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The Journey to the West, Revised Edition, Volume 1

The Journey to the West, Revised Edition, Volume 1

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4.38

(83)
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Published by UChicagoPress

Anthony C. Yu’s translation of The Journey to the West,initially published in 1983, introduced English-speaking audiences to the classic Chinese novel in its entirety for the first time. Written in the sixteenth century, The Journey to the West tells the story of the fourteen-year pilgrimage of the monk Xuanzang, one of China’s most famous religious heroes, and his three supernatural disciples, in search of Buddhist scriptures. Throughout his journey, Xuanzang fights demons who wish to eat him, communes with spirits, and traverses a land riddled with a multitude of obstacles, both real and fantastical. An adventure rich with danger and excitement, this seminal work of the Chinese literary canonis by turns allegory, satire, and fantasy.
With over a hundred chapters written in both prose and poetry, The Journey to the West has always been a complicated and difficult text to render in English while preserving the lyricism of its language and the content of its plot. But Yu has successfully taken on the task, and in this new edition he has made his translations even more accurate and accessible. The explanatory notes are updated and augmented, and Yu has added new material to his introduction, based on his original research as well as on the newest literary criticism and scholarship on Chinese religious traditions. He has also modernized the transliterations included in each volume, using the now-standard Hanyu Pinyin romanization system. Perhaps most important, Yu has made changes to the translation itself in order to make it as precise as possible.

One of the great works of Chinese literature, The Journey to the West is not only invaluable to scholars of Eastern religion and literature, but, in Yu’s elegant rendering, also a delight for any reader.

Anthony C. Yu’s translation of The Journey to the West,initially published in 1983, introduced English-speaking audiences to the classic Chinese novel in its entirety for the first time. Written in the sixteenth century, The Journey to the West tells the story of the fourteen-year pilgrimage of the monk Xuanzang, one of China’s most famous religious heroes, and his three supernatural disciples, in search of Buddhist scriptures. Throughout his journey, Xuanzang fights demons who wish to eat him, communes with spirits, and traverses a land riddled with a multitude of obstacles, both real and fantastical. An adventure rich with danger and excitement, this seminal work of the Chinese literary canonis by turns allegory, satire, and fantasy.
With over a hundred chapters written in both prose and poetry, The Journey to the West has always been a complicated and difficult text to render in English while preserving the lyricism of its language and the content of its plot. But Yu has successfully taken on the task, and in this new edition he has made his translations even more accurate and accessible. The explanatory notes are updated and augmented, and Yu has added new material to his introduction, based on his original research as well as on the newest literary criticism and scholarship on Chinese religious traditions. He has also modernized the transliterations included in each volume, using the now-standard Hanyu Pinyin romanization system. Perhaps most important, Yu has made changes to the translation itself in order to make it as precise as possible.

One of the great works of Chinese literature, The Journey to the West is not only invaluable to scholars of Eastern religion and literature, but, in Yu’s elegant rendering, also a delight for any reader.

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Publish date: Dec 1, 2012
Added to Scribd: Oct 22, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9780226971407
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vikkilaw reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Warning: Do not read on an empty stomach or with an empty refrigerator.
panfeng1115 reviewed this
I have read Journey to the West by Wu Ch'eng-en. This is one of Chinese Four Great Classical Novels. Every Chinese child knows about this book. Even some kids are too young to read this book, but they love to watch the TV play of Journey to the West. It educated children about bravery, exploration, friendship and whatever they did or met any difficulties; they would face them and solve them. They will be constantly enterprising when they grow up. Also, they can know what’s right or wrong via analysis by themselves. They cannot be like the monkey king has magic to deal with everything, but they will learn that how to pull through by their effort.
steventx reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Journey to the West is an epic fantasy adventure compiled in the 16th century by Wu Cheng’en from a body of oral and written sources. The setting is the Tang Dynasty (7th to 10th centuries), and the novel depicts in allegorical form the growing influence of Buddhism on China and its fusion with Taoism and Confucianism. The novel begins with the birth and early history of its principal character, Monkey. He is a creature of divine origins born from a sacred stone on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit many thousands of years ago. Not content with being king of a nation of monkeys, he seeks out a Taoist master from whom he learns magical powers so potent that Monkey dares to defy Heaven itself. For this he is imprisoned by the Tathagata Buddha under a mountain for five hundred years.Next we have the background of the Buddhist priest Sanzang, himself once an immortal but banished to mortal life as punishment for a careless misdeed. He has now purified his soul through ten reincarnations. He is chosen by the Tang Emperor for a monumental task: Sanzang is to journey from China to India where he will find the Tathagata Buddha atop Vulture Peak. He is to obtain copies of the holy Buddhist scriptures so that the people of China may improve their conduct and well-being.Sanzang is, frankly, a rather pathetic creature, pure though he may be, and could not get across town on his own, much less across a continent. Fortunately he has the divine aid of the Bodhisattva Guanyin, who frees Monkey and converts him to Buddhism so that he can be Sanzang’s guide and protector. Later he is joined by two other reformed immortals: Pig and Friar Sand.The great majority of the novel’s 100 chapters are devoted to the journey itself and the series of adventures that befall the four monks. Most of the adventures follow the same format: They come to a particularly dangerous-looking mountain, forest or city. Sanzang quails in fear, but Monkey reassures him, but provides some prudent warning. Sanzang then ignores Monkey’s warnings, blunders right into the danger and gets himself captured by some evil spirit. Monkey fights a mighty battle to recover his master, but eventually must either resort to trickery or summon divine aid to save the day.Most of the demons and monsters they face are supernatural creatures that have escaped from their heavenly masters and assumed human form. They are particularly eager to capture Sanzang because he is so pure that his flesh has special properties. The male demons will gain immortality by eating him, the female demons by mating with him.Chinese culture has for centuries been built upon a fusion of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, and Journey to the West, while it is most favorable to Buddhism, reflects that fusion. Monkey calls upon Taoist deities as frequently as he does Buddhist ones, and recommends the study of Confucius as well as the Buddhas and Laozi. The particular Taoists represented in the novel, however, are mostly (and spectacularly) evil, as was Monkey himself as a Taoist before his conversion to Buddhism.Though many abridgements have been published over the centuries, the 100 chapter version of Journey to the West is the authoritative one. It is delightfully easy to read, with some very inventive situations and plenty of humorous banter between the clever Monkey and the selfish, simple-minded Pig. With only three characters of any consequence, it is not only an easy book to digest but one that is easy to put aside and pick up days or weeks later. This may be inevitable as some of the adventures do begin to be a bit repetitive, and the novel, in the excellent 4-volume Foreign Language Press edition, is over 2300 pages long. Journey to the West is a cultural treasure that anyone with a serious interest in Chinese literature should read, but it is also an entertaining and amusing adventure story.
iayork_1 reviewed this
A student: One of the most important features of this translation is its accuracy. It is difficult to find a translation that is as true to the original language as this is. Much of the Chinese, especially the poems, is not only archaic but extremely obscure and difficult to approximate in the English language. The author has accomplished this with this work. The footnoting should also be mentioned, The information contained in the extensive footnotes and appendix's has been an integral part not only in my understanding of this book but much of my other studies of Asian mythologies and related materials.
anansi_in_texas reviewed this
Rated 5/5
*****A great comic and allegorical adventure tale of a Buddhist monk's journey from China to India during the Tang dynasty to bring Buddhist scriptures back to China. Along the way, the monk hooks up with several animal/jhuman/magical assistants, including the Monkey King who is one of the best characters in world trickster literature. Deservedly a classic of chinese literature, this is both an exciting and hilarious comic-book adventure and a work of obscure allegory and chinese alchemy. Great fun and fascinating.
selanit reviewed this
Rated 4/5
A classic Chinese novel with origins in oral tradition stretching back well over a thousand years. The standard version was written down in the late 16th century by Wu Cheng'en (or Cheng'en Wu if you're using European name order). It's still extremely influential today, all over Asia: reading this book explained a lot to me about both Chinese and Japanese narrative patterns. If you see a character in a work from either culture named "Goku" or "Wukong," chances are it's related to "Journey to the West."The basic plot is that a worthy monk travels to the West (here, the "west" is India) to retrieve some holy scriptures, and has all kinds of trouble with demons along the way. Fortunate that he has three disciples to protect him - Friar Sand, Brother Pig, and of course Monkey, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven.Deriving as it does from oral tradition, the format is rather episodic. The version I read contained only 34 of the 100 original chapters, but that was more than enough to get the basic idea. It was also a pretty good read. I found Monkey's means of travel especially amusing (he gets around by "somersault cloud").It's not well known outside of Asia. Since I finished this version I've enjoyed surprising Chinese acquaintances by casually mentioning Sun Wukong (that's Monkey) in conversation. They all know the story. Works for Japanese, too, though they titled it "Saiyuuki" instead of "Xīyóu Jì" and changed Monkey's name from "Sun Wukong" to "Son Goku."Well worth a read if you're interested in China or Japan.
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