes and ugly villains, or for a funny and at the same time profound, tongue-in-cheek social novel with loads of obstinate, naive monks, insidious tricksters and corrupt officials. Even for those seeking spiritual enlightenment, there is enough stuff in the novel, from buddhism over taoism to confucianism. Never dry or boring, everything is told with a very potent humor.Jenner's translation is vivid and lively and captures the Monkey King's chaotic and active personality perfectly in a modern language, without modernisms or antiquarianisms. The ubiquitous poems have not been forced into English end rhymes but remain freely rhymed (rhymed poems always break the flow of reading for me), and they have a different indention than the rest of the text.The novel is split in 4 volumes, each of them the size of a standard paperback. The paper is the typical Foreign Languages Press paper, which means very thin and translucent.This novel will bring you hours of high-quality entertainment with a touch of sophistication. If you liked it, you should also read the aforementioned "The Marshes of Mount Liang" and The Sorcerer's Revolt, and maybe have a look at Three Kingdoms as well. If the page count should discourage you - Arthur Waley's Monkey condenses the 2500 pages in an honest manner (not always true for abridgements!) into a more palatable 300 pages.

  • Matt
    2019-01-30 15:20

    2/6/15 - Finished Volume 1 (of 4). This is a fascinating mythic journey so far. This first volume is almost more of a prologue, for those wondering how much of a journey this is going to turn out to be, out of 25 chapters, the first 7 make up the origin story of Monkey, and the next five of the monk Sanzang who at least so far appears to be the actual hero of the story, journeying to the west to receive the scriptures from the Buddha and bring them back to the Tang Emperor. I would love to read some works on comparative literature looking at this and some western works such as the Iliad, and Dante. There's an amazing journey through the underworld, and some really funny trouble-making by Monkey and the other disciples Sanzang picks up along the way. Volume 1 ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, I'm looking forward to seeing where Volume 2 takes me.2/24/15 - Finished Volume 2. I'm about halfway through, and not tired of the story yet. I'm starting to get a better feel for the humor, much of which comes from the character of Pig, his laziness, and his conflicts with Monkey. It's fascinating to see how the story manages to come up with varieties of challenges for the travelers to face, though there is a persistent theme of monsters catching Sanzang, and planning to eat him once they've finished dealing with his angry disciples. The editor has done a pretty effective job of ending each volume on a bit of a cliffhanger, which helps the reader maintain their momentum going forward.3/29/15 - Finished Volume 3. This is the volume where the threats and challenges have gotten weirder than just a strong opponent who Monkey has to defeat. There are more enemies where Monkey has to explicitly call for significant assistance, and there are conflicts that are more complicated than the standard "fighting for 40 or 50 rounds" cycle. Once again, this volume ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.4/28/15 - Finished Volume 4. Sanzang's journey to the west took 14 years, mine took 4 months. It was totally worth it. This is an amazing epic. Weird, and silly, with a structure that is clearly built up from the oral tradition from which it originated. I know there's an abridged version in English that's been published by a more mainstream publisher, and I'd like to check it out sometime to see how the translation differs, but the sheer bulk of this complete edition lent it an immersive quality that strengthened the impact of the story.

  • Anh
    2019-02-14 21:33

    Finally, it came to an end. 3 months. Books like this should be the slow reads that are done along side with other shorter, faster-paced books.To be honest, I hadn't expected much when I started: I watched every TV series version available maybe a zillion times before. I believed that I practically know everything about this Journey.But perhaps my memories blurred, or that they were the little details that I never noticed when I was sitting in front of the b/w 14" television when I was 5; or perhaps it's because the translator did a terrific job. Perhaps because reading brings different experiences from watching: the liberty to pause and ponder on whatever I want to, the liberty to change to another book that suits my moods better. Anyway, I enjoyed the story very much, and "discovered" many things new. The conversations between enemies are somewhat hilarious, I even found the wording done with a good sense of humor and refinement.The adventure itself is not completely interesting. It's boring, in fact. But once you learn how to ignore the repetition to see and enjoy the dialogues, the folklores… you'll see why it's a classic. Boring, yet enjoyable. Just like textbooks.I also appreciate the 1986 tv series adaption(s). Many things were modified, maybe totally skipped, maybe exaggerated, and that brought more colors to the original story.

  • Nathan
    2019-02-12 21:37

    Translator W.J.F. Jenner says :: "Because this was a book written for entertainment and pleasure I did not want it cluttered with footnotes. I reckoned that as long as readers were being carried along by the story, they did not want to be distracted by an annotator plucking at their sleeves, and explaining the countless Buddhist, Daoist and other references. Those who do want the scholarly paraphernalia can always turn to Anthony C. Yu's version."More to the point, here's a piece by Jenner ::'Journeys to the East, “Journey to the West” by W J F Jenner'https://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/jou...

  • Feiyu Yin
    2019-01-25 20:39

    西游记对我的影响很大,但是之前我对西游记的主要认识主要来自于六小龄童版的西游记电视剧。很长一段时间以来我一直把这电视剧默认为西游记本身,对其中的情节,人设从未产生一丝的怀疑。直到读了原著之后我才发现电视剧与原著出入颇多,其中不乏很多有意思的事实。第一点,剧里的三位徒弟的形象都是骗人的。老板电视剧里的美猴王真的是英姿飒爽,威风八面,五官标致,身段修长。而原著的“美猴王”就徒有虚名了。直到现在还难以接受一个身高只有四尺,雷公脸的猢狲竟然是原型。而猪八戒也没有那么皮白肉嫩,憨态可掬。真实的他是满嘴獠牙,皮肤黝黑粗糙,背后有一溜又硬又长的钢毛的存在。他并非家猪而是大野猪,猪刚鬣这个名字才是老猪的真正名号。再说沙和尚,以前并不明白为甚么小妖精向老怪报告的时候总说“大王不好啦,有三个和尚打破山门了!一个雷公脸,一个长嘴大耳朵还有一个晦气脸”,这“晦气脸”从何而来?原来沙和尚的皮肤竟然是靛蓝色的,这在古代是一种不被人喜欢的晦气的颜色。不但如此,他还有一张血盆大口,这和剧里老实本分的庄稼人的形象简直是天差地别。此三人原著里的形象是更科学的。因为从本质上来说,他们在这一世全都是妖怪,与别的妖怪不同处在于他们接受了观音菩萨的offer,护送取经人而已。没有道理说别的妖怪都是凶神恶煞,而惟独这三个妖怪面容和善,和蔼可亲。说了说颜值上的出入,再来谈一谈性格方面的。孙悟空和猪八戒绝对是当时的吐槽帝,取经路上如果没有他们的互黑互坑,那旅途将会很少了很多欢乐。大圣一方面非常骄傲自大,把任何妖怪都不放在眼里。另一方面有有些悲观。遇到一些难过的坎也会泪流满面、怨天尤人,也曾经想过放弃。他的这些忧愁主要来自于对取经的责任感。八戒则很少落泪,神经比较大条。在他眼里看来取得真经固然是功德一件,但山穷水恶,路途艰险。取不到真经也不丢人,他仍旧可以回去做他的高家贤婿,对取经是可有可无的态度。不得不说唐僧是师徒四人中取经信念最坚定的。尽管每次命悬一线的是他,被妖怪吓得魂飞魄散掉下马来也是他,取经的动力却从未消减。但让我失望的是他的这份信念大部分其实是来自于对皇权的绝对服从而非对佛法的虔诚。这一点可以从他的话语中推断出,他经常挂在嘴边的一句话就是,若取不到真经如何向皇兄交代?想当年唐僧向李世民许下宏愿,如若完成不了那可是欺君之罪。这师徒四人的关系也是妙趣横生。这古代的徒弟真是不容易,简直就是小厮加丫鬟加保镖加长工,师父就是老爷。担子有人挑,下马有人扶,渴了饿了有人找水化斋,被人绑了有人舍命相救,可以说什么事都不用做。而作为所谓的师父,唐僧可是一点义务都没尽到。他从未教徒弟门打坐参禅,念经拜佛,连教导的话都很少说。怪不得历经十三寒暑三个劣徒没一点长进。而且谁要是把唐僧惹毛了,他是会恶语相向的,这哪有一点高僧的样子。最后有趣的一点是,以前觉得齐天大圣大闹天宫,猴哥太牛了,简直天下无敌。其实不是大圣厉害,而是天宫太菜,唐僧师徒取经路上遇到的妖魔我估计随便来一个就能再闹一遍天宫。后来降伏牛魔王那一节,场面比大闹天宫大多了,感觉全书所有的神仙都组团来捉牛,最后飞了老鼻子劲才把老牛打趴下。牛魔王不愧是十三太保排行第一,孙悟空单挑他肯定是打不过的。最后的最后实在要感叹下西游记的神级构架。师徒四人西天取经,降妖伏魔,历尽艰险,终于取得真经的这种architecture真是高明。其extendability,flexibility,readability,maintainability都是五颗星,剧情之间loosely coupled,highly modular,每一个entity有自己独有的functionality,duplication极低,interface又这么friendly。怪不得它永远都不会deprecated。

  • Greg
    2019-01-28 18:25

    I'm torn about whether I should rate this higher. I really liked it, and it's a must read for anyone who likes fighting mangas. This is the granddaddy--a bunch of idiots who don't like each other very much get stuck on a long journey where they have to face increasingly dangerous or outlandish obstacles to retrieve the true scriptures from a Buddha. The Monkey King (grandfather of such characters as Goku and Monkey D. Luffy) uses a combination of martial skills, cunning, and a large network of "friends" who are afraid of getting hit by Monkey's iron cudgel to save his master over and over again. Along the way, the three nimrod disciples Monkey, Pig, and Friar Sand (this translation may name them differently) are constantly trying to play "tricks" on each other, like getting their compatriots in trouble with the master (or getting them steamed and eaten by vicious Taoist monsters.)I landed on 3 stars because it's so long and so repetitive. It's not slow, but how many times can one guy get captured by a monster when he ignores good advice and then get saved after a number of false starts by his three stupid disciples?

  • Pauline
    2019-01-25 19:38

    One of the Four Great Literary pieces of China and my favorite tale of the four. Through and through, it is a epic tale similar to the Iliad or the Odyssey. The prose takes some getting used to as it is not written in any stylistic matter at all. Rather, it told in tales with each chapter being a new story and event that occurs during the journey to the West. Due to this, I am sure that there are people who would struggle though this. Nevertheless, this tale has always been a part of my culture and for that simple reason alone I love it.

  • Christine Racine
    2019-01-26 16:29

    This four volume translation that clearly involved no native English speakers is not for everyone. It's a lot of fun if you enjoy the unintentional absurdity inherent in too literal translation. For the most part, the rollicking story shines through the odd syntax, which only obscures beyond hope the meaning of a few sentences here and there.

  • Greg Kerestan
    2019-01-25 19:36

    I'm giving this one four stars for how much I liked it, and five stars for the impact I know it's had and my respect for it. I started reading this one the summer of my freshman year of college, put it down almost immediately as a "return when I have more time" book. After picking it up repeatedly to try and finish but getting no further, I finally decided to tackle it this summer. So, here I am."Journey to the West" is a difficult book to categorize. I know it's a symbolic allegory, but as someone who doesn't have a huge background in medieval Taoism vs. Buddhism, some of the symbolism was lost on me. What it reads like is a very, VERY long fairy tale crossed with an adventure comic. After an initial period of exposition, we get into the adventures of cocky trickster Monkey, strong but stupid Pig, level-headed Friar Sand and merciful but wimpy Sanzang as they journey from China to India, doing good deeds and fighting demons. Being between 2000 and 4000 pages, some of this winds up becoming formulaic after a while, but it's still fun. Anyone who grew up playing 90s video games or watching "Dragon Ball" will recognize a few of these characters: Monkey is clearly the inspiration for Goku, and lesser figures like Ox King and Turtle appear as themselves.

  • Isen
    2019-01-27 19:48

    The book consists of 100 chapters. The first seven deal with the tale of Monkey's revolt against heaven. A stone monkey is born on the Eastern Continent, becomes the monkey king, and travels west to attain immortality. He is taught by a Taoist master who warns him never to reveal how it was that he attained his powers, and prophesises that in 500 years he will be struck down by heaven lest he finds a way to escape his fate. None of this ever comes up again, because an overarching theme of the book is a contempt for continuity.This takes us to the main section of the book. The Buddhist priest Sanzang is tasked by the Bodhisattva Guanyin to travel to distant India (36,000 miles, or 1.5 times around the world) to worship the Buddha and retrieve some Buddhist scriptures, as a test of his faith. The "divinity testing mortals" trope is stupid in the best of times, but unfortunately this is not the best of times. This is Journey to the West. As such, in order to assists Sanzang on this "test" he is allotted three immortal companions -- Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand -- a dragon horse, an arsenal of magical artifacts, and some two dozen attendant gods. When that proves insufficient, as it often does, the Jade Emperor and his heavenly hosts, Lord Lao Zi, the Buddha from the Western Heaven, and Guanyin herself turn up to rescue him from the predicaments he winds up in. To make things worse, it is revealed that some or all of the obstacles in his path have, in fact, been placed there by Guanyin. So in other words this "test" of Sanzang's faith involves of Guanyin setting up problems, and then solving them herself. How this is any different from bringing the scriptures over on her own is anyone's guess.This is just as well for the sake of the story, however, as Sanzang is completely useless, and would fail any test set before him when given the chance. Not only do his disciples save him from every peril he, seemingly intentionally, blunders into during his quest, even the banal details like begging for food and carrying the luggage is left to the immortals, while Sanzang sits on his horse doing nothing. I can accept that, being a mortal, he does not have any magical powers himself and has to rely on his disciples to do the heavy lifting for him, but it's not like he has any redeeming features to make up for it. He is an utter moron, and completely incapable of learning, falling for the same tricks again and again. He is a coward, and falls of his horse whenever someone looks at him funny (not to mention the time he spent an hour gathering up the courage to talk to some women. "Primal masculinity" indeed). And, despite the book going on about his virtue, in his interactions with other characters he frequently comes across as an asshole.The adventures themselves are dull and repetitive. They follow the formula of, the pilgrims come to a mountain/river, Monkey warns of a demon, Sanzang abuses Monkey, demon captures Sanzang and tries to eat/mate with him (but doesn't actually, even if given more than enough time), Monkey either whacks the demon on the head with a cudgel, or goes and gets another divinity to whack the demon on the head with a cudgel. Repeat 81 times. In the afterword the translator mentions that we cannot reasonably expect any suspense from the stories because the pilgrims triumph in the end, but it's a lot worse than that -- we know that Arnie will eventually shoot the badguy, but at the same time there is risk involved: if he gets shot in the head he would die. Not Monkey. Monkey is indestructible, as he points out and demonstrates on many an occasion. The problem is no that we know in advance that Monkey won't fail, but rather that failure is impossible. Monkey can't die, and even if Sanzang were to die then Monkey has demonstrated that he is perfectly capable of bringing the dead back to life. His powers are so vast, that there is absolutely nothing that could stop him.Which brings us to the next problem, the magic overload. Monkey's powers are so enormous that the author simply cannot come up with any credible challenges to him. At the end of the day, he could simply fly Sanzang to the Western Heaven and be done with it (the author does attempt to lampshade this -- "Mortals are heavier than mountains" -- only problem is, Monkey is perfectly capable of transporting Sanzang and other mortals by air when it suits him, as are other monsters. Oh, and, Monkey is perfectly capable of lifting mountains). The translator notes that the appeal of the stories is the cleverness of Monkey's solution to them, but it's hard to appreciate this cleverness when Monkey's choice of strategy is dictated not by the challenge he faced, but by the author's decision to write about one ploy or another. In one adventure Monkey knocks down the gates of a monster's abode. In another he turns into an insect and flies through the gap. In another he stands outside helpless. Why? Are these gates unbreakable? Are there no cracks to squeeze through? No, no reason is given. We can only assume the gates are the same as always. It's just that the author decided that this particular adventure needs a McGuffin of some sort. Or the intervention of another deity. Or, just, that the book is somehow not long enough as it is.Of course, this makes it difficult to interpret the situations in which Monkey actually does find himself powerless to defeat one monster or other. Monkey made war on heaven, and only just lost. And now some animal spirit on the way to India is stronger than Monkey? Just how tenuous is the Jade Emperor's hold on authority? Why does none of these monsters depose him and be done with it?The most interesting bit of the book is the translator's note at the end, which details some of the book's history, confirming the reader's suspicion that it is most likely a collection of independent stories than a cohesive whole. However, unlike the translator I do not believe that this lets the book of the hook for being terrible. Good stories need no excuses, they can stand against the best of novels on their own strengths. This is simply not a good collection of stories.

  • Czarny Pies
    2019-01-20 22:31

    The Journey to the West is one of the four great classics of Chinese literature. As an English translation runs to over 1800 pages tackling it seems to be as daunting a task as reading all of Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. In fact W.J. Jenner's fabulous translation turns the thing into a fabulous comic romp.The Journey to the West is the epic of how the Monk Tang Sanzang conducts a 14 year voyage to India in order to obtain Buddhist scriptures to bring back to China and thus spiritually redeem the Chinese. Sanzang is accompanied by three disciples on his voyage: San Wukong (a monkey with the agility of Spiderman, the sauciness of Bugs Bunny and the brains of Einstein; Zhu Bajie (a pig with the thirst of Boris Yeltsin and the sexual appetite of Bill Clinton); and finally Friar Sand a discreet monk.Sanzang is in his 10th reincarnation at the start of the journey. Male demons want to eat him because they believe that they will attain immortality by doing so. Female demons want to have sex with him so as to deprive him of his virginity which he has maintained through 10 reincarnations.Throughout the journey Sanzang the leader proves to be a dolt at every turn blithely walking into 81 traps set for him by evil demons. His disciples rally around to rescue him on all 81 occasions. On the 81st rescue which is the magic square of nine, the journey is complete. Sanzang arrives in India with his body in one piece and his virginity intact. He receives the sacred scriptures. The four companions then return to China in 8 days. Sanzang and the monkey become Buddhas while the other two disciples receive lesser honours. Jenner makes this all wildly funny.Just as Westerners seldom read through the complete Grimm Brothers or Hans Christian Anderson in one go, the Chinese do not as a rule read all of the journey to the west at once. Every child, however, will know some of the stories. My advice is to get the book and read stories from time to time as the spirit moves you.

  • Phạm Hà
    2019-01-24 20:21

    Back when I was really young and had nothing to do, I read the whole set a few times. I only remember bits of the stories with epic battles, or Son Wu-kong's incredible magical abilities. This time when I re-read it, I am now able to pick up more subtleties in the stories and dialogues, like the author's satire of China's society, corruption of authority which invades even holy temples, or the philosophy of Budhism... I also grew to appreciate the translators' effort - they were able to recreate the tale as faithfully and and beautifully as possible while inserting their own witty humors into every pages.Highly recommended.

  • Hank
    2019-02-20 14:35

    A simple but probably one of the better translations of the old story of a Journey to the West, or Sun Wu'kong, as it may be called otherwheres. Stories like this are rare to find these days, and filled with a touch of history that makes a slow read if you want to understand it all, but immensely rich in depth if you do learn it all.

  • David Peterson
    2019-02-09 18:29

    Talk about a long, strange trip… Journey to the West is, by far, the longest book I’ve ever read (my edition was over 2,000 pages divided into 100 chapters), and certainly one of the most unique. It is considered one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, and of those, is probably the most fantastical. It took me five years to read, but it was well, well worth it.I’ve got quite a lot to say about this book, so either strap yourself in, or leave this review for later. This one’s going to be a doozy…Let’s take it from the top. What is this book?Calling Journey to the West a novel, and suggesting that it was written by Wu Cheng’en is a bit misleading. While it’s true that Wu Cheng’en is the most likely author of this particular version of the story, he was by no means the first—nor did he invent this tale wholecloth. Instead, the version of the story we have today can be considered the endpoint of centuries of collaboration and oral history passed down from generation to generation.The story of Journey to the West was inspired by an actual journey. In the seventh century, a monk named Xuanzang was said to have traveled from China to India to obtain the Buddhist scriptures for the Tang emperor. It took him seventeen years, and he even wrote an autobiography, so there’s plenty of detail about his journey (and was at the time this book was being compiled). Nevertheless, fantastic stories began springing up from all corners about his adventures traveling from China to India and back, and these stories formed the basis of the novel Journey to the West.Though the stories changed hands many times and were elaborated and exaggerated over the centuries, there are a few overriding themes and characters which I’ll sketch out briefly before delving into a full summary. Sanzang, the incarnation of the Buddha, is sent by the Tang emperor to India to obtain the scriptures. On his journey he’s helped by three disciples: A stone ape called Monkey, a pig beast named Pig, and a kind of ogre named Sand.With that basic outline down, let me give you a more detailed summary.In the days of old, lightning strikes a great stone on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit and produces a monkey. This is the character known as Monkey, the great hero of Journey to the West. Monkey quickly becomes the ruler of all the other monkeys, and trains under a Taoist master to become more powerful. Not being satisfied with all this, though, Monkey undertakes a series of adventures to become the most powerful being in the universe.First he travels to the Underworld and removes his name from the rollsheets of the dead, assuring himself (and his fellow monkeys) immortality. Then he goes up to heaven and basically wrecks up the place. He demands to be given the title “Great Sage Equalling Heaven” to show that not even the ruler of heaven is better than he. While in heaven, he eats a fruit that gives him immortality, and then gets drunk. Thinking they can be rid of him, the heavenly soldiers stuff him into a furnace to burn him up. Ho, ho, but that only makes him stronger (not kidding)! The fires refine his essence, so that Monkey becomes invincible. In order to calm him, they give him an official task (he’s made the protector of the horses), but that’s not enough for him, of course.Then Monkey meets his “match” (see below for my comments on this). The Buddha decides to fix Monkey once and for all. He grabs Monkey and puts him in his hand and tells Monkey that if he can jump out of his hand, he’ll be the ruler of heaven. If not, the Buddha will imprison him. Monkey fails, and the Buddha slams Monkey down to earth, imprisoning him beneath a mountain where he’s trapped for five hundred years, with nothing to eat but hot gravel.At this point, the novel enters its second stage. The story shifts to the Tang empire, where the emperor has a terrifying dream. In it, he mistakenly beheads the king of the dragons, and as punishment, he’s ordered to retrieve the Buddhist scriptures or else. He engages a holy monk named Sanzang to do so, and Sanzang sets off on his task.Before he sets off, Sanzang meets with Boddhisattva Guanyin (basically a deus ex machina). She gives him a special headband and instructs him to find three disciples to help him on his journey (as well as gives him a horse that used to be a dragon). It’s Sanzang who, a chapter or two later, frees Monkey from underneath the mountain. He frees him on the condition that he become his disciple, and agreeing, Sanzang puts the headband the Boddhisattva gave him on Monkey’s head. This is the only thing that can control monkey. See, the headband is magic, and if Sanzang says a particular magic spell, he can tighten the headband, causing Monkey endless torment. Monkey absolutely hates the band tightening spell, and will do anything to get Sanzang to stop saying it, or to prevent him from saying it in the first place.After this, Monkey helps Sanzang get two more disciples: Pig, a lecherous lout who’s Monkey’s comic foil, and a nondescript fellow named Sand. With the band all together, they set off for the Thunder Monastery in India to get the Buddhist scriptures.Now comes the bulk of the novel: More than 80 chapters that are nearly identical. All of them go roughly like this:Sanzang and the gang have traveled x number of miles and come upon a foreboding mountain/city/castle/cave/monastery. Monkey takes a look at it and says, “We should stay away from there. There are demons in there.” Sanzang, Pig and Sand (none of whom have Monkey’s powers) can’t see any demons, so they berate Monkey, saying he’s being superstitious, and that they should move on. Monkey protests, and Sanzang, getting upset, threatens to say the band tightening spell. Monkey recoils, and they press on, heading to the foreboding mountain/city/castle/cave/monastery.Once inside, the demons spy Sanzang, and, having heard a rumor that anyone who eats his flesh will gain immortality, abduct him straight away. Pig, terrified and lazy, says they should all go their separate ways. Monkey says, “No, we have to save him.” Reluctantly, Pig agrees to help. Monkey tells Sand to stay with the horse and the luggage (Sand’s most important [and only] task).Monkey goes to the mouth of the cave/castle, etc. and insults the leader, saying something like, “Hey, you dirty tadpole! This is your great, great grandfather speaking! If you give up the Tang priest now, I’ll only beat you half to death! You better do as I say!” The big bad guy hears this and sends out a junior devil to see what’s going on. The junior devil sees Monkey and is terrified. He reports back and says that there are two ugly monks outside, and that one of them looks like a Thunder God (for some reason, Thunder Gods look like monkeys, and anytime anyone sees Monkey, they say he looks like a Thunder God [rather than he looks like a monkey]).The big bad guy, fed up with the insults, goes out to fight. He and Monkey and Pig fight a hundred and twelve rounds, with no one gaining the upper hand. Seeing that he might be losing, the big bad guy unleashes his super secret weapon, and manages to escape and/or capture Pig. Monkey, annoyed, gets on his somersault cloud and flies up to the Western Gate of Heaven for help.The guys up in heaven just can’t stand Monkey, of course. They know what he did once upon a great long while ago, and they just want him to leave, so they agree to do whatever he asks. They send down some soldiers to fight the big bad guy, and so they all go down to the cave/castle, etc.Unfortunately, not even this works. The big bad guy uses his super secret weapon and bests the armies of heaven. Humiliated, they all go back, and Monkey makes more of a clamor, and so they give him someone who’s really good (like Prince Nezha or the Boddhisattva). When they get there, they manage to get the big bad guy out and capture him, and Monkey’s about to kill him, when some heavenly person cries, “No, stop! I know who that is. It turns out that’s my stag/horse/lion/tiger that went missing hundreds of years ago. He must have come down to earth to cause mischief. What a naughty stag/horse/lion/tiger you are! Come back at once!” And so the big bad guy, who is actually some pet of the heavenly being, goes obediently back, Sanzang and Pig are safe, they make a couple jokes, and they move on.Now imagine reading an expanded version of that (this is the short version) about fifty times over. That’s what it’s like to read Journey to the West.But hey, unlike a bad anime, this one actually does have an ending! And what an ending it is! Unbelievable!So, after like 96 chapters and more than 2,000 pages, you, the reader, along with Sanzang and the gang get to the Thunder Monastery. After reading all that, it feels like you too have been journeying for fourteen or fifteen years (or, in my case, five). What happens is nothing short of astounding.First, in a small section I actually found a bit sad, the gang has to cross the river that separates the living from the dead. Monkey, Pig and Sand, who are already immortal, can walk right across without any problems. Sanzang, however, tries to get in and sinks. He’s afraid. Monkey tells him not to worry and snickers, and in something that seems like a dream, he points out to Sanzang that he’s okay. He lifts him up on the water, and points to his body (Sanzang’s) floating away downstream. And so, their lives behind them, they head up to the Thunder Monastery.Along the way, they’re stopped by two lesser buddhas. The buddhas bug them to give them…something; I forget what (money?)—and as the travelers have nothing on them, the buddhas decide to play a trick on them (more on that later).They get to the top and a great vegetarian feast is laid out for them. Then they meet with the Buddha and ask him for the scriptures. The Buddha, naturally, refuses. Yeah, that’s right: He refuses. He says the scriptures are too important to just be handed out willy nilly, but he says he’ll have some of his disciples copy out some of the less important scriptures, and they can take those with them. And then he shoos them away. The entire scene probably takes up less room than my description of it.So they go to his disciples, and who do they turn out to be but the lesser buddhas that were bugging them on the way up. They recognize the gang, and decide to copy out what scriptures they’re allowed to take with them in disappearing ink. They load up these scriptures on the horse, and the gang heads down the mountainMonkey, being a bit sharper than the rest, decides to look at the scriptures at some point, and he notices that they’re blank. Ticked off, they all go back, and Monkey reads Buddha the riot act. The Buddha kind of laughs it off, but then, finally, has half of the scriptures copied out (in real ink), and they leave Vulture Peak.After this, they get back in four days (magically), Sanzang gives his sermon, and each of them receives a reward. Both Monkey and Sanzang become buddhas; Sand becomes an arhat; the horse (the dragon prince, remember) becomes a naga; and Pig becomes an altar cleaner (he eats whatever’s leftover when people leave offerings).And there you have it.If you’ve gotten this far (and, no we’re not even close to being done yet), you may be wondering, “Why should I read this if it’s so dull and repetitive?” Repetitive it may be, but dull it is not, and that’s thanks to two characters: Monkey and Pig.First, Monkey is one of the most extraordinary characters in the history of literature (though you won’t find him in any top ten list since no one reads anything written east of Russia). He’s whimsically wistful, arguably invincible, and utterly incorrigible. I mean, he goes down to the underworld to strike his name off the registers of the dead so that he’ll never die! He makes the gods in heaven tremble! And yet he’s one of the most likable characters you’ll ever come across. He literally laughs in the face of danger (multiple times a chapter), and never shows any concern over anything (except that band-tightening spell).Combining him with Pig was a stroke of genius. Pig is lazy, loud, stupid and coarse, and he and Monkey are always at loggerheads. Their over-the-top antics are reminiscent of The Three Stooges. I remember one scene in particular. Sanzang has been captured (for probably the twelfth time), but this time, Pig all of a sudden grabs the luggage, throws it on the ground and proclaims, “Well, it’s over! Let’s split the luggage up and go our separate ways.” Then Monkey, of course, conks him on the head and tells him they’re going to save the master. The book is filled with little scenes like this that make the whole thing (yes, the whole thing) a joy to read.Despite this, the book has some serious flaws. Consider, for example, one of the four “main” characters, Friar Sand. What’s his deal? I don’t really know, and I’ve read the book. That’s because in all 2,317 pages, you can probably fit Friar Sand’s lines on five pages—and most of them will come from the chapter where he becomes Sanzang’s disciple. I figure that Wu probably realized around chapter 40 that Sand wasn’t getting much action, and he figured at that point that it was too late to rescue it, so he just gave it up.It’s hard to imagine what role Friar Sand would play, anyway. In battle, Monkey’s the invincible one, Sanzang’s the weak one, and Pig is the bumbling one. Friar Sand is…pretty good at fighting? And that’s it.In social settings, Sanzang alternates between pious and wise and a blubbering coward. Monkey alternates between brash and brilliant, and Pig is…well, Pig (they don’t call him “the Idiot” for nothing). Friar Sand doesn’t add to this dynamic, and interjecting him would only intrude. Some of the best scenes in the book involve Monkey, Sanzang and Pig all arguing over something (Monkey makes Pig upset, Pig complains to Sanzang, Sanzang tries to punish Monkey, Monkey tries to explain, etc.). In fact, if you removed Friar Sand from the book entirely, no one would notice—and the result would probably be better. That’s something that shouldn’t be said about one of the main characters of a book.In addition to the troubling issue of Friar Sand, the book isn’t very well written. The prose doesn’t “sparkle”: it’s merely there. That might have something to do with the poetry (I’ll get to that in a minute), but for one of the greatest novels ever written, it’s just not written very well. It’s adequate, and that’s the best you can say for it.The repetition has already been mentioned, but I haven’t said anything about the curious dei ex machina. Frequently Wu will have a great big battle, and then the monster will be defeated somehow, and then after that, someone like Monkey (or the narrator) will explain, “Wu Bajie was lucky, because he remembered his Ring of Golden Rain, which made him invulnerable to the monster’s attacks”. Of course we haven’t heard of the Ring of Golden Rain before, but that’s just the beginning. This thing isn’t even introduced when it’s relevant (i.e. when Pig’s in danger). Wu will introduce it after the conflict has already been resolved as a further explanation of how it was resolved!The book is filled with issues like this. If you want to read Journey to the West, you have to take all of them and just swallow them up whole. If you stop at every issue like this that arises, you won’t get past chapter 1.One of the most notable features of the novel that I haven’t mentioned yet is the poetry. If the book comprises more than 2,000 pages, I can say, without exaggerating, it also comprises more than 3,000 poems (and yes, I realize that comes out to more than a poem a page; I’m still probably underestimating). In chapter 94, for example, there are 21 pages and 23 poems. Some of them are short (just two lines), others longer (the longest is about four pages long), most are somewhere in between (a quarter of a page to half a page long), but all of them are important if one hopes to describe the structure.Each chapter of Journey to the West usually begins with a small poem, and then the action moves thus. Sanzang et al. come across some mountain or castle (as mentioned above), and there’s a poem to describe it. Then when they meet up with someone, Sanzang or Monkey will have some little poem to explain a point (or make a joke). Then when Sanzang is abducted, Monkey will battle with some demon, and the entire battle will take place in a poem that usually sounds something like this:Cudgel and sword clash in the sky!The cudgel booms like thunder,The sword flashes like lightning.One fights to save his master,The other to defend his cave.Plus a few more lines like that. Then the narrator will find a way to insert six to ten more poems here and there before the chapter is up, and the chapter will always come to a close with a little two line poem. By the end of the book, I was able to recognize the different types of poems, even though the poetic styles themselves weren’t translated (by this I mean you can translate the meaning of something like a sonnet without preserving the strict structure of a sonnet. These translations were similar).What fascinates me about the function of the poems is that they’re considered…authoritative, I guess you can say. Most poems are introduced by the stock phrase, “and here’s a poem to prove it.” To prove it! So, for example, they’ll come across a woman who’s very beautiful, and the author will say as much in prose, but that, evidently, isn’t good enough (I mean, since it’s in prose, it could be false!). In order to say anything with any authority, it must be proven with a poem. Just wild!Though the book’s content is a delight, there are several plot issues that trouble me—or that, at least, still have me thinking. The first is Monkey’s encounter with the Buddha.As I mentioned before, the Buddha dares Monkey to jump out of his hand. If he can do so, he’ll admit defeat. Monkey fails to do so, though, and the Buddha imprisons him under a mountain.Now, it’s clear why this makes sense allegorically. Monkey is trained by a Taoist monk, and one of the main points of the book is that Buddhism is “the” way. Therefore, Monkey, as a representative of “inferior” Taoism, is supposed to be defeated by the Buddha. But despite what happens, I maintain that that matchup is unfair

  • Noa Velasco
    2019-02-11 15:22

    Lo he tenido que dejar a la mitad, con todo el dolor de mi corazón y mis ojos. Odio dejar algo a la mitad, y más cuando lo empecé dos veces y me he tirado meses leyéndolo. Pero igual tenía que haberlo tomado como una clara señal de que esto iba a suceder.Esta opinión se la dejo al orco literario:En su día, hace diez años, lo saqué de la biblio y pensé:"¡Hey! ¡Las aventuras del rey Mono! El personaje más legendario de la literatura oriental, cuyas aventuras inspiraron grandes personajes, historias y mitos como en el caso de Son Goku y Dragon Ball, Naruto, etc. ¡Este libro tiene que ser ambrosía en tempura de gloria!". Me dio tiempo a leer la historia de Sun Wukung, antes de convertirse en el Peregrino, y me gustó. Pero tuve que devolverlo y, de todas formas, aún le tenía aprecio a mi espalda como para ir paseándolo en la mochila.El año pasado conseguí una versión digital, levanté mi Kindle como si fuera Simba en lo alto de un peñasco con el sol recortándose en el horizonte, y me juré que al fin descubriría qué sucedía en ese maravilloso viaje al oeste. Bueno, pues no sucede nada. Está bien, es mucho decir. Algo sucederá para llenar dos mil y pico páginas. Bueno, pues una vez leí de nuevo la historia de los primeros años del rey Mono, y de dónde surge la loca idea de ir hasta el culo del mundo a por unos papelajos, lo que sucede viene a ser todo el rato lo mismo (NO SÉ SI ESTO SE PUEDE CONSIDERAR *SPOILER* O UNA ADVERTENCIA QUE SALVARÁ TU VIDA):-Tripi-y-caca, el monjefe, y los otros monjes se encuentran un obstáculo en el camino. -El obstáculo acaba siendo un monstruo, muchas veces disfrazado de ser inocente. -Monstruo conoce monjes. Tripi-y-caca se deja engañar.-Mono reconoce a monstruo y avisa, pero el puto cerdo, llamado "el Idiota", de algún modo consigue convencer al resto de que el Mono se lo está inventando. Que el Mono, que es un poquito cabrón, lo único que quiere es cargarse a un ser inocente. Y en vez de hacer caso al Mono, Tripi-y-caca hace caso al puto cerdo. Sí, al que llaman "el Idiota". ¿Quién es más idiota?-El monjefe es capturado por el monstruo. Se llama Tripi-y-caca, tal vez por lo de viajar, pero debe de ser más bien porque su "mierda" es bastante mala. Es la reencarnación del cigarro de oro, un megasanto, y los monstruos lo quieren devorar porque alarga la vida como el Jess-extender alarga la barra de pan. Pero para ser alguien tan puro y tan santo, no para de llorar y quejarse (podían haber puesto a un niño, que daba lo mismo). Y casi siempre del Mono, que es el único que mueve el culo realmente para sacarle de los apuros. -Así que Mono va al rescate. -El puto cerdo estorba más que ayuda.-Mono no puede derrotar al monstruo, pues suele cerrar la puerta de su casa y ahí parece que no puede entrar nadie. Supongo que será el origen de cuando los niños dicen "casa, no se vale". -Así que Mono va a dar la brasa one more time a la Body-sativa, que es la que empezó con todo esto. Se llama así, seguramente porque estaba fumada el día que decidió que un monje llorica recorriera millones de kilómetros para ir a por papel, cuando todo el mundo sabe que hay en cualquier chino y que abren hasta tarde. -Body-sativa salva el día. Se pone las gafas de sol y se marcha en su nube Kinton al ritmo de "Turn Down For What".-Repetir la fórmula ad infinitum. -Tirar el libro la vigésima vez que Tripi-y-taca llore y el puto cerdo vuelva a trolear al mono. Pero no es tanto que la historia se repita con ligeras variaciones (algunas variaciones molan mucho, eso no lo cuestiono, y me he echado unas risas), sino que repite las mismas fórmulas hasta la saciedad; hace recordatorios en cada capítulo, contándote cómo el Peregrino Sun, el rey Mono, sumió el Palacio Celestial en el caos; los personajes son mezquinos y carentes de algo con lo que sentirte identificado, más allá de ser chinos del siglo de la tos, en especial el puto cerdo, que tiene sus momentos, pero el resto del tiempo deberían cocinarlo al vapor y dárselo al siguiente monstruo mientras siguen su camino. Luego está el extra que los acompaña, el Bonzo Sha, que está ahí para sujetar al dragón convertido en caballo. Eso es... un dragón... convertido en caballo. Y eso me lleva a otra cosa: 7 años viajando. He llegado a unos 7 años de viaje. Y todo por culpa del puto Tripi, que es un inútil. Cualquiera, incluido el caballo, podría haber llegado en un rato, montando una nube o simplemente no siendo gilipollas, pero la Body-sativa le encarga la tarea al más merluzo, que en su vida ha salido del pueblo. En verdad que el único personaje que merece la pena es Sun Wukung, pero me temo que si quiero saber lo que ocurre en el resto del viaje, tendré que terminar de leerlo en la Wikipedia o en algún resumen. No lo recomiendo a nadie que conozca. Me considero el más friki de mis amistades en cuanto a leyendas orientales y me he rendido. Y tiene demasiada propaganda de budismo y taoismo loco. Para encontrar las joyas que alberga, te obliga a tragarte un montón ingente de paja imposible de digerir para el occidental. El formato es perfecto como guion para una serie infantil. O para inspirar a un Toriyama. Él sabrá qué hacer.

  • Christina Packard
    2019-02-15 18:35

    I listened to this 55 hr plus book. I wish I could have seen pictures of who these characters were. A lot of adventures, and Monkey always wants to kill someone.. sometimes it is helpful and he does try to become good.

  • Kimhu
    2019-01-21 21:20

    Chinese history, culture and thoughts in ancient days.

  • Mèo lười
    2019-02-15 14:43

    Thật không thể ngờ khi xưa có thể đọc liền tù tì nó trên điện thoại. Chữ thì bé xíu xiu. Dài kinh khủng, nhưng đọc không biết chán. Bản dịch xưa có mấy đoạn thơ khá hay.

  • TruongSinh Tran-Nguyen
    2019-02-18 15:29

    Illogical use of magic to resolve obstacles/dangers. Propaganda for "Chinese Buddhism", which is far away from Buddhism, as both a philosophy and a religion. Gautama Buddha taught and explained to monks, and more generally everyone, why not to use animal's labor, but the main character rides horses. Gautama Buddha taught and explained why not to be afraid/terrified, but the main character is always in that stat...

  • Brian Wilkerson
    2019-01-28 15:39

    A Trickster Eric Novels reviewI finally finished Journey to the West the other day. At over 3,000 pages across four volumes, it's quite a journey in and of itself. I will examine plot, characters and polish before assigning a grade.This is a review of the novel as a whole. I might do something more specific at a later date.PLOT The novel itself is basically two stories. First is the Rise and Fall of the Monkey King and the second is Xuanzang's journey to fetch scriptures from Thunder Monastery. The Rise and Fall of Monkey is like a Protagonists Journey to Villain. It starts off with Stone Monkey becoming the Handsome Monkey King and going on adventures to protect his kingdom from threats, up to and including death-by-old-age. Then he gets so full of himself he attacks gods and rebels against heaven. In the end this villain is defeated.The plot is quick, fast paced and constantly escalates. The method by which Monkey becomes so powerful makes sense. The series of events that lead to him trapped under Five Elements Mountain is driven by character decisions. It can stand alone as a complete story. Naturally, Monkey fans want to see him get out from under that rock but it can stand alone.The rest of the novel is Xuanzang's journey to fetch scriptures. It has an interesting start. There's this Dante's Inferno thing as part of the set up and there's also how Xuanzang gets involved in the quest and then how he recruits his three disciples. Then it's basically filler until they reach Thunder Monastery. The Pilgrims encounter demons that want to eat/seduce Xuanzang and Monkey has to rescue him. Usually, he has to seek help from other deities instead of simply smashing everything in his path. There's occasional variations, like helping a kingdom from an unrelated demon scheme, problems with humans, or a Broken Bridge.I like the ending. It's a good ending, with closure and such.CHARACTERS Because there is No Antagonist, the only developed main characters here are the pilgrims themselves. Xuanzang is basically a walking plot device because he takes no action other than starting the journey and placing the headband on Monkey's head. Monkey could jump back and forth between Thunder Monastery and Tang capital twenty times with ease but Xuanzang is mortal and cannot ride on clouds so he has to go the long and hard way. He gets captured to involve the Pilgrims in the affairs of demons along the way and insists on helping everyone (even if they're a demon in disguise), thus providing the excuse to delay the Journey.If the other three characters in your cast are criminal demons, then it's necessary to have somebody like this but he could stand to be more like a true Good Shepherd and less like a jerkass.Monkey is like a Trope Maker or something for general shonen anime heroes: he's rude, arrogant, and defeats enemies by beating them senseless with his superior martial arts but he is also driven by a kind heart that wants to protect his subjects. In addition, he is an old and cunning trickster. Many of his victories rely on sneaking around gathering Intel and then devising a strategy to overcome his opponent's advantages. He also knows more about Buddhist teachings than his own master, who was raised a Buddhist monk. Pig is basically a sidekick type character. He makes wisecracks, helps the hero in small ways, and gets captured occasionally.There isn't much to say about Friar Sand (or the dragon prince/horse for that matter). POLISH When you're translating over 3,000 pages of Chinese into English, there's bound to be some typos. I only found a couple, which is admirable on the part of the translator.Trickster Eric Novels gives Journey to the West a B+

  • Akos Hochrein
    2019-02-15 19:24

    The day has finally come... I have finished Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en... Having started around half a year ago, this one was a true beast to read, and hell, it was a true journey. So hold on to your pants, because this review might be a long one.When I began reading the book, I did not know what to expect. One of my friends was studying Chinese literature and mentioned this book, and how awesome it is (turns out he didn't read it), and since I am a big fan of Barry Hughart's work, I decided to give it a "shot". I highly recommend reading this book chapter by chapter in bed as a bed time story for yourself. I didn't do it that way, and highly regret it. I took a break around the middle of the book to read something else. This was a good way to keep myself interested in such long literature.The book itself is beautifully crafted. The storyline comes in a very particular order, which I found a bit hard to pick up at the start. However, I felt that many chapters were just the same, mostly after the true journey starts. I felt the format is the same for almost every chapter (I almost wrote it down here, but don't want to get marked for spoilers; those who read it, you will understand what I mean). Also a little thought I would like to add here. While I was reading the book, I had many chapters where I said to myself: If I had a child, I would definitely read this as a bedtime story. 2 pages later: I would never read this to a child, even if I was threatened to be shot. These feelings came almost every 3 chapters.Character progression is a very difficult topic to talk about here, since it basically doesn't exist. The time of the novel is pretty long, giving a huge frame for the characters to improve or change their personality. But no. The same mistakes and attributes come up in the begining and the ending of the book. Some characters had some drastic improvements, like Wukong, but I did not feel the progression in that. Some characters just made me mad, but I guess that's okay. The guy I really didn't understand in the book, was Sha Wujing. Seriously. This guy (with 1 or 2 exceptions) was MADE by Wu Cheng'en to take care of the horse, and check on the bags. He did not move the story at all, in any direction, yet was given a huge part in the journey.But enough of the mad words. Let's talk about the fantastic piece of literature we have here. The pictures in the book were insane. Short descriptions yielded fantastic visual feelings in my head. The inline poetry gave a fantastic ambiance, which I felt was the strongest at the begining of the book. In my native language (Hungarian), the book had many wonderful words in it, which I have never encountered before. Regarding this, it was a great experience. Props to the translator!Overall: I don't recommend reading at once. Read it like you would read your child a folklore story. Never get mad at Zhu Bajie, he's just a stupid fat pig.3/5 Would read it again.

  • Emanuele
    2019-02-17 22:21

    Rispettando la mole del romanzo, mi scuso ma non sarò breve :)Il Viaggio in Occidente (Xiyou Ji) è un romanzo popolare di mitologia cinese ispirato al vero viaggio del monaco buddista Xuanzang, che viaggiò verso l'India a metà del 600 (non 1600, seicento!), impiegandoci 17 anni, per ottenere gli insegnamenti nella patria del buddismo. Al fondo di realtà però sono fusi un'infinità di elementi mitologici popolari, talmente radicati nella cultura dell'estremo oriente, che si ritrovano spesso anche in media moderni, come manga e anime. Leggendo Il Viaggio in Occidente non ho potuto fare a meno di pensare a DragonBall e Naruto, che fra tutti sono quelli che attingono maggiormente alla mitologia esposta in questo romanzo.La storia è un (lunghissimo) viaggio verso la trascendenza, ed è impregnata di insegnamenti religiosi tanto buddisti quanto taoisti e del confucianesimo, ma senza voler essere preso come testo sacro. La componente popolare è forte, ci sono tante scene comiche e moltissime surreali (personaggi che si trasformano in animali, templi o correnti d'aria! il monaco protagonista e uno dei suoi discepoli che rimangono incinti...).Ci sono molte parti divertenti, ma le storie tendono a ripetersi. Il libro è diviso in 100 capitoli e generalmente due o tre capitoli costituiscono una mini-storia, e più o meno tutte queste si svolgono con lo schema: - i protagonisti incontrano un ostacolo lungo il viaggio;- il maestro viene rapito dimostrando di essere un inetto;- i discepoli non riescono a salvarlo pur dimostrando enormi poteri;- intervengono le divinità a sistemare tutto e far riprendere il viaggio.La stolida immobilità del monaco maestro viene contrapposta dalla sfrenata passionalità del reale protagonista del romanzo, Scimmiotto, il cui nome originale è Sun Wukong (Son Goku), è una scimmia, ha un bastone magico che si allunga e allarga a piacimento e si sposta sulle nuvole!Nonostante sia molto accattivante come lettura, l'ho trovato un po' pesante da leggere. In parte per la dimensione minuscola dei caratteri, e in parte per la ripetitività delle scene, che regalano però fiammate di delirio che spingono il lettore ad andare avanti. Alla fine la sensazione è quella di aver fatto indigestione del vostro cibo preferito.

  • Helmut
    2019-02-14 17:30

    Fantastische Ausgabe eines fantastischen WerksDer Anführer der Affen vom Berg der Blumen und Früchte ist ein rebellischer Kerl: Er bringt Unordnung in das ehrenwerte starre Himmelsreich, stiehlt sich Pfirsiche der Unsterblichkeit und kann erst von Buddha persönlich gemaßregelt werden: Um seine Freiheit wiederzuerlangen, muss er einen buddhistischen Mönch auf dessen Reise nach Westen beschützen vor allerlei Dämonen, bösen Göttern und anderem Gelichter.Diese Reise nach Westen ist eine in China überaus beliebte und bekannte Geschichte, und jeder kennt sie dort. Die hier vorliegende originalsprachliche Ausgabe aus dem Verlag China Children Publishing House ist eine wunderbare Aufbereitung dieser Geschichte.Ich habe noch nie ein derart liebevoll und wunderbar gestaltetes Buch gesehen. Auf praktisch jeder Seite einfarbig illustriert (passend zum blauen Softcover in blau), schwankend zwischen witzigen Miniaturen bis hin zu ganzseitigen Bildern, weist diese Ausgabe noch einen Vorsatz auf: mehrere vollfarbige ganzseitige Bilder, die Szenen aus dem Buch darstellen, mit einer kurzen Inhaltsangabe. Neben diesen Illustrationen ist auch ein überraschendes halbtransparentes Blatt, das die innere Titelseite hervorhebt, und das kleine beigelegte Lesezeichen zu erwähnen. Alle vier Bände dieses Buches (mit insgesamt knapp unter 1000 Seiten) sind so ausgestattet.Das Papier ist recht dick und angenehm, die Kurzzeichen sind kontrastreich und nicht zu klein in schwarz abgedruckt. Viel Weißraum lässt den Text nicht komprimiert wirken und augenfreundlich lesen, am Rand sind hin und wieder Anmerkungen zu komplizierten Sachverhalten oder ungewöhnlichen Schriftzeichen. Der Text ist vollständig, also nicht gekürzt oder umformuliert.Eines der inhaltlich schönsten Bücher der Menschheit hat nun auch eine äußerlich dazu passende Form. Für alle Freunde des Affenkönigs ein unerlässlicher Kauf, an dem man viel Freude haben wird.

  • Zarathustra Goertzel
    2019-02-20 21:37

    Surprisingly good. An adventure epic with good, predictable characters and events that nonetheless develop enough throughout. There are countless charming touches throughout.I love how Pig is often just called the Idiot.I love how there is such blatant acceptance for ugliness (as long as they have good hearts, right :p?)I also love how the book is full of poetry (which likely translates poorly), but it's fun to read it aloud =]Character, scene, castle, mountain -- descriptions are almost always in verse.Sanzang, Pig and Friar Sand are all pretty static throughout the epic, but Monkey is not.The Handsome Monkey King, The Great Sage Equaling Heaven, The Vicious Fighting Buddha, actually changes throughout the story.At first, while full of pizzazz, he's a trickser who feels nothing for blatant murder.Yet, throughout the epic, he is tamed, and gradually learns to act as other Heavenly Beings do (well, more like them at least).Thus, Journey to the West is also a tale telling the transformation of a wild spirit into a ...I can't really spoil the end, now can I?As for the connection to Dragon Ball, I see similarities between Monkey and Goku indeed, perhaps even more so after Monkey becomse slightly less of a rampant murderer.Pig is stupid and lustful like Oolong.Friar Sand really is a useless filler character just like Yamcha.Sanzang is both more pure and more helpless than Bulma.The way Goku comes and goes to the world of the dead is similar too.The epic battles of, unbelievably, stronger and stronger enemies is similar. -- They even take place in the air!Alas, after the first part of Dragon Ball, the similarities start to phase out :p(Note, I read the whole thing, but not necessarily this version. I can't vouch for its translations being amusing.)

  • Dave Sammath
    2019-02-18 14:24

    I read up to ch.76, skipped ch.77-97 and went straight to when Sanzang and Company arrived at the Thunder Monastery.Journey to the West lives up to its place as one of the four great novels of China. According to some of my friends from China, this great novel is usually read when a pre-teen/teenager in China, knowing this helps to understand the repetitive nature of the novel. The majority of the book is essentially the epic long journey of Sanzang and Co. to India to retrieve the Golden Sutras. The story is repetitive for they are constantly encountering demons and evil spirits who want to eat Sanzang so that they can become immortal. This goes on from ch.13-99. Some of the encounters and ordeals the company faces are boring, but then there are a lot of interesting ones as well. Ch.8-12 gives the Buddhist priest Sanzang's background and commission to fetch the Golden Sutras.I personally enjoyed ch.1-7 the best. Ch.1-7 is purely the genesis of the bad-assery that is the Great Sage Equalling Heaven: Sun Wukong. He is pretty much the main character throughout the entire novel, despite Sanzang being the one commissioned, the majority of the story deals with Sun Wukong's actions. Throughout the novel he is the one who is usually saving Sanzang, Pig, and Friar Sand from demons and monsters. A lot of the trouble that Sanzang and Co. find themselves is sometimes a result of the priest's own failure to listen to Sun Wukong, who warns him about demons in disguise.Overall, I would say to read at least ch.1-25, and from there see if you are willing to commit to the other 75 chapters.

  • Matthew
    2019-01-21 21:47

    Better thoughts than my own on this work can be found in the forward and afterward to the book. It's uniquely eastern and yet the folk/legend/religion tropes found within are often familiar to western readers. The prose of the English translation is simple and charming. Although it is split into four "volumes" for convenience, the book really has three legs to it, the origin and history of Monkey (and to some extent Sanzang,) The title journey itself and the wrap up. The journey covers most of the body of the work. It is episodic and becomes extremely repetitive. Because of this I started to become impatient during the fourth volume and for this reason I deduct one star. Those well versed in Buddhism and/or Taoism will certainly find more symbolism in this work than I can (WTF is a mind-ape???) One observation I can make is that Sanzang's disciples had the ability to take their master to his destination in an instant, but were not allowed to do so, suggesting that the purpose of the journey was the trials of the journey itself rather than the scriptures he went to fetch. The history of this book itself is also very fascinating, but there are other places you can find a better account of it than I could possibly provide. To junkies of folklore, faerie tales, legends etc. like myself this gets a high recommendation from me.

  • Joshua
    2019-02-06 15:35

    Sun Wukong, his master and fellow disciples have been my companions for months now, keeping me company on buses and trains and in other quiet moments; at times I felt as though this journey was never going to end. This is a good book to space out, though, given its length and the repetitive nature of the story. I greatly enjoyed "Journey to the West"; I can't really comment on the quality of the translation, but I will say that I often found myself wishing for an annotated version as I felt that a lot of allusions and cultural references were going over my head. That said, the story is very enjoyable of itself and I look forward to reading it again; perhaps I can pick up on some of what I missed next time around.Though there are myriad adaptations of this work, it is absolutely worth delving into the original; though every iteration gives its own spin, few of them really capture the spirit of "Journey".

  • Blain
    2019-01-24 17:28

    I don't rate this one too high because you really have to want to read this to make it worth it. Every time I read this it takes me more than a year. Last time I read it I took four years to do so. It's so episodic in its chapters it's easy to pick up and put down with months in between. A good background in Buddhism, China/Asian culture, or Dragon Ball anima will make this an interesting read. Considered one of the four great classic novels of Chinese literature this is what the movie "The Forbidden Kingdom" was based around. NBC also had a mini series based on this, which is what made me seek it out the first time but I don't remember what it was called. Also, I would note that although I'm happy to own it I do so because I could never find a complete set in a library.