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Monkey depicts the adventures of Prince Tripitaka, a young Buddhist priest on a dangerous pilgrimage to India to retrieve sacred scriptures accompanied by his three unruly disciples: the greedy pig creature Pipsy, the river monster Sandy - and Monkey. Hatched from a stone egg and given the secrets of heaven and earth, the irrepressible trickster Monkey can ride on the clou Monkey depicts the adventures of Prince Tripitaka, a young Buddhist priest on a dangerous pilgrimage to India to retrieve sacred scriptures accompanied by his three unruly disciples: the greedy pig creature Pipsy, the river monster Sandy - and Monkey. Hatched from a stone egg and given the secrets of heaven and earth, the irrepressible trickster Monkey can ride on the clouds, become invisible and transform into other shapes - skills that prove very useful when the four travellers come up against the dragons, bandits, demons and evil wizards that threaten to prevent them in their quest. Wu Ch’êng-ên wrote Monkey in the mid-sixteenth century, adding his own distinctive style to an ancient Chinese legend, and in so doing created a dazzling combination of nonsense with profundity, slapstick comedy with spiritual wisdom.


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Monkey depicts the adventures of Prince Tripitaka, a young Buddhist priest on a dangerous pilgrimage to India to retrieve sacred scriptures accompanied by his three unruly disciples: the greedy pig creature Pipsy, the river monster Sandy - and Monkey. Hatched from a stone egg and given the secrets of heaven and earth, the irrepressible trickster Monkey can ride on the clou Monkey depicts the adventures of Prince Tripitaka, a young Buddhist priest on a dangerous pilgrimage to India to retrieve sacred scriptures accompanied by his three unruly disciples: the greedy pig creature Pipsy, the river monster Sandy - and Monkey. Hatched from a stone egg and given the secrets of heaven and earth, the irrepressible trickster Monkey can ride on the clouds, become invisible and transform into other shapes - skills that prove very useful when the four travellers come up against the dragons, bandits, demons and evil wizards that threaten to prevent them in their quest. Wu Ch’êng-ên wrote Monkey in the mid-sixteenth century, adding his own distinctive style to an ancient Chinese legend, and in so doing created a dazzling combination of nonsense with profundity, slapstick comedy with spiritual wisdom.

30 review for Monkey (Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    I kind of regret buying this book. I thought it looked like a fun little read when I saw it in the mythology section, so I picked it up (several years ago). Why regret it when I enjoyed it? I could have enjoyed MORE of it. You see, I found out much later that Monkey is an abridged version of Journey to the West. This is one of the four classic Chinese novels. I've read (and generally loved) the other three: Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Outlaws of the Marsh, and Dream of Red Mansions. Now I've r I kind of regret buying this book. I thought it looked like a fun little read when I saw it in the mythology section, so I picked it up (several years ago). Why regret it when I enjoyed it? I could have enjoyed MORE of it. You see, I found out much later that Monkey is an abridged version of Journey to the West. This is one of the four classic Chinese novels. I've read (and generally loved) the other three: Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Outlaws of the Marsh, and Dream of Red Mansions. Now I've read an abridged version of the last one, when I would have much preferred to read the full unabridged text. I'll still have to do that at some point. Still, I can recommend this book pretty enthusiastically to some people at there. Reading the other three books mentioned above, I undoubtedly tried to sell you on them (directly or indirectly). Perhaps you were even a bit interested. However, I recognize that the other three, thousand+ page monsters can be pretty intimidating, particularly since they feature so many characters with names that are difficult to pronounce and keep straight if you are not particularly familiar with Chinese names. Monkey is only about three hundred pages, and style wise is a much easier read as well. There are fewer important characters, and they have more easily pronounced/remembered names (Monkey and Pigsy being two of the main four characters). This story is also quite a bit more of a folk tale than the others, so it remains noticeably simpler. That said, it retains the very classic style that I haven't seen anywhere besides these Chinese novels. The charmingly formal well that people address one another (even the taunts before battles are formalized in a very unique way). This would be a great book to use as your trial run into classic Chinese literature, and if you enjoy the general style of it, you will enjoy the style of the longer and more difficult books as well.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    An interesting, if strange read, like nothing I've read before. It's funny, historically interesting and at times very engaging, if somewhat hard to get into.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    Perhaps because I have been reading too many political books—inevitably dreary—I found Monkey to be almost electrifyingly delightful, from the beginning to the very end. When I bought the book used, on a whim, I knew virtually nothing about it other than it was a famous Chinese classic. Thus, I vaguely expected something rather dry and edifying; so I was delighted was, instead, I found the inspiration for one of my great childhood loves, Dragon Ball. Indeed, while admittedly lacking in animation Perhaps because I have been reading too many political books—inevitably dreary—I found Monkey to be almost electrifyingly delightful, from the beginning to the very end. When I bought the book used, on a whim, I knew virtually nothing about it other than it was a famous Chinese classic. Thus, I vaguely expected something rather dry and edifying; so I was delighted was, instead, I found the inspiration for one of my great childhood loves, Dragon Ball. Indeed, while admittedly lacking in animation, Monkey is just as silly and wonderful as Goku’s exploits—with the added benefit of giving you bragging rights for reading it. Well, perhaps I should not feel too proud, as Monkey is an abridgement of a much larger work, Journey to the West, which is more than six times longer. But as the original book is episodic—consisting of misadventure after misadventure on the way to India—the reading experience of this shorter version is seamless, as it merely consists of fewer episodes. Authorship of this book is normally attributed Wu Cheng’en, who seems a rather tepid character in comparison to his book. But Wu—or whoever the author was—had ample material to work with. By the time that Journey to the West was written, there was already a very old oral tradition concerning the 7th century Buddhist pilgrim, Xuanzang (called Tripitaka in this version), and his many trials on the way to India. The author’s accomplishment consists in arranging these many stories into a coherent whole, and telling them in lively, colloquial prose. The closest European counterpart I can think of is Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Rabelais, which was written at very close to the same time. Both books are absurd and strikingly irreverent, and filled with gusto and a zest for life. But of course, the parallel is not exact. While both works parody conventional politics and religion, Rabelais’s work is more thoroughly earthy, while Wu’s does have higher, spiritual resonances, especially as the book progresses. Indeed, I admit I felt slightly holy myself by the time I put it down, as I read it during my own little pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. The book was a perfect companion

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    Its funny, I read about 50 pages of this then lost the thread and started struggling with who was who, to such an extent that I put it down for a few months. After this break I then went back about 20 pages and started again. This time it stuck, I sailed through the rest of the book, and really enjoyed it. I think if I hadn't of struggled it might have been 5 stars, but all in all I think 4 is a fair mark.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David

    Kudos to Arthur Waley for somehow reducing this 100-chapter classic of ancient Chinese literature into a 30-chapter abridgment that makes sense. Certainly many hard choices were made along the way. There is almost none of the florid court poetry that the original has in abundance, and many fun adventures wound up on the cutting room floor, but what remains captures the spirit, humor, suspense, and moral lessons of Wu Cheng'en's "Xi You Ji" (Journey to the West). Because this was published in 1943 Kudos to Arthur Waley for somehow reducing this 100-chapter classic of ancient Chinese literature into a 30-chapter abridgment that makes sense. Certainly many hard choices were made along the way. There is almost none of the florid court poetry that the original has in abundance, and many fun adventures wound up on the cutting room floor, but what remains captures the spirit, humor, suspense, and moral lessons of Wu Cheng'en's "Xi You Ji" (Journey to the West). Because this was published in 1943, all spellings follow the Wade-Giles guidelines instead of the cleaner, truer Hanyu Pinyin. This will hardly matter to readers with little knowledge of Chinese pronunciation, but I'm not a big fan of the earlier British Imperial language system for Mandarin and it slowed me down. Waley also chooses quaint names for his quartet of seekers and loses any subtlety or richness in the process. Zhu Bajie (Eight Precepts Swine) becomes "Pigsy", for example. The priest Tang Sanzang becomes "Tripitaka" rather than "Hsuan Tsang". Tripitaka is "Three Baskets" (the very Buddhist Scripture this priest and his disciples are traveling to India to receive) and, as applied to this questing monk, is dry and reductive. It's rather like translating "Moses" as "The Tablets". I wasn't a big fan of this choice, either. All in all, a 3.5-star treatment of a 5-star story.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Neaz

    "Monkey" is Arthur Waley's delightful rendition of Wu Cheng-en's "Journey to the West", one of China's four great classical novels. This abridged version provides English readers with an experience that would otherwise have been inaccessible to those of us unable to read the original Chinese. The novel offers a pleasant mixture of action, adventure and comedy. It examines a number of meaningful themes, including three great Eastern philosophies (Buddhism, Tao and Confucianism) and satirical comm "Monkey" is Arthur Waley's delightful rendition of Wu Cheng-en's "Journey to the West", one of China's four great classical novels. This abridged version provides English readers with an experience that would otherwise have been inaccessible to those of us unable to read the original Chinese. The novel offers a pleasant mixture of action, adventure and comedy. It examines a number of meaningful themes, including three great Eastern philosophies (Buddhism, Tao and Confucianism) and satirical commentary on their failed practice by people in an overly bureaucratic society who miss the forest for the trees. A must read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Graham

    The last thing I'd expect a hundreds-of-years-old slice of classic Chinese literature to be is fun, but that's exactly what MONKEY is. It's great fun! It's a delight to read, a thoroughly modern action-adventure storyline that embodies the classic 'journey' narrative and packs it to the brim with all manner of outlandish incident and constant humour. The only difficulty with MONKEY comes from trying to remember all of the various deities and sub-sections that Heaven is made up of. Almost every ch The last thing I'd expect a hundreds-of-years-old slice of classic Chinese literature to be is fun, but that's exactly what MONKEY is. It's great fun! It's a delight to read, a thoroughly modern action-adventure storyline that embodies the classic 'journey' narrative and packs it to the brim with all manner of outlandish incident and constant humour. The only difficulty with MONKEY comes from trying to remember all of the various deities and sub-sections that Heaven is made up of. Almost every character in the story is divine in some way, and that's overwhelming at first, but the more you read, the more it all makes sense. Monkey himself is a great protagonist; he starts off as completely annoying, but the reader gradually warms to him as the narrative progresses. Monkey never changes, but the reader gets to know and like him instead. The rest of the characters, Tripitaka, Pigsy, and Sandy, are built to entertain. Arthur Waley's translation is a joy to read, and probably the most readable version of a 16th century story that you'll ever find. It's also surprisingly modern in places, complete with back-stabbing, betrayal and low brow humour. The story is tumultuous and fantastic and yes, epic in the true sense of the word; the only problem is that this is an abridged version of a much, much longer original, and thus it makes you long to read the full-length version.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Celia

    According to Wikipedia: Journey to the West is a Chinese novel published in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty and attributed to Wu Cheng'en. It is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. The novel is an extended account of the legendary pilgrimage of the Tang dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang who traveled to the "Western Regions", that is, Central Asia and India, to obtain Buddhist sacred texts (sūtras) and returned after many trials and much suffering. In the book, the mo According to Wikipedia: Journey to the West is a Chinese novel published in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty and attributed to Wu Cheng'en. It is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. The novel is an extended account of the legendary pilgrimage of the Tang dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang who traveled to the "Western Regions", that is, Central Asia and India, to obtain Buddhist sacred texts (sūtras) and returned after many trials and much suffering. In the book, the monk is named Tripitaka. His three disciples, Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy accompany him on his journey. I am glad that I read this book because it is a Chinese classic. However, I thought the story hard to follow. Therefore I can give it only 3 stars The copy I read is the abridged version. I think the original is 4 volumes and entitled Journey to the West.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Akemi G.

    I read this in Japanese, so I cannot comment about the quality of the English translation. Part adventure journey, part human comedy disguised as fantasy. (Very cynical to government bureaucracy) For those who are wondering about the *complete* translation of this classic: There have been multiple versions of this, because authorship in the old China is not what you assume. People added their own fancy as they hand-copied the book(s), and it's hardly possible to distinguish which part is authenti I read this in Japanese, so I cannot comment about the quality of the English translation. Part adventure journey, part human comedy disguised as fantasy. (Very cynical to government bureaucracy) For those who are wondering about the *complete* translation of this classic: There have been multiple versions of this, because authorship in the old China is not what you assume. People added their own fancy as they hand-copied the book(s), and it's hardly possible to distinguish which part is authentic. Again, I cannot comment about this specific version, but it just might be a good idea to start with this rather than the longer version.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jim Peterson

    Monkey is a magical tale of fantasy and adventure in the Tang Dynasty (618–907) of imperial China. At around 350 pages, this translation is actually a short version of the 2,000-some-page Journey to the West, which was written in the 16th century. It is a very important book throughout Asia, and considered one of the four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. A Japanese friend of mine assures me that 98% of Asians know the story of Journey to the West whether through the book directly or Monkey is a magical tale of fantasy and adventure in the Tang Dynasty (618–907) of imperial China. At around 350 pages, this translation is actually a short version of the 2,000-some-page Journey to the West, which was written in the 16th century. It is a very important book throughout Asia, and considered one of the four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. A Japanese friend of mine assures me that 98% of Asians know the story of Journey to the West whether through the book directly or its numerous spin-offs. Although Monkey is an abridgement, it doesn’t read like one. It really feels like a full story. Most of what was omitted consists of individual adventures along the pilgrims’ journey to India to fetch Buddhist scriptures. Since these mini adventures are largely self-contained, you don’t notice their absence when reading, although the ending does come off as somewhat abrupt. I’ve been wanting to read some Wuxia for a long time due to my personal interest in martial arts. Wuxia is basically Chinese martial fiction, and it is hard to find anything in this genre with less than 2,000 pages. I specifically chose this abridged version because I wanted to get a soft start rather than dive right into a 2,000-page brick only to give up. Though the translation is not perfect, the style is sometimes archaic and the ebook version contains some digital transfer errors, Monkey still fulfilled my expectations. And I expect this won’t be my last wuxia novel. Despite the drawbacks, I'm giving this five starts because I know I'm going to be thinking about this story for a long time. Note: While it definitely helps to first have some basic knowledge of Buddhist philosophy and terms (i.e., the difference between Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Arhats) and the major figures (Guatama/Sakyamuni, Kwan Yin, Amitabha and the Taoist Lao Tzu), you could easily get by without any such prior knowledge and probably learn a good deal about Chinese beliefs simply by reading this book. Interesting trivia: Dragon Ball is based on Journey to the West. The Monkey King is called Sun Wukong in Chinese and Son Goku in Japanese. Hence the name of Goku in Dragon Ball, who is based on the Monkey King.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lara

    I'm embarrassed to admit that I learned only recently about Sun Wukong, a very famous monkey character all over Asia. That is to say, billions of people on earth are quite familiar with Sun Wukong, and I didn't know he existed until about a year ago! The planet is becoming smaller and smaller, but there are still some East/West divides... In any case, the "monkey" of the title is Sun Wukong. This story, which is so well known is Asia, is usually known as "The Journey to the West" (without "monke I'm embarrassed to admit that I learned only recently about Sun Wukong, a very famous monkey character all over Asia. That is to say, billions of people on earth are quite familiar with Sun Wukong, and I didn't know he existed until about a year ago! The planet is becoming smaller and smaller, but there are still some East/West divides... In any case, the "monkey" of the title is Sun Wukong. This story, which is so well known is Asia, is usually known as "The Journey to the West" (without "monkey" in the title). The story, credited to Wu Cheng'en, dates to the 16th century. This version was translated by Arthur Waley, a British scholar, in the mid 20th century. I'm so glad to have read this tale. It's hard to describe; my one sentence summary would be "The Ramayana meets Don Quixote". What does that mean? It reminds me of Don Quixote in that it was written hundreds of years ago in a land far away, yet parts of it are laugh-out-loud funny to this 21st century American. It reminds me of the Ramayana in that it has an epic scope (characters include the Buddha, Kwon Yin, Lao Tzu, etc.), and a powerful monkey is in the mix trying to do the right thing to serve his master. (In the Ramayana, it is "monkey"/vanara Hanuman who serves Ram; here, Sun Wukong is primarily serving the Buddha. Unlike Hanuman, who is quite earnest, Sun Wukong is a scamp/trickster and much more morally ambiguous than dear Hanuman.) The "journey to the west" in question is a trip from China to India to fetch some scriptures. Why four stars instead of five? There are times when the writing feels stilted to me. I'm guessing that Waley was trying to translate literally (as literally as one can translate from Chinese to English, that is), and so the prose at times feels dense. I'm very glad to have read this; I'm very glad that I have now joined the billions of people who know this whimsical tale.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    I'm not sure about this translation, wasn't a fan, however, I really enjoyed the story. It's a fun book with plenty of humor, adventure, and fantasy. Most people probably know the story already without realizing it because the story of the Monkey King has been retold numerous times, most notably Dragon Ball Z takes several ideas from this story. Besides the Monkey, I also enjoyed Pigsy and Sandy, s this has a unique cast of colorful characters. I should also note this is an abridged version. I'm I'm not sure about this translation, wasn't a fan, however, I really enjoyed the story. It's a fun book with plenty of humor, adventure, and fantasy. Most people probably know the story already without realizing it because the story of the Monkey King has been retold numerous times, most notably Dragon Ball Z takes several ideas from this story. Besides the Monkey, I also enjoyed Pigsy and Sandy, s this has a unique cast of colorful characters. I should also note this is an abridged version. I'm not sure I'll ever find or want to read the full version. As much as I like the story, if I'd ever read the full version it'd have to be a really good translation.

  13. 5 out of 5

    John_Dishwasher

    The way this tale plays out reminds me of legends surrounding holy relics, or supposed events that confer significance upon hallowed grounds. So possibly this is an origin story for some sacred scriptures somewhere. Mostly, though, the book is a balls-out supernatural adventure. At times it reminded me of all the superhero movies we’re being fed right now by mainstream media; and this parallel led me to realize that in today’s movies we are being shown convincing representations of supernatural The way this tale plays out reminds me of legends surrounding holy relics, or supposed events that confer significance upon hallowed grounds. So possibly this is an origin story for some sacred scriptures somewhere. Mostly, though, the book is a balls-out supernatural adventure. At times it reminded me of all the superhero movies we’re being fed right now by mainstream media; and this parallel led me to realize that in today’s movies we are being shown convincing representations of supernatural feats that have fascinated the human imagination for millenia. Now wonder they so intoxicate us! Part of what holds the chaos of this story together, though, and keeps it pleasurable, is the sense that there is a kind of architecture beneath it, some guiding principle. Without this feeling I think it would lose its cohesion and momentum. For Monkey is a so-called ‘folk novel’ (something I’ve never heard of), which includes battling gods and monsters and kings and savage animals and even fighting planets. Probably it is meant to be instructive, to intentionally teach precepts of Buddhism. I’m thinking that’s where the feeling of structure comes from. The Monkey goes through a definite transformation as he starts as a wild creature running amok, undergoes a period of restraint and penance, and then becomes a champion of wisdom. Perhaps his journey is the journey we all go through as we tame our instincts toward maturity, or holiness, or even a comfortable pension. My favorite scenes are the ‘contests of transformation,’ which happen twice, where competing adversaries shapeshift into different forms as they fight, constantly escalating their powers through the creatures they assume. I’d love to see that stuff on film. A quote: “Lift Mount T’ai, it’s as light as a mustard seed, but don’t try to raise a mortal above the Earthly dust.” I read this for free on the Internet Archive.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    i'm very sorry that i didn't like this more. many people seem to think this is a good translation, which disappoints me because i was quite willing to lay the blame at my inability to get into this book on arthur waley though it may be that they are lauding the book for its accuracy in translation rather than in its artistry. i'm not sure why i didn't enjoy it as much as i didn't: i love folklore, and monsters and fighting and adventures but despite all that, this book's take on those things kep i'm very sorry that i didn't like this more. many people seem to think this is a good translation, which disappoints me because i was quite willing to lay the blame at my inability to get into this book on arthur waley though it may be that they are lauding the book for its accuracy in translation rather than in its artistry. i'm not sure why i didn't enjoy it as much as i didn't: i love folklore, and monsters and fighting and adventures but despite all that, this book's take on those things kept making me want to pass out every time i read it. it's abridged but it still felt really long, and inconsistent, and repetitive. the only thing that really interested me was when the priest tripitaka lied to monkey with ease even though he was very pious about not eating meat, or doing other things that were contrary to what he had learned in buddhist monastery. it may be that i just don't get it, i don't know. maybe i am just too ensconced in the traditions of western literature to really appreciate it. but it just fell flat.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Yigal Zur

    great tale from china. the story of a Buddhist monk who left xian, crossed the mighty himalaya with funny followers and came back with loads of scriptures. amazing tale. love it

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Waley's abridged version is widely...tolerated at least, liked by very many. There is also this abridged version of the Yu translation: slightly longer at 528 pages. Copying directly from Wendy - sorry, Wendy, it's just that it was really interesting:The most popular, though much-abridged version (in translation anyway?) is Monkey: The Journey to the West. I did some research and have decided on this non-abridged version instead: The Journey to the West, Volume 1 and just take it on one volume a Waley's abridged version is widely...tolerated at least, liked by very many. There is also this abridged version of the Yu translation: slightly longer at 528 pages. Copying directly from Wendy - sorry, Wendy, it's just that it was really interesting:The most popular, though much-abridged version (in translation anyway?) is Monkey: The Journey to the West. I did some research and have decided on this non-abridged version instead: The Journey to the West, Volume 1 and just take it on one volume at a time. There's a great video with Anthony Yu, the translator of the above Journey to the West, Vol. 1, (http://asiasociety.org/video/educatio...) addressing the Asia Society. During the bombings his grandfather had distracted him with Journey to the West during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. He tells a great anecdote from JttW where Monkey pees on Buddah's hand--it was the translator's favorite part as a boy (of course!). Anyway, the video is 50 minutes long but interesting (esp the first 20 min) & definitely made me want to read it! Also, NYT has an archived review of Yu's translation from 1983: http://www.nytimes.com/1983/03/06/boo... : "The standard modern version, translated by Mr. Yu, is substantially the same as what is thought to be the first edition, in 100 chapters, published (the author was anonymous) at Nanjing in 1592. (Mr. Yu's version differs from this mainly by the addition of a single episode, drawn from a short version of the novel dating to about the same era.)That's alllll from Wendy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Missy J

    July 12th, 2016 Review: FOUR STARS I think I read a different book four years ago. It definitely was a different translation. This time around, I really enjoyed the Journey to the West, or better known as "Monkey" translated by Arthur Waley. The story was easy to follow and quite funny. I never lost track of what was going on. I'm glad that I give this another chance. Monkey is a powerful, ingenious rascal, whose only faults are his self-absorbed regard of himself. I especially loved the beginning July 12th, 2016 Review: FOUR STARS I think I read a different book four years ago. It definitely was a different translation. This time around, I really enjoyed the Journey to the West, or better known as "Monkey" translated by Arthur Waley. The story was easy to follow and quite funny. I never lost track of what was going on. I'm glad that I give this another chance. Monkey is a powerful, ingenious rascal, whose only faults are his self-absorbed regard of himself. I especially loved the beginning of the book, when Monkey rules over his own kingdom and causes chaos in Heaven (which is supposed to symbolize the government). Out of the four Chinese classics, this is by far my favorite book. And it's not a long read! "What's the use of living so long in the world if you haven't learnt even to recognise a joke when you hear one?" - Monkey April 22nd, 2012 Review: TWO STARS Guess this isn't my cup of tea. I chose this book, because I'm right now going through a "read books set in Asia" phase. Among the many books set in China, this wasn't about the communists, Cultural Revolution, torture,... It's one of China' most popular folktale. So I thought, ok I'll give it a try. The way the story was told was unusual, no suspense, filled with old words. It maybe the fault of the translation. Reading this reminds me of "The Fugitive", which was really not exciting as well. But I'm not angry that I read this book. There are good books and bad books, that's life.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kaleido Books

    Fans of the fantastic 'Monkey Magic' series might enjoy reading this early English translation of the classic Chinese folk tale -- one based on historical fact. This particular translation is prefaced by a very interesting essay about the translator, a Christian missionary who found (and thus inserted) various Christian messianic themes into the story. Sadly, this translation has practically no characterisation; it is told as a series of events with very little drama or descriptive language. Very i Fans of the fantastic 'Monkey Magic' series might enjoy reading this early English translation of the classic Chinese folk tale -- one based on historical fact. This particular translation is prefaced by a very interesting essay about the translator, a Christian missionary who found (and thus inserted) various Christian messianic themes into the story. Sadly, this translation has practically no characterisation; it is told as a series of events with very little drama or descriptive language. Very interesting if you're hoping to get closer to the source material, disappointing if you want the fun and drama of good storytelling.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    "I first heard the story in the Japanese drama, Saiyuuki back in 2006, MONKEY MAJIK / Around The World theme song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afnj1... The books is even better so far!" Just loved the book, it's tone is perfect and Monkey is such a great character, while Pigsy supplies plenty of laughs. My favorite part of the book is the three Taoist deities, the trick that Tripitaka's three disciples play on them and how the competition between them turns out. "I first heard the story in the Japanese drama, Saiyuuki back in 2006, MONKEY MAJIK / Around The World theme song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afnj1... The books is even better so far!" Just loved the book, it's tone is perfect and Monkey is such a great character, while Pigsy supplies plenty of laughs. My favorite part of the book is the three Taoist deities, the trick that Tripitaka's three disciples play on them and how the competition between them turns out.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Plots and Points

    This is an interesting little read that provides a small window into what is presumably a much more complete work. This is an abridgement of journey to the West and as such gives you the key plot beats but it's an allegorical novel at it's core so cutting out massive chunks of the allegory really damages the overall effect. The writing style and characters are all great and it's surprisingly funny for an ancient work about Buddhism but ultimately it's quite repetitive and this provides little mo This is an interesting little read that provides a small window into what is presumably a much more complete work. This is an abridgement of journey to the West and as such gives you the key plot beats but it's an allegorical novel at it's core so cutting out massive chunks of the allegory really damages the overall effect. The writing style and characters are all great and it's surprisingly funny for an ancient work about Buddhism but ultimately it's quite repetitive and this provides little more than you would get from a brief story summary. It's worth a go if you're wanting to dip your toe into the Chinese classics but leaves a lot to be desired.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Muhtasim

    I loved this abridged version of 16th century Chinese folklore and it was very interesting.It's mix of many themes adventure, comedy, and drama. Tripitaka (the monk): The main character .He is supposed to represent the best, but also the worst of humanity. He is always is jealous of Sun Wukong’s power, thus he does not trust or care for Sun. And like many humans, he is EXTREMELY sensitive to praise and brown-nosing, thus he always believe Pigsy even though it is clear Pigsy never has Tripitaka’s I loved this abridged version of 16th century Chinese folklore and it was very interesting.It's mix of many themes adventure, comedy, and drama. Tripitaka (the monk): The main character .He is supposed to represent the best, but also the worst of humanity. He is always is jealous of Sun Wukong’s power, thus he does not trust or care for Sun. And like many humans, he is EXTREMELY sensitive to praise and brown-nosing, thus he always believe Pigsy even though it is clear Pigsy never has Tripitaka’s interests at heart Sun Wukong (Monkey King): The actual main character and the only one who seems to get any actual development. Carries the entire team. Has a fleshed out backstory unrelated to the main plot. It has a lot of side characters Many anime series like Dragon ball, Naruto(my favorite one's) are inspired by this story.Someday i might read the 100 chapters long original version

  22. 5 out of 5

    Donovan

    Monkey - Great Sage and Equal of Heaven. I watched the classic Japanese TV series when I was a kid to buying the complete series on DVD so my children wouldn't miss out on the fun (And I can say it is still as good today as it was when I was young). But until now I had not read the book itself. The original was written in the 1500's by a Chinese author Wu Ch'eng-en and was called 'Journey to the West'. The original was 100 chapters long and after trying to read more scholarly translations I foun Monkey - Great Sage and Equal of Heaven. I watched the classic Japanese TV series when I was a kid to buying the complete series on DVD so my children wouldn't miss out on the fun (And I can say it is still as good today as it was when I was young). But until now I had not read the book itself. The original was written in the 1500's by a Chinese author Wu Ch'eng-en and was called 'Journey to the West'. The original was 100 chapters long and after trying to read more scholarly translations I found to be too literal and way too dry (It reminded me of reading the scholarly translations of Gilgamesh)I chose to go with an abridged version - and I am glad I did. The version I went for is the Arthur Waley translation. It is 30 chapters long and captures the beginning and ending quite when and provides a good insight in to the characters. It was the ending for me that I really wanted to read as the TV series was cut short and I never found out what happened. The Waley version of the story keeps this story to a well paced read and includes a couple of the adventures of Tripitaka, Monkey, Pigsy, Sandy and horse that clearly define the characters, their relationships and the spirit of adventure that has made this one of the most read and adapted stories in (and out of) Asia. If you have watched the TV show or want to know what the fuss is about regarding this amazing story then I recommend the Arthur Waley abridged version. PLOT ***Spoilers*** At the beginning of the novel we learn of a monkey born from a stone nourished by the Five Elements, who learns the art of the Tao, 72 polymorphic transformations, combat, and secrets of immortality, and through guile and force makes a name for himself in Heaven - 'Great Sage equal of Heaven' and to put it lightly, gets in to so much trouble that he is ultimately trapped and imprisoned by the Buddha. 500 years later Buddha seeks a pilgrim who will travel West, to India. The hope is to retrieve sacred scriptures by which the Chinese people may be enlightened so that their behaviour (seen as greed, hedonism, promiscuity, and sins) may accord with the tenets of Buddhism. The young monk Tripitaka (Who has his own story)volunteers to undertake the pilgrimage. Along the way, Tripitaka encounters and frees Monkey, and he and Monkey thereafter recruit two more companions, Pigsy and Sandy. There is another member of the group that is encountered and takes on the name and form of a Horse (Formerly a Dragon that had been punished and cast out of his father's palace). They liberate a captive princess and punish her abductor, who has also murdered her father. The father is resurrected and reinstalled as king. They meet several bodhisattvas and fight fierce monsters, make new friends, release slaves, reveal vile plots before finally arriving at Buddha's palace. The scriptures are retrieved and return to China with them. They overcome some final hurdles so the the numerology of their journey is precise and finally they deliver the scriptures to the Emperor and the people of China. They are then returned to be rewarded by the Buddha. Tripitaka and Monkey are made in to Buddha's. Sandy is made in to a Arhat. Horse is returned back in to Dragon form as a great Naga. And poor old Pigsy who hase always been tempered by his greed, is promoted to an altar cleanser (i.e. eater of excess offerings at altars).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa Fabiano

    Looking for a riveting piece of 16th century Chinese folk fiction? Try the hilarious adventure tale “Monkey" (also known as Journey to the West). Penned by scholar Wu Chen An, it tells the story of a mischievous monkey, and is based on the actual pilgrimage of the monk Tripitaka to India, to fetch the Buddhist scriptures for the Tang emperor. Wu layers this earnest, grueling undertaking, with legend, gossip, superstition, religion, and concocts a rollicking bit of satire. The central irony of the Looking for a riveting piece of 16th century Chinese folk fiction? Try the hilarious adventure tale “Monkey" (also known as Journey to the West). Penned by scholar Wu Chen An, it tells the story of a mischievous monkey, and is based on the actual pilgrimage of the monk Tripitaka to India, to fetch the Buddhist scriptures for the Tang emperor. Wu layers this earnest, grueling undertaking, with legend, gossip, superstition, religion, and concocts a rollicking bit of satire. The central irony of the book is that, though it is plotted around a religious pilgrimage, nothing in it is sacred: Taoism is run down as second-rate, the divine denizens of heaven are crushed by complex, impenetrable bureaucracy, Tripitaka, the monk designated for this important pilgrimage, is a sobbing, at times abject creature, and monkey, the disciple assigned to him by a Boddhisvatta, is a self-important brat, addicted to physical violence, moody, and prone to fits of savage rage. And yet, he is the undisputed star of the show, a magical genius who attains the much coveted immortality status (as Buddha Victorious in Strife). The other star of the book is its supreme, unflagging pragmatism. Disciples agonize about tattered frocks, philosophers fret about the cost of coal, immortals haggle about the number of transformations they are allotted, and scriptures command a hefty price tag. It is the unrelenting contrast between the surreal events of the novel - this surplus of magic - and the resolutely practical tone in which the story is told that generates its wit and narrative tension, and makes monkey such an entertaining treat.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Louise Leach

    I had no idea this was a an actual book, never mind translated and available in Penguin classic format! Having loved the camp TV series made in China and shown on UK TV in the late 1970s when i was a child I could not resist reading it. I am very glad I did. As we Buddhists will tell you, it is very difficult to describe the indescribable but I will try. First of all life is humourous, the best part of life is laughter, and this book has plenty of that, and what is more uses it as a gentle didact I had no idea this was a an actual book, never mind translated and available in Penguin classic format! Having loved the camp TV series made in China and shown on UK TV in the late 1970s when i was a child I could not resist reading it. I am very glad I did. As we Buddhists will tell you, it is very difficult to describe the indescribable but I will try. First of all life is humourous, the best part of life is laughter, and this book has plenty of that, and what is more uses it as a gentle didactic tool. Life is also a series of events, some of them make us despair, but there is always a solution, Tripitaka is almost an annoying characterin how he cries at every misfortune on the road, but that is to say we are also whiny and annoying and is to symbolise and recognise the suffering of humanity and the futility of worrying about it. The book is like many books of the west, written a century or so later, a picaresque work, but so much more entertaining, the adventures speed by. It is like a Buddhist "Pilgrims Progress" only with jokes and likability and a message which i prefer to that of Chaucer or Bunyan. It makes a fair stab at Pure land Buddhism, and is inherently Chinese rather than Indian, you can see that with the vein of beauracracy and propriety running right through,Chinese Religions tend to encompass the others, so Confucianism is still there, (in fact I am surprised Li wasn't represented somewhere maybe it was and I missed it) and also with the specific brand of humour. All the hidden as well as glaringly obvious religious messages aside, it is a wonderful story a glorious, ofetn jolly, romp, and I will be reading it to my kids with relish.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cubex

    This book is a major classic of Chinese literature for good reason: it remains a gripping story with unforgettable characters. Arthur Waley is one of my favorite translators, and the fact that he was a skilled poet in his own right comes through in the simple beauty of the prose. I was a little disappointed to find that the translation skips a number of chapters from the original, but a friend of mine who's a fairly well-known translator of Chinese poetry told me that with a few exceptions, the This book is a major classic of Chinese literature for good reason: it remains a gripping story with unforgettable characters. Arthur Waley is one of my favorite translators, and the fact that he was a skilled poet in his own right comes through in the simple beauty of the prose. I was a little disappointed to find that the translation skips a number of chapters from the original, but a friend of mine who's a fairly well-known translator of Chinese poetry told me that with a few exceptions, the skipped chapters are too "culture-bound" to make much sense to a modern audience. In any case, the plot felt well-paced, and I found the unruly antics of the Monkey King and Pigsy so entertaining that's it was almost a shame to see Tripitaka nudging them toward enlightenment. I'm also a huge fan of two modern books that draw heavily on this story. American Born Chinese is where I heard about this book in the first place, and The Laughing Sutra can almost be read as a sequel if this book leaves you wanting to read more adventures of the Monkey King.

  26. 5 out of 5

    shanghao

    Readable introduction to one of the four Chinese literary epics. This one has an interesting preface and serves to give the reader a summarised version of events encountered by the group of protagonists. What it doesn't do is capture the mystic charm of the original text (which admittedly is less accessible to English or casual Mandarin readers), or expound upon the profundity of the journey in its parts. A lot of the scenes ended almost as abruptly as they began and left me with questions hangin Readable introduction to one of the four Chinese literary epics. This one has an interesting preface and serves to give the reader a summarised version of events encountered by the group of protagonists. What it doesn't do is capture the mystic charm of the original text (which admittedly is less accessible to English or casual Mandarin readers), or expound upon the profundity of the journey in its parts. A lot of the scenes ended almost as abruptly as they began and left me with questions hanging by the tip of my tongue. It was 'Sun the Great Sage did this. Then the Master did that. Then such and such happened. Kthxbai.' almost on a loop. The poems were quite skillfully translated though , I must say. Well it's the Year of the Monkey after all, and reading this made me reminisce about the fun TV adaptations I've watched in my childhood. Also what initially piqued my interest was my involvement in translating a mobile game loosely based on the story. Maybe I'll check out more versions or muster up the grit to actually read the original (I merely skimmed the beginning chapters before resting; to say it's overwhelming in its meaning is an understatement) Happy Year of Monkey everyone!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Karen Mosley

    Because I was going to live and teach in China for a year, I wanted to be informed on classic Chinese literature. I started with "Dream of the Red Chamber" which was difficult to follow, with its 400+ characters, and numerous subplots. Then I began The Journey to the West about the famous Monkey King, Sun Wukong, who is a mischievous trouble-maker until he is trapped under a mountain for 500 years, converts to Buddhism, then begins a quest to protect Xuanzang (on his way to obtain scriptures fro Because I was going to live and teach in China for a year, I wanted to be informed on classic Chinese literature. I started with "Dream of the Red Chamber" which was difficult to follow, with its 400+ characters, and numerous subplots. Then I began The Journey to the West about the famous Monkey King, Sun Wukong, who is a mischievous trouble-maker until he is trapped under a mountain for 500 years, converts to Buddhism, then begins a quest to protect Xuanzang (on his way to obtain scriptures from India) as an atonement for his past sins. The Monkey King (an actual monkey)has magical powers, including a flying cloud and a magic cudgel, but he is a trouble-maker and is only controlled by a magic band around his head which can be tightened causing him unbearable headaches. In each chapter, the group meets up with new demons to defeat, and soon the plot became repetitive and I forced myself to read on. It is loosely based on some real events, and somewhat represents our own "journey to enlightenment". I'm glad I read it, however, as everywhere I went in China, I saw evidences of this Chinese superhero and his famous deeds.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ademption

    This is an abbreviated version of the Chinese classic "Journey to the West." Imagine Neal Cassidy roaming around ancient China with actual powers. A dubious superhero who does whatever the fuck he wants. Monkey, the Trickster God, is assigned to guard a monk traveling to the west in search of fabled sutras. All of the action seems to follow this pattern: 1) The monk warns Monkey against something 2) Greedy Monkey does whatever is prohibited 3) the Monkey suffers and everyone must have an unexpec This is an abbreviated version of the Chinese classic "Journey to the West." Imagine Neal Cassidy roaming around ancient China with actual powers. A dubious superhero who does whatever the fuck he wants. Monkey, the Trickster God, is assigned to guard a monk traveling to the west in search of fabled sutras. All of the action seems to follow this pattern: 1) The monk warns Monkey against something 2) Greedy Monkey does whatever is prohibited 3) the Monkey suffers and everyone must have an unexpected adventure 4) the Monkey saves the day, is chastised, and learns a lesson (very un-Cassidy-like) 5) Repeat 1-4 Despite the formula, the book is full of great hijinks, angry deities, and super powers.

  29. 5 out of 5

    DavidO

    This book is funny, witty, and allegorical. Somehow it survived a translation from Chinese to English, and the passing of 400 years (or something like 400 years, I'm not sure exactly when it was written). I'd highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in Chinese culture.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David

    Written in a similar style to the Arabian Nights, but not quite as good, in my opinion. I enjoyed it, but I wasn't as fond of it as I was when it was read to me as a child. Monkey certainly takes part in some funny shenanigans, though!

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