Read The Journey to the West, Volume 1 by Wu Cheng'en Anthony C. Yu Online


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 : The Journey to the West, Volume 1
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ISBN : 9780226971506
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 544 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Journey to the West, Volume 1 Reviews

  • Wreade1872
    2019-01-20 20:29

    A monk and his 3 supernatural disciples set out on a journey westward to obtain buddhist scriptures. Actually that description is the story eventually... there's quite a bit of build up and background to get through first.So there were a few surprises in this for me. Firstly while it might well be based on ancient legend this isn't some oral tale which has simply been written down but rather a proper literary piece from the 16th century. Which is quite recent from china's point of view. I find it quite difficult to read fairytales so was quite glad this wasn't one.Secondly i'm a big fan of the tv adaptation of this 'Monkey'. It was a 70's show made by japan rather than china* and then dubbed into english by people who often didn't even have a script, they would just make up the story based on what seemed to be happening on screen. For all of these reasons i assumed that the book would bare little resemblance to the show, but i was wrong. All the crazy, funny ridiculousness of the show is totally in here :D .The comedy and satire is Rabelais-esque at times. About a 5th of the story is done in poetry. I don't know whether this rhymed in its original language but it doesn't now. It still has a certain rhythm about it though. I might have disliked the poetry except that it only occurs on specific occasions. Its basically a descriptor. Whenever someone or something new turns up or when there's a fight sequence it switches to poetry and the poetry is usually more over the top than the prose. Its like in certain movies or shows where they might switch to animation for fight sequences, or in certain kinds of musical where the songs are only used to replace fight or love scenes. The story can get a bit repetitive both figuratively and literally. Literally in that every so often you get a little recap of events. One character will go off and do something, then comeback and tell people what they've just done. I didn't mind this so much as it was never very long and did make me remember things a bit better.The other repetitiveness is a little more annoying as several of the fight sequences follow a very similar pattern which can start to get old.Oh, one other thing that some might find annoying is the buddhism. There are various pieces of buddhist philosophy in this which will make no sense to most people. I don't even know if their real. Its like quantum theory, someone could be telling you a real but confusing piece of quantum theory or a fake bit, i simply don't have the necessary experience to tell the difference.Anyway, i was constantly hearing the people from the tv show in my head (aswell as picturing the very pretty monk ;) ) so i feel like i may be more naturally inclined to like this over people who didn't see the show. I look forward to reading the rest of the volumes but not right away, i think a break between each one is a good strategy. *the male monk is played by a female actress on the show which caused me considerable confusion as a child :) .

  • Laszlo Hopp
    2019-01-28 19:29

    I read the four-volume revised Kindle edition of this book, translated by Anthony C. Yu. The story is the fictive rendition of a journey made by a 7th century Buddhist monk, Xuanzang, during the Tang Dynasty. He undertook his famous, nearly two decade-long pilgrimage in order to study Buddhism and acquire original Sanskrit texts of the religion from India. When he returned to China, he translated many of the original texts to Chinese, thus leaving a decisive legacy on Chinese Buddhism. Some of the pilgrim's original scrolls are saved in a pagoda inside Xingijao Temple near today's Xian.The story starts with the mystical events of a creature becoming the (Handsome) Monkey King. Through various twists and turns, he acquires great skills and a variety of supernatural power which he will continue to use throughout the book. Some mischievous acts in Heaven land him in trouble but upon the departure of Xuanzang - in the book also called the Tang Monk or Tripitaka after the Three Baskets of Buddhism that held the 3 original Buddhist scrolls - from the Emperor's palace, the Monkey King is given the opportunity to become the disciple and protector of the Monk. In the first phase of the long journey Tripitaka is granted two additional converted vicious monsters as his disciples: Eight Rules who has the appearance of a pig and Sha Monk who has the look of a water buffalo. To complete the mystical traveling company, a water monster is enforced to serve as the replacement of Tripitaka's deceased horse.The bulk of the story is the description of the group's arduous traveling through impenetrable forests, burning mountains, and dangerous rushing rivers. They encounter countless demons, spirits, monsters, dragons, and fiends who invariably want to devour the guiltless Tripitaka. This enhanced interest in the Tang Monk as a culinary delight roots from his purity that is thought to guarantee extremely long life to the cannibalistic food connoisseurs. With his boundless ingenuity and smarts the Monkey King leads the three disciples to defend the Monk.For the contemporary reader, the story has a few stumbling blocks, not the least of which is the length of almost 2400 pages. In the book one will find numerous repetitions where the four main heroes tend to recite some of their earlier adventures in various situations when they meet new characters. The reader is already fully aware of these events and they tend to slow down the flow of the story. One can skip these paragraphs however, without losing much from the narration.For some readers another obstacle could be the numerous poems and songs throughout the book. In my rough estimation 15-20% of the text may well be poetry. The poems are enjoyable and usually provide finer details of, or clarifications to, the main story. As such, they are more functionally part of the book then in another classic pillar of ancient Chinese literature, the poetry in the Dreams of the Red Mansion. In that book the poems and songs are highly transcendent with the purpose of providing insight into the characters' inner selves. I skimmed through many, but not all poems. Others may decide to skip the poems altogether but those who decide to read them in even greater details, will experience an enhanced overall literary beauty of the book.Of the four characters, the Monkey King is by far the best portrayed one and the main reason I gave not 3 but 4 stars to this book. He is an absolute riot; a perfect timeless embodiment of a bad guy turned good who has a curiously complex psyche with a mixture of self-adoration, self-assuredness, mischief, steadfast loyalty, courage, wisdom, practicality, and, on the top of everything, a great sense of humor. Typical of him is the name he has chosen to himself early in the story: The Great Sage Equal to Heaven.Among all the fictive characters I have encountered in my readings, the Monkey King has become one of my all time favorites for his colorful and likeable temperament and for the exquisite perfection with which he has been portrayed.Although the Tang Monk is formally the lead-hero of the story, he really pales in comparision to the Monkey King. He is the most benevolent, spiritually pure individual imaginable who is singularly driven by his unshakable convictions and principled Buddhist mind. Unfortunately, he is also gullible to the point of annoyance and this brings a copious amount of trouble to the poor Monkey King.Eight Rules is a secondary character whose personality is also drawn with an expert pen. He is stupid, yet quite capable in many ways. His loyalty to the Monk never feels solidified, however he seems to function perfectly well under the critical tutelage of the Monkey King and the exculpation of the high-minded Tripitaka.The character of the third disciple, Sha Monk, is far less complete than the previous three and doesn't deserve particular attention in this review.Overall, the book in its full length is not an easy read. I recommend it mostly to those tickled by a potential glimpse into the spirituality of an ancient world, namely the Tang Dynasty, from the perspective of a much later, but still very old, time, namely the late Ming Dynasty. What a rare privilege to enjoy such a treasure!An abridged English translation is also available for those curious readers with a more tepid interest.Additional information: The book has served as inspiration for multiple movies, TV shows, stage plays, and comics. I saw one of these adaptations, Alakazam the Great. This Japanese cartoon film, although adorable in its own right, in no way should be considered a faithful presentation of the original story. I've also read the Ultimate Journey: Retracing the Path of an Ancient Buddhist Monk Who Crossed Asia in Search of Enlightenment, by Richard Bernstein. The book adds a unique, modern-time perspective to this ancient story.

  • Peter
    2019-02-13 21:42

    I really enjoy, as most do, Part One, the origin of Sun Wukong and his hell-raising days before he is finally subdued by Buddha. After that, I am often annoyed, as some are, by how weepy yet obstinate Xuanzang is (especially because he is supposed to be a highly cultivated monk), how underdeveloped the characters Sha Wujing and Yulong Santaiz are, how repetitive the 81 ordeals can be, and the author's repeated use of deus ex machina. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating and often hilarious adventure story of enlightenment. I only wish I could read the Chinese original -- I'm certain the poems would be more fluid and beautiful and the text would be full of wordplay. I would also be interested in reading an annotated version.

  • Melanie
    2019-02-16 19:26

    This has to be one of the most boring books I have ever read. I mean, the beginning of the book, back when Sun Wukong was free to do whatever he pleased was pretty acceptable. But in the moment he is given the task of babysitting Sanzang is where the book starts to get irritating. I understand that the book is supposed to be epic and full of metaphors, but imagine the case when someone asks Wukong something and instead of reading the sentence "and Wukong explained everything that happened to him", he actually tells everything he had been through. I feel awfully frustrated with the speed of the story. I feel as if I'm stuck in a boring journey.I am going to read the rest of the books, though. It's a matter of honor.

  • Sarah
    2019-01-23 21:50

    Well, this is just one of four parts to this rather enormous Chinese work that I've been meaning to read for a long time now. The Journey to the West, at least this portion, is most notably about the origins of Sun Wukong, the mischievous monkey king of folklore. For the most part, even just this installation of the epic feels like it is split into two distinct subcategories, one being far supreme to the other. The first thing I noticed was a return to that beautiful, distinct style of prose that marks most East Asian literature. However, as this is the first Chinese novel I've read, I notice subtle differences from Japanese counterparts. Scattered selections of descriptive verse embellish the entire work and make it that much more of a joy to read, even when there is not much happening. These passages usually pick out a small piece of action or focus closer on a description of color, texture, or general appearance. As a result, it seems as if Cheng'en is really trying to paint a clear visual picture in the reader's mind- he succeeds on all levels. However, I must digress and go back to a point I briefly brought up- the first half of Journey is vastly superior to the second half. For the most part, this is because Sun Wukong is such a badass character with seemingly unlimited power and an insatiable taste for fisticuffs. He is portrayed as a reckless yet nearly unbeatable being, and he definitely goes to great lengths to prove this to anyone and everyone. So it's really all a good romp with Wukong for a while, until he actually gets himself into trouble and has to be assigned someone to babysit him, which is where things really slow down. Enter Xuanxang, the monk appointed to do the job and to spread a Buddhist message back East. Things definitely remain well-written, but I think that for the most part Wukong does it for me, and his diminished role actually sort of diminishes my enjoyment, but only marginally. Overall this is a formidable work and I'm not sure if I'm going to dive straight into the next volume, but it looks like my university's library has got them all and they aren't exactly in high demand. So, sometime I'll come back to Journey but for now I am left with a good impression and a pleasurable read.

  • Greg Kerestan
    2019-02-07 19:34

    I first started reading this book many years ago but didn't pick it up seriously until last week. I'm surprised at how many of the incidents I recognize in translated form from various comic books, movies and video games imported originally from Japan. For being a mostly unknown story in America, this novel (half folklore and half fiction) casts a wide shadow across Asia with its mix of Chinese, Japanese and Indian folk elements.

  • Junius Fulcher
    2019-01-26 19:33

    By far, the most exciting translation of the classic tale, Journey to the West that I have read. The story unfolds in a beautiful, fluid manner through Mr. Yu's high linguistic skills. I've re-read this four volume set several times over as it speaks to me (and is crafted) on many levels. The story is loosely based on the fourteen year pilgrimage of Ven. Hsaun T'sang, a Buddhist monastic/scripture pilgrim who traversed the Silk road from the Tang court in Chang-an, through the Kyber Pass into India, and who served as the real life model for Tripitaka (the Tang monk) in the novel. I cannot praise this book enough.

  • Mary Soon Lee
    2019-02-09 18:45

    "The Journey to the West" is a lengthy 16th century novel, regarded as one of the four great classics of Chinese literature. The author of the book is uncertain, but is thought to be Wu Cheng'en. This volume contains the first twenty-five chapters of the hundred-chapter narrative, plus extensive notes and a ninety-six-page introduction by the translator, Anthony C. Yu. I found the introduction a difficult read, no doubt due to my prior ignorance about almost everything it covered. But the introduction was helpful, and I am glad I labored through it.The book itself defied my expectations. It was neither dry, nor dense, nor inscrutable. To my surprise, it appears to have been intended to be fun, and, despite the intervening centuries, I often found it such. The narrative is a fantastical retelling of Xuanzang's pilgrimage to India to obtain Buddhist scriptures, a pilgrimage that took place roughly a thousand years before "The Journey to the West" was written. In the retelling, there are gods, monsters, dragons, trickery, humor, and a plethora of epic fights. There is also a remarkably large amount of poetry, serving both as description and commentary, and the poetry lightened the reading. Since this volume contains only the first quarter of the story, I will postpone further comments for now.

  • Kama
    2019-02-16 22:44

    "Małpi bunt" to pierwsza z dwóch części skrótu "Wędrówki na Zachód", klasycznej chińskiej powieści drogi. Należy ją oceniać dwojako - i jako skrót, i ze względu na przedstawioną fabułę. W dużej mierze brakuje poetyckości oryginału (tłumacz raczej nie przekładał wierszy lub robił z nich prozę) a i czasem skróty są dziwnie robione. Np. mowa o paskudnie wyglądającym potworze, którego wygląd nie jest opisany, a potem nagle jest mowa o wieprzu. W książce przeplatają się 3 filozofie: taoistyczna, konfucjańska i buddyjska, tak aby każdy z ówczesnych Chińczyków mógł znaleźć coś dla siebie. ;) Czytając tą książkę, w której dużą rolę odgrywa buddyzm, muszę cały czas pamiętać o tym, że autor nie był buddystą tylko konfucjanistą. Bodhisattwa, która wręcza mnichowi buddyjskiemu rzeczy mające zniewolić ucznia i uczy go jak tego ucznia podporządkować sobie przy użyciu bólu nie trzyma się dla mnie kupy. Zadziwiająca może być niebiańska biurokracja. Np. jeden z bohaterów w Niebie był strażnikiem zasłon niebiańskiego pałacu. Małpa zaś dostała pałac, dwa departamenty i urzędników nie mając żadnej funkcji do sprawowania. Kary wymierzane przez niebiańskiego cesarza są niewspółmierne do czynów. Za zbicie czarki można stracić życie lub w najlepszym wypadku zostać zesłanym na ziemię, zamienionym w potwora i regularnie być dotkliwie ranionym. Gorsze od więzienia. Nie wiem czy to jest kwestia skrótu, ale punktowane są występki małpy (np. ośmielił się wykreślić imiona małp z rejestru śmierci), ale nie było nic o konsekwencjach wyciagniętych wobec jednego z podziemnych sędziów, który sfałszował datę śmierci chińskiego cesarza. Dodał temu "wzorowi cnót wszelakich" 20 lat życia. Zmienił 一 (1) na 三 (3). Aż dziwne, że w podziemiach nie zapisywali tego specjalnymi znakami mającymi właśnie uniemożliwić fałszowanie danych. Czyli 1 byłaby zapisana jako 壹. Pal licho to, urzędnik oszukał swoich przełożonych i nie wiadomo czy został za to ukarany, czy nie. Nie wiem z jakich powodów się o tym nie wspomina, ale to jedna z kolejnych rzeczy, które mi zgrzyta. Przed przeczytaniem pierwszej części warto przeczytać wprowadzenie w pierwszej części jak i posłowie z drugiej części (Wędrówka na Zachód). "Wędrówka na Zachód" jako 2-tomowa całość powinna być lekturą obowiązkową dla tych, którzy interesują się kulturą Chin (klasyka przerabiana na wszelkie możliwe sposoby) a także, dla tych którzy lubią mangę Saiyuki, Volume 1 opartą na tej historii.

  • BurgendyA
    2019-02-06 14:25

    This book is the English translation of"Journey to the West". If you are interested in Asian studies, you must read this novel. This book has been in my reading list for two years. I added when I took a course in the university, the class was Asian Society & Culture. It was a very interesting class and the professor mentioned this book as one of Asia Classic. Now I totally see why after reading Journey to the West. Many modern Asian anime, comics, and stories are adaptations of this one or are based on it. I found this out from my former class & did some research. The main character is a mischievous monkey that is the Monkey King and later on named Sun Wukong, who becomes immortal by eating a peach of immortality from the garden of the gods. He studies Taoism and gains special powers. His punishment is to escort a monk from China to India in search of the Buddhist scriptures and spread their wisdom to the land of the East. On the way they encounter many different monsters, funny adventures, and two more companions: a pig, and a sea monster. I admit that the book is pretty long, but it didn’t feel as long or lingered for me. Since the tale was so thrilling and mesmerizing that it made it hard for me to put it down. Luckily this translation includes an extensive explanation of certain Chinese terms along & with footnotes that help understand some of the terms. This novel is a must read for all. It is unforgettable journey that you follow along. I can’t wait to read the next volume to it. I give the book two thumbs up & 10 top stars.

  • Tom
    2019-01-29 16:48

    An eye-opening, fascinating and often funny story that displays the culture of the time and teaches a little about Buddhism along the way. However, towards the end of the first volume the travels begin to become quite episodic.The episodic nature of the chapters is not a great problem, but the fact that more often than not the author resorts to the same deus ex machina way of sorting out the pilgrims' problems could quickly become tiresome in volume 2.Despite that, this gets 4 stars because I'm a great fan of the interaction of the characters and the characterisation of Sun Wu-Kung.

  • Robert Sheppard
    2019-02-06 18:36

    THE JOURNEY TO THE WEST, THE CHINESE WIZARD OF OZ, THREE MUSKETEERS, DON QUIXOTE AND PILGRIM'S PROGRESS----FROM THE WORLD LITERATURE FORUM RECOMMENDED CLASSICS AND MASTERPIECES SERIES VIA GOODREADS—-ROBERT SHEPPARD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF"The Journey to the West" (西遊記, Xi You Ji) is perhaps the most beloved book in China. It is once a great action, travel and adventure story, a mythic and phantasmagorical Odyssey and Quest, an epic of Buddhist pilgrimage and devotion, a comic classic, a tale of brotherhood and loyalty in the Musketeers tradition and a humanist allegory of the striving of disparate dimenbsions of the human condition, the organic-physical, the imaginative-intellectual, the quotidian-realistic and the aspirational-spiritual, towards human wholeness and unity. It is one of the four great classical novels of Chinese Literature, alongside the Dream of the Red Chamber, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the Water Margin, and is beloved in popular culture across East Asia outside of China, being the object of films, television, cartoons, video games and graphic novels from Japan to India. The Journey to the West, in broad outline, tells the story of the long,arduous and dangerous pilgrimage of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang, or Tripitaka of Tang Dynasty of China across the wastes and mountain barriers of Central Asia to obtain and translate the sacred scriptures of Buddhism (sutras) from India and bring them to enlighten the people of China and East Asia. This High Quest and Pilgrimage is joined by an extraordinary league of heroes, without whose aid the monk's mission would be doomed: The magical-mischievous Monkey-King Sun Wukong, the physically awesome and insatiable "Eight Precepts Pig" Zhu Bajie or Pigsy, the gritty and down-to-earth monk Sandy or Sha Wujing and the monk's faithful White Horse, Yujing, all recruited by Guanyin, the "Buddhist Virgin Mary" helping maternal spirit who overwatches them through their many trials and adventures. Together, this band of diverse heroes must overcome the perils of the arduous journey across the Himalayas, especially the demons, beasts and devils en route that wish to defeat their mission of bringing enlightenment to the peoples of China and the world. The most engaging and dominant of these questing heroes however, is the sly, mischievous and magically super-empowered Monkey-King Sun Wukong, who has become the immortal beloved central figure of the classic, such that many translations, such as Arthur Waley's early edition, was simply entitled: “Monkey."From our Western experience, then, how can we get an initial handle on and approach The Journey to the West? One of the first notional points of contact is to compare its characters with the group dynamics of the band of journeying fellows of Yellow Brick Road: the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion alongside Dorothy in Frank Baum's fantasy classic "The Wizard of Oz." Both classics of fantasy are beloved by children across the world. In the Wizard of Oz the Tin Man lacks a heart, the Scarecrow lacks a brain and the Cowardly Lion lacks courage, while Dorothy, although endowed with each in an immature form must grow and mature in each direction. In the Journey to the West, in contrast, each character is overindowed in one dimension----The Monkey-King has immensely precocious powers of intelligence and cunning, yet lacks the discipline, spiritual wisdom and maturity to make his intelligence and pluck more than a nuisance; Pigsy has immense physical strength accompanied by gargantuan appetites, both culinary and sexual, yet lacks the intelligence, self-control and either human or spiritual inslight to turn his lust for life towards a love and service of life; Sandy is practical, down to earth and even tempered, yet lacks the inspiration of either intelligence and imagination, carnal appetite or spiritual aspiration to make his life meaningful; Xuanzang the Tang Monk, has spirituality and humanity, yet they, like Dorothy are powerless and helpless in their brave new world, unable to cope with challenge unless aided by outside powers. The key point is that the four together, either as a group or as symbolic representatives of the internal "organs of human potential" of any human personality, may unite to constitute human wholeness and the capacity for transcendent growth and sustainability. We see other echoes of complementarity in other familiar works of our classical heritage: Don Quixote is a paragon of nobility and the spirituality of knightly aspiration, yet lacks any grasp of the real world or the perspective of reason that would make him more than a charicature of his aspirations; Sancho Panza, has the peasant's down-to-earth practicality and resourcefulness, yet lacks the aspirational nobility of soul and spirituality that would make his life meaningful. Together, however, they can aspire to whole human personality and potential. In the Three Musketeers saga of Dumas, Porthos, like Pigsy and Rabelais' Gargantuan * Pantagruel, is endowed with gigantic physical strength and appetite for life, Athos has a keen sense of honor and glory, Aramis has a religious and spiritual calling and the young D'Artagnan, like Dorothy has innate courage, uprightness, pluck and intelligence, but only in an immature and weak state that must benefit from greater experience, insight and growth to be capable of dealing with the challenges,complexity and evils of the real world. It is again, only working together that they may in full complementarity grow to human wholeness and the human potential for stregnth in life and capacity for positive transcendence. We could even find the same dynamics in the comic trio, the Three Stooges, with the physical excesses of Curly Joe, the practical worldliness of Larry and the overly sadistically over-repressive Moe, who yet still exhibits some fortitude and leadership potential. Though mere buffoons, they show the power to complement each other to grow towards greater wholeness of spirit, a potential fusion of a charicatured outline of Freud's id, ego and superego, that ultimately evokes our deeper affection. Similarly in the Chinese traditional spiritual cosmology, neither the female nor the male principle in isolation, the Yin and the Yang, can attain the wholeness and sustainability in life but by creative and fruitful interfusion with the other. In Volume I of this edition of the "Journey to the West" our story begins with an account of the origins and precocius life of that miraculous and beloved being, Sun Wukong, the Monkey-King. The Monkey-King is in effect half-human and half-simian, miraculously born from a stone nourished by the Five Elements, and like all homo sapiens chagrinned at the dilemma of his finding himself betwixt and between----too endowed with the intelligence and imaginative energies of the gods to be a mere animal, yet too flawed and immature in their development to take a fruitful place in the divine order of things. Sun Wukong thus quickly rises to become the King of the Monkeys by virtue of his innate abilities, yet leaves his kingdom behind to embark on a quest in search of enhanced powers and immortality. In doing so he studies with a Taoist Grand Master, or Patriarch who gives to him from his esoteric lore immense magical powers and abilities. Under the Taoist (Daoist) Sage he learns the Proteus-like shape-shifting power of "The 72 Transformations," the Secret of Immortality, invincible powers of combat through advanced Taoist Kung Fu and Martial Arts and the abiility of "Cloud-Hopping" which enables him in a single somersault to traverse one-hundred and eight thousand miles flying through the sky! He acquires a special weapon, an iron rod which is infinitely expandable and contractible, varying at his will from a chopstick carried behind his ear to an immense clubbing staff capable of subdoing giants and demons. He is the Great Sage's most adept student, finally attaining the status of Qitian Dasheng (齐天大圣)or "Great Sage Equal to Heaven." Yet for all these precocious powers, Sun Wukong remains an immature adolescent given to mischievous monkey-shines and without wisdom or enlightenment. Thus, the Taoist Patriarch, tired of his disorderly shenanigans, in the end banishes Wukong from the monestery telling he must seek his destiny elsewhere.Sun Wukong then journeys to the Celestial Court of the Emperor of Heaven. But to his immense irritation he is only appointed as a menial in the heirarchy of heaven. Thereupon ensues one of the most famous episodes of the novel "Making Havoc in Heaven" in which Sun Wukong rebels, steals the Divine Nectar and Peaches of Heaven and sets himself at war with all of the divine forces of the Celestial Order who attempt but fail to apprehend and control him. But much to the Emperor of Heaven's chagrin, they are unable to control the Monkey-King's unprecedented magical powers and he remains at mischief. Here the Monkey-King joins in the Archetype of the Rebel Against the Gods, and the Trickster, in common with others of the Western heritage such as Prometheus and Milton's Satan. Like Prometheus he has misappropriated divine powers and prerogatives, such as invincibility and immortality. Prometheus, hero of Aeschulus'and Shelley's dramas "Prometheus Bound" and "Prometheus Unbound" is also a prodigy of intelligence and creative ability, a Titan who had aided Zeus in his own celestial Civil-War against Chronos and the old celestial order to become the King of the Greek gods, then audaciously misappropriated the power of fire and conferred it as a benefactor on man, also having had the hubris, emulating the God of Genesis, to create man from clay and endow life upon him, for which transgresions he was condemned to have his liver torn out daily by an eagle on a rock in Hades. Milton's Satan also rebelled against the divine order, but in his case by refusing to serve man, God's beloved creation, and enviously attempting to supplant Him in heaven. Sun Wukong also demands that he should replace the Emperor of Heaven as ruler of the heavenly order, resolving to war against him until he resigned. Nonetheless, the Monkey-King has none of Satan's propensity for pure Evil, but is rather compelled by his innocent adolescent pride and exuberance, egotism and native mischievousness. His punishment thus, as a juvenile offender is commensurately less. Order is resatored when the Emperor of Heaven enlists an even higher authority and power in the Chinese pantheon, Buddha. Buddha intercedes in the celestial war by calling a parley with the Monkey-King, seeking to convince him or the error of his ways, proving to him the much higher merits of the Emperor to claim the Throne of Heaven. To resolve the impasse he proposes a wager to test Sun Wukong's powers. He extends his divine hand and bets the Monkey-King that with all his "Cloud-Hopping" magic he cannot even travel far enough to leave the palm of his hand, with the Throne of Heaven as the high stakes. Sun Wukong accepts the wager, confident he can travel to the ends of the Earth in a single somersault. He sets off flying through the sky until he comes to the end of the world where appear five pillars. To preserve the evidence of his feat he has the audacity to piss on the base of the central pillar and inscribe a graffiti: "The Great Sage Sun Wukong, Equal of Heaven, was here." Returning to Buddha he demands the throne. Buddha extends his hand and shows that the Monkey-King had never left its limits,showing how the graffiti was but inscribed on his middle finger and cursing the smell of the monkey-piss he had left between his fingers! Realizing his delusions of grandeur and his own smallness, Sun Wukong accepts defeat and departs. Later he is further punished for additional transgressions by having an iron band placed around his forehead and is sealed by Buddha beneath a great mountain for 500 years to contemplate his wrongdoing. It is at this point that Sun Wukong joins the Tang monk Xuanzang, as Guanyin, the "Buddhist Virgin Mary" in her mercy, arranges his release from confinement on condition that he do penance for his past errors by guiding and protecting Xuanzang on his mission to India to obtain the holy scriptures.Each of the Pilgrim brothers also is recruited to perform the pilgrimage and quest an Act of Penance through guiding and protecting the Holy Monk Xuanzang on his holy mission to India. Pigsy, or Zhu Bajie, was formally the Commander of the Heavenly Naval Forces, but was banished to mortal life for his transgression in attempting to seduce the Moon Goddess, Chang'e. A reliable fighter, he is characterised by his insatiable appetites for food and sex, and is constantly looking for a way out of his duties, which causes significant conflict with Sun Wukong. Sandy, or Sha Wujing, was formerly a Celestial Court retainer, but was banished to mortal life for breaking a priceless crystal goblet of the Queen Mother of the West. He is a quiet but generally dependable character, who serves as the "straight man" foil to the comic relief of Sun and Zhu. The White Horse was formerly a Prince, who was sentenced to death for setting fire to his father's great pearl, but saved by the mercy of Guanyin.The bulk of the novel is then the account of innumerable adventures of the pilgrim brothers, the Monkey-King, Pigsy, Sandy, Xuanzang and the White Horse on the high road to India. Each chapter or episode is generally a formulaic set-scene in which some shape-shifting demons, beasts or other opponents of the Pilgrims attempt to capture the Tang Monk. As devouring the Tang Monk can bring the demons immortality, they often seek to capture and eat him. His rescuer is generally the magically gifted Sun Wukong. The encounters are often grusome or action-packed with combat and Kung Fu, and many times humorous, as some demon-monster shape-shifts into the form of a beautiful seductress to entice the Tang Monk or Pigsy as part of their nefarious plot. It is generally the Monkey-King who sees through such disguises and adopts some hilarious counterstrategy. The episodes are always lively and entertaining, but as the novel progresses interest can flag as the formulaic situations repeat themselves. The repetition often comes from the original oral storytelling tradition of the saga, but also because Xuanzang must undergo the "81 Tribulations" which are requisite before one may attain Buddhahood. At the end of the saga after fourteen years the Pilgrims successfully return to the Tang Court in China and establish a monestery for translating and publishing the holy sutras. Xuanzang and Sun Wukong attain Buddhahood, and Sandy becomes an Arhat, while the White Horse is delivered from his sentence. Pigsy, Zhu Bajie, because even his good deeds have always been tainted by his ulterior motives of greed and sexual desire, fails to attain the high state of his brothers, but is made an altar cleaner, priviliged to eat the leftover offerings at the temple.The story of the Journey to the West is based on historical fact, albeit with considerable fantastic embellishment. In actual history the monk Xuanzang of the Tang Dynasty (596-664 AD) did in fact journey to India to obtain sutras, the Buddhist holy scripture, to translate them into Chinese, publish and popularize them. The Chinese invention of printing was most probably an evolution from the previous Buddhist woodblock printing of India, associated with the spread of Buddhism in China, and the historical Xuanzang made a considerable contribution to the spread of literacy and printing in Chinese civilization. Like many other works such as the Faust tales and the Iliad and Odyssey, for centuries they were the subject of oral storytelers before being rendered in classical written form. It is thought that Wu Cheng'en the probable author of the classic novel in 1592, thus a contemporary of Shakespeare and Cervantes, adapted these rough oral tales passed on by professional storytellers into a consummately crafted novel. The star character, the Monkey-King, was based on the character Hanuman, the Monkey-King magician of the Indian classic, The Ramayana, of Valmiki, which probably circulated in the oral tales of itinerant storytellers into China, but which Wu Cheng'sn crafted into a magnificantly original creation. Although a Buddhist classic, the Journey to the West is largely free of religious didacticism and presents itself a a vivid and exciting narrative of adventure and fantasy. The Journey to the West influenced the composition of my own latest work Spiritus Mundi, the contemporary and futurist epic of the modern world in several ways. First, in Book II, Spiritus Mundi, The Romance which is more mythically oriented, The Monkey-King appears as a character in aid of the Quest of the social activist heroes to save the world from WWIII by acquisition of the Sylmaril Crystal. Sun Wukong thus joins Goethe and the African God-Hero Ogun as counselors and aiders of the Quest on the journey through the Center of The Earth and their visit to the Temple of the Mothers on the Island of Omphalos where they may access the Cosmic Wormhole through Einsteinian Space-Time to visit the Council of the Immortals at the Black Hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Spiritus Mundi also shares the universal Archetype of the Quest with the Journey to the West, along with other works such as the Epic of Gilgmesh, The Divine Comedy of Dante, The Ramayana of Valmiki and the Aeneid of Vergil, as well as modern fantasy epics such as the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. It thus addresses the powerful forces of the universal Collective Unconscious transcending and uniting all human cultures and civilizations as delineated by the famous spiritual psychologist C.G.Jung and other literary and cultural critics such as Joseph Campbell in his work "The Hero With a Thousand Faces."In conclusion, I would highly recommend that you take a look at The Journey to the West by Wu Chengen, as it is a work absolutely central to Chinese culture and to that of Southeast Asia. No educated person can live in and undersand the modern world, especially with the rise of China and Asia, without having some basic familiarity with this foundational Classic of Chinese and Asian culture. I also invite you to explore its themes and characters shared in the modern contemporary and futurist epic Spiritus Mundi, by Robert Sheppard. For a fuller discussion of the concept of World Literature you are invited to look into the extended discussion in the new book Spiritus Mundi, by Robert Sheppard, one of the principal themes of which is the emergence and evolution of World Literature:For Discussions on World Literature and Literary Criticism in Spiritus Mundi: http://worldliteratureandliterarycrit...Robert SheppardEditor-in-ChiefWorld Literature ForumAuthor, Spiritus Mundi NovelAuthor’s Blog: http://robertalexandersheppard.wordpr...Spiritus Mundi on Goodreads: Mundi on Amazon, Book I: Mundi, Book II: The Romance Robert Sheppard 2013 All Rights Reserved

  • Sherrill Watson
    2019-01-31 17:27

    Check out Wreade's review. I did not see the TV series, and so can not comment. "In the Zhenguan reign period of the Tang dynasty, a Buddhist monk, named Xuanzang (602-664) travels alone through Central Asia thru the land of Tianzhu (present-day India) to seek the original Buddhist scriptures. [the] Journey there and back -- covering thousands of miles -- took 17 years, and Xuanzang traversed 138 states . . . " Throughout the years, the cultures evolved, and the stories spread throughout the geography. Eventually there were five travelers, representing five symbols: Monkey belongs to fire, Pig to wood, Friar Sand to metal the Dragon Horse to water and the priest, Xuanzang, to earth. The first three became the disciples. Enroute, each character overcomes, slooowwly, his defects. The four fight monsters, who usually live in caves and want to devour the Master, who cries, cowers, and is frightened. There is sometimes poetry describing the action / fights, or the clothing of the monsters or of the four travelers and the Dragon Horse, or the vegetarian food they eat. Sometimes cleverly, sometimes easily, sometimes at great length, sometimes almost accidentally, each monster is overcome and the little group moves forward. The abrupt peaks of the mountains of China, and the hairy, bristling monsters are described as well as the gods who populate the places the four / five people pass through. An interesting if long read for a Chinese history buff?

  • Ashley Lambert-Maberly
    2019-01-30 16:38

    Great fun, and what a treat to finally read the whole thing (well, volume one of the whole thing, so far) rather than a condensed "best of."Book begins a bit slowly, but soon hits its stride as Monkey wages war on the Gods themselves ... there's a slight dip in momentum once he's out of commission, but soon he's back and it's a series of mostly comedic action sequences, one after the other--a rollicking good time, and a good bedtime book as each sequence can be absorbed in small doses.

  • Young At Heart Reader
    2019-01-27 16:41

    A great classic story for a reason. A grand epic that is truly entertaining and amusing. The story is kind of bogged down by characters constantly repeating information we already know, but I think that may have been leftovers from when this story may have been told orally. I'm definitely going to check out the other three volumes, especially since this volume ends right in the middle of a story.

  • Daniel
    2019-02-05 20:52

    If Jackie Chan summoned the Three Stooges and they went on to write a 2,000 page adaptation of Pilgrim's Progress indebted to Tolkien and steeped in alchemy, Taoism and Buddhism, it might be roughly similar. Delightful, extravagant, bizarre, ornate and luxurious.

  • Shawn Michael
    2019-01-21 14:37

    I believe this is my new favorite book of all time and it's just part 1. Of course I give it my highest recommendation.

  • Stuart
    2019-02-10 21:50

    Didn't fully realize the level of epic I was submitting myself to, but the narrative is beautiful, well annotated and rich with allegory and mystical symbolism. Very enjoyable.

  • Turnip Cake
    2019-02-01 17:49

    Poetic, violent, and adventurous Chinese Classic.

  • D
    2019-02-13 16:35

    Една от най-трудните книги, които изобщо съм захващал. С две думи нещо като много по-интересен и натоварен вариант на "Властелина на пръстените", но с типично за китайската литература от 16-ти и 17-ти век хаотично писане за легенди, митове и същества, за които европеецът не е чувал. Една от звездите е само заради невероятното влияние на книгата върху цял континент в продължение на векове. Стил и подобни неща изобщо няма смисъл да коментирам, книгата е практически ненамираема в цялостен вид на некитайски и се чете на части и разбъркано. Както казах, трудна работа.

  • Diego
    2019-02-15 18:27

    Disclaimer : This review is only about the first 10 chapters (which is roughly the length of a normal book), I did not go any further than that.Since I first heard of what this book influenced, I've always wanted to read it. It took me a couple of years to finally get into it, but I went in ready for the long journey.Now, I think I can understand why this book is so popular, the stuff that happens in it is just incredible and fantastic. Immortal beings, legendary weapons, trips to beneath the sea, to heaven, magic powers etc...It almost reads as a series of tales, with each chapter having little to do with the one before it, and going in crazy new directions. It's translated from Chinese but it's perfectly understandable.So it wasn't the story nor the style of it that I disliked. It's actually really my king of thing, stories that are going crazy with unexpected reactions from the characters.What really tired me after some time, is that it's kind of "messy". I can't really put my finger on it, but I couldn't immerse myself in this book very much. The pacing is very odd, some things go extremely fast with years of ellipses, and at other times there are very long poems. Some situations I feel would have gained very much by being expanded and described in more details, and some others drag on and on with the characters describing what just happened a few minutes ago.After hours and hours of enjoying some of the moments in this story but not being able to really feel like I'm in it, I couldn't go on, mostly because there was so much left, and I don't feel it's worth going through dozens more hours of this (which is OK, but not great), compared to the potential that some other books have.I really recommend at least trying to get into it, because if it works for you, I think it can be a really fun read despite its length.

  • Chris
    2019-02-17 18:36

    The advent of the year of the Monkey gave me as good an occasion as any to try and read this, and I'm so glad I did. I'd been familiar with the characters from a picture-book series I'd encountered in second grade, but it wasMax Gladstone's blog post a couple of years back that put it back on my radar.Even across just Part I here, I cannot overemphasize how cheerfully bonkers this story is. Take the toilet humor, which a) is utterly brazen, b) comes out of nowhere more often than not, narratively speaking, and c) actually made me LOL, which is hard when I'm reading silently to myself! Or the fights, which are written in heroic verse and nearly always end with a hasty retreat and a pratfall. What I'm saying is, the tone is amazing, like a cartoon, orUlysses, except it's also a metaphor for the soul's maturation, because of course it is. The unabridged version, which is what I've dived in for, is a bit of a slog if you don't like nature poetry or obscure alchemical symbolism, but then again, who doesn't? (There is an abridgment by this translator,The Monkey and the Monk.)

  • Ken
    2019-02-14 18:40

    The Journey to the West is one of the four great classical novels in China. This book has a very high historical status in Chinese literature. However, after I have read the English version of this book I have to say it lost a lot of things. Journey to the West is a mythological novel based on many centuries of popular tradition. The main character of this book is Wukong, also known as the Monkey King. This is the most famous literature in China and Monkey King is the favorite character among children. This story talks about the amazing adventures of the priest San-zang as he travels west in search of Buddhist sutras with his three disciples, the Monkey King, Zhu Bajie(the spirit of pig), and the Sandy (Sand monk0.This journey is full of danger and adventures. They encounter a lot of monsters and strange things on the road. Under the protection of Monkey King, San-zang has finally arrived the west and get the "true sutras". The Journey to the West is the most high-achieving satire. The book has strong roots in Chinese folk religion, Chinese mythology, Taoist and Buddhist philosophy, and the pantheon of Taoist immortals and Buddhist bodhisattvas are still reflective of some Chinese religious attitudes today.

  • Jack Ziegler
    2019-02-08 18:39

    Since I decided to be a chaperone for Jenny's trip to China in the spring, I figure I should learn some more about the country. This is a recommendation from've gotten this book and I'm taking it to China with me.I'm back from my trip to China and I can report that I read very little of this book. We were too busy for me to get into it. I have more time now and I am enjoying it so far.First, this edition is an academic publication. The first (almost) 100 pages are a review by the translator about the origin of the story and who the author is. This was the material that kept me from getting started while I was traveling in China. And, the last 30 or so pages are footnotes that provide more information. I was constantly flipping back and forth to see what I might be missing.In the end, I enjoyed this book. As a fiction book, I don't know that it provides any deep insights into the "Chinese" character, but I do think that it does provide added depth to my China trip experience. I do plan to read the following three volumes. I need to know if the Scripture Pilgrim makes it back safely.

  • Liralen
    2019-02-19 15:36

    I'm actually reading the one with the red cover, translated by Anthony C. Yu, and the translation is amazing. I really love how he actually does his best to translate the epic poetry into something that rhymes and has a tempo to it that is like the traditional verse structure.The annotations are excellent.Of course, the story itself it is amazingly fun. Most of this book is about the Monkey King, his crazy adventure that trapped him for hundreds of years, and then the amazing story of how Tripitika became the Scripture Monk through crazy crimes committed on his mother and father and everything that had to go through that.The view of Heaven, of Taoism, and the concepts of Buddhism as practiced around the writing of this book, the view of the Tang Dynasty through historic eyes, are all fun and fabulous. I read this with my 13-year-old son and we've both been amused, bemused, and sometimes confounded by the cultural differences, but we're learning a lot. We've gone on, since finishing this volume, to volume 2.

  • J.M.
    2019-02-20 17:54

    Really, surprisingly good. The humor holds up really well even after centuries-- which reminded me of Moliere's The Miser, and says something about the strength of the original translation. In pairing the story with poetry and with religious / mythological elements, it seemed like The Iliad: just as graphically violent, but much funnier.This is a classic, deservedly, and should be read more widely in the west. If you're going to tour world literature, this would be an excellent first stop. However, the 'V1' refers to Volume 1, meaning only the first fifty chapters of the work. It claims to be "accurate and complete" on the back cover but it's far from either. To end after chapter 50 leaves the reader in the middle of another epic battle. Also, this Silk Pagoda version is riddled with typo's and word-substitution errors, as though it were only run through spellcheck instead of being proofread.

  • Doc
    2019-02-16 20:46

    I had been told that there aren't many ancient Chinese novels, as if the people of China have always been just so darn down-to-earth that they rarely told stories. The Taoist Myths of Chuang-Tzu were the closest that I had read, and they are so ordered and Confucian at times that they feel more like parables than stories. Journey to the West feels more like a story. It is probably one of the longest parables ever written, with some of the most detailed symbolism that I have ever seen.Without having to commit to the entire four-volume series, the first volume tells a lot of what you need to know as far as Chinese mythology. The origin story of the Monkey King (or How the Mind Runs Rampant Unless Contained by Compassion) is the absolute foundation of much of Asian thought and philosophy and of China in particular. Plus if you know anything about Chinese medicine, this is really a perfect read. Five elements, three treasures, and other patterns are profoundly represented here.

  • Marian Allen
    2019-01-29 20:44

    I have to admit, I'm reading this book for Monkey, not for any other reason, and the part I liked best was the part before he got "redeemed". Not that he's exactly saintly afterwards.... The Monkey King is a classic trickster, who steals whatever he can get away with and faces any challenge with relish. You always want to have him on your side.I discovered the Handsome Monkey King through Laurence Yep's Dragon War novels, then through my youngest daughter's readings in Chinese literature. Now I've discovered my youngest grandson watching Monkey cartoons, and impressed him mightily by knowing all about it!Considering the intelligent and erudite reviews this book has received, I feel quite shy adding my silly opinion, but I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good adventure with lots of funny bits in.

  • Timothy
    2019-02-01 16:50

    This is an enjoyable book, but it's important to understand that it reads like a classic. It kind of calls 'Don Quixote,' to my mind. It's a similar type of satire with a similar 'questing,' or 'picaresque,' story. We start with the Monkey King and his roguish behavior, and then the story shifts to follow the monk Tripitaka and his disciples on his journey west to retrieve Buddhist scriptures. It took me a few weeks to finish this one, and for the time being I'm leaving the other volumes alone. I recommend this for those who enjoy adventure stories, but its definitely not a Warhammer paperback.

  • Pauline
    2019-01-24 14:46

    Journey to the West is one of my personal favorite Chinese tales. I used to watch the many many tv adaptations of the Monk and his 3 disciples when I was younger. I finally had the time to sit down a read it recently and it has been exactly what I expected it to be. It is told in different "acts" and although there is a cohesive timeline, each event that occurs to the traveling group can stand on its own. There really isn't much to say about it. Due to the fact that it is a translation of an ancient, classic Chinese text the writing and flow may be extremely different than what one is expected. However, you get used to it quickly.