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Monkey: The Journey to the West

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4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  4,696 Ratings  ·  367 Reviews

Probably the most popular book in the history of the Far East, this classic sixteenth century novel is a combination of picaresque novel and folk epic that mixes satire, allegory, and history into a rollicking adventure. It is the story of the roguish Monkey and his encounters with major and minor spirits, gods, demigods, demons, ogres, monsters, and fairies. This translat

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Paperback, 306 pages
Published January 12th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1505)
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Kyc There are two complete translations of "Journey to the West". One is by William John Francis Jenner and is published by China's Foreign Language…moreThere are two complete translations of "Journey to the West". One is by William John Francis Jenner and is published by China's Foreign Language Press. The other, recently revised, is by Anthony C. Yu and is published by the University of Chicago Press.(less)

Community Reviews

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Steve
Nov 28, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it
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
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Kevin
Jan 11, 2010 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chinese people.
On hold since Summer 2006, I'm done with 3 1/2 volumes of this.

I hope to finish before I die.

9/14/07:

Seriously, I should finish this.

10/4/07:

No kidding.

10/29/07:

Give it some time.

12/9/07:

Wait for it...

2/6/08:

Uh...

4/6/08:

I've read another chapter!

5/22/08:

Guys, really.

6/17/08:

I've read another bit.

7/10/08:

This is getting ridiculous

9/30/08:

What the hell.

4/25/09:

I don't think this is ever going to be finished.

7/26/09:

Except, by some miracle, I HAVE FINALLY FINISHED.

7/27/09:

I've downgraded it from a
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Neaz
Feb 03, 2009 Neaz rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
"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 ...more
Kitty Unpretty
Nov 20, 2011 Kitty Unpretty rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Helmut
Mar 05, 2013 Helmut rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, favorites
Fantastically entertaining

I am always astonished how readable and accessible are those old Chinese classical books. I've stated that for The Marshes of Mount Liang, and it's even more true for the 西遊記 Xiyouji, or "Journey to the West". Dating back to the 16th century, it's as readable as if it was only written a few decades ago. Of course, there are some stylistic quirks you have to get accustomed to - retelling of a just happened event by another person, formulaic plot elements, and the wordine
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Lara
Jun 25, 2015 Lara rated it really liked it
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
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Dave
Jul 24, 2014 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
Hiroshi Saito translation

Heaven Arc
The lesson of the this, the prequel section that sets up the main story, is that you can be an enormous asshole and you'll totally get your way, at least until you piss off Buddha.

Earth Arc
You can continue to be an enormous ass and mouth off to gods as long as you nominally do what they say and use some more polite language.

Water Arc
The gang's all here now. It's imporant who's around when you get your divine punishment. Sometimes they shave your head and take y
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Graham
Oct 26, 2014 Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fantasy, asia
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
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Jim Peterson
Jun 11, 2014 Jim Peterson rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Anh
Apr 22, 2012 Anh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally, it came to an end. 3 months. Books like this should be the slow reads that are done along side with other shorter, faster-paced books.

To be honest, I hadn't expected much when I started: I watched every TV series version available maybe a zillion times before. I believed that I practically know everything about this Journey.

But perhaps my memories blurred, or that they were the little details that I never noticed when I was sitting in front of the b/w 14" television when I was 5; or per
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Maureen
Dec 08, 2009 Maureen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
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 ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Translator W.J.F. Jenner says :: "Because this was a book written for entertainment and pleasure I did not want it cluttered with footnotes. I reckoned that as long as readers were being carried along by the story, they did not want to be distracted by an annotator plucking at their sleeves, and explaining the countless Buddhist, Daoist and other references. Those who do want the scholarly paraphernalia can always turn to Anthony C. Yu's version."

More to the point, here's a piece by Jenner ::
'Jo
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Donovan
Dec 13, 2013 Donovan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, comedy
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 ...more
Matt
2/6/15 - Finished Volume 1 (of 4). This is a fascinating mythic journey so far. This first volume is almost more of a prologue, for those wondering how much of a journey this is going to turn out to be, out of 25 chapters, the first 7 make up the origin story of Monkey, and the next five of the monk Sanzang who at least so far appears to be the actual hero of the story, journeying to the west to receive the scriptures from the Buddha and bring them back to the Tang Emperor.

I would love to read
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dely
Mar 30, 2015 dely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-china
3,5

Uno dei quattro classici della letteratura cinese che avrei voluto leggere da molto tempo. Mi sono decisa soltanto ora perché sto portando avanti una sfida personale leggendo alcuni libri consigliati in Curarsi con i libri: Rimedi letterari per ogni malanno.
Lo scimmiotto è consigliato alle persone che sono restìe ai cambiamenti e preferiscono condurre una vita serena, tranquilla e sicura.
Non è che io abbia paura dei cambiamenti, però devono avvenire gradualmente, ho bisogno di tempo per prepa
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Alex
Jan 09, 2016 Alex marked it as to-read
Shelves: asia
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
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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
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Vanessa Fabiano
Apr 21, 2014 Vanessa Fabiano rated it really liked it
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
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Karen
Jul 15, 2013 Karen rated it it was ok
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 ...more
DavidO
Dec 09, 2012 DavidO rated it it was amazing
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.
Benjamin Parry
Nov 24, 2014 Benjamin Parry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Boisterous and Loud yet refined and with a certain hierarchical pomposity Monkey perfectly maps the classical Chinese vitality and philosophical tradition in a story of universal size with supremely singularcharacters. Journey to the West is the quintessential historical Chinese story. A mythic novel from the 16th century it details the pilgrimage of a Tang Dynasty(8th century) priest from China to India to return with Buddhist scriptures. The original journey did occur and there are accurate re ...more
Howard
Jun 10, 2013 Howard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the retelling of famous for the time Buddhist pilgrimage of the real life Tripitaka (Hsuan Tsang) in 700AD by the Chinese author Wu Ch’eng-en in around 1550. He retells the now mythical, fantastical and legendary exploits as a profound allegory and irreverent religious tale. I have vague memories of a poorly dubbed tv series in the 1970s in the UK of the same name.

Monkey is first introduced as a playful, unruly handful via birth from a stone egg by the Jade Emperor. He becomes monkey kin
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Helmut
Feb 27, 2013 Helmut rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
Sprühender Charme und philosophische Tiefe

Der König der Affen, geboren aus einem Stein, lässt sich von niemand etwas sagen. Er ist ein frecher, unverschämter Prolet, extrem ehrgeizig und dabei aber auch ehrlich und charmant. Das starre, ehrwürdige chinesische Himmelreich ist außer sich über soviel Respektlosigkeit. Um sein gutes Karma wiederzugewinnen, muss der Affenkönig einen Priester auf einer langen Reise nach Westen beschützen vor menschenfressenden Dämonen und anderem Getier. Das "Xiyouji"
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Feiyu Yin
Oct 27, 2016 Feiyu Yin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chinese
西游记对我的影响很大,但是之前我对西游记的主要认识主要来自于六小龄童版的西游记电视剧。很长一段时间以来我一直把这电视剧默认为西游记本身,对其中的情节,人设从未产生一丝的怀疑。直到读了原著之后我才发现电视剧与原著出入颇多,其中不乏很多有意思的事实。
第一点,剧里的三位徒弟的形象都是骗人的。老板电视剧里的美猴王真的是英姿飒爽,威风八面,五官标致,身段修长。而原著的“美猴王”就徒有虚名了。直到现在还难以接受一个身高只有四尺,雷公脸的猢狲竟然是原型。而猪八戒也没有那么皮白肉嫩,憨态可掬。真实的他是满嘴獠牙,皮肤黝黑粗糙,背后有一溜又硬又长的钢毛的存在。他并非家猪而是大野猪,猪刚鬣这个名字才是老猪的真正名号。再说沙和尚,以前并不明白为甚么小妖精向老怪报告的时候总说“大王不好啦,有三个和尚打破山门了!一个雷公脸,一个长嘴大耳朵还有一个晦气脸”,这“晦气脸”从何而来?原来沙和尚的皮肤竟然是靛蓝色的,这在古代是一种不被人喜欢的晦气的颜色。不但如此,他还有一张血盆大口,这和剧里老实本分的庄稼人的形象简直是天差地别。此三人原著里的形象是更科学的。因为从本质上来说,他们在这一世全都是妖怪,与别的妖怪不同处在于
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Missy J
Aug 06, 2016 Missy J rated it really liked it
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
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Jonah
Sep 02, 2011 Jonah rated it liked it
This was on my to-read list for about 20 years.

Here are a few things I was able to glean from this abridged translation:

1. Break a crystal dish in Heaven and you've had it, Laddie.
2. The Goddess of Mercy is fine with torture.
3. Lao Tzu has a short fuse, but he's a whiz with the party favours.
4. Monkeys might not be very refined, but they still throw less poo than self-righteous monks.
5. Even Buddhas still enjoy a good scam.

I quite enjoyed the first part of the story with untamed Monkey and his
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Matthew Preston
Aug 11, 2013 Matthew Preston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a shame that the conversion of this text to a kindle format was so full of errors (for example, every "!" was rendered as "1"1). The translation felt authentic, although the repetition of the adjectives used to describe the characters (Dear Monkey! that fool Pigsy!) made parts of the text more clunky than maybe necessary. But then again, this was an abridged selection (the gaps nearly noticeable though) so maybe that can be forgiven. The character of Monkey was by far the standout, most int ...more
Greg
Sep 04, 2014 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm torn about whether I should rate this higher. I really liked it, and it's a must read for anyone who likes fighting mangas. This is the granddaddy--a bunch of idiots who don't like each other very much get stuck on a long journey where they have to face increasingly dangerous or outlandish obstacles to retrieve the true scriptures from a Buddha. The Monkey King (grandfather of such characters as Goku and Monkey D. Luffy) uses a combination of martial skills, cunning, and a large network of " ...more
Ademption
Sep 03, 2008 Ademption rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who let their id run wild, superhero fetishists
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
...more
A. Dawes
Jul 17, 2016 A. Dawes rated it really liked it
I'll admit it: I was led to this old novel from the hilarious TV show, which I used to watch after school with my brother. Just like the show, this is an episodic journey of four heroes travelling from China to India for the Buddhist scriptures. This abridged tome is great fun and a mad fusion of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, as our roguish set of outcast heroes: Monkey, Pigsy and Sandman, guard Trippitaka, seeking forgiveness and enlightenment in the process. There are demons, demi-Gods, B ...more
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92018
Wu Cheng'en (simplified Chinese: 吴承恩; traditional Chinese: 吳承恩; pinyin: Wú Chéng'ēn, ca. 1505–1580 or 1500–1582, courtesy name Ruzhong (汝忠), pen name "Sheyang Hermit," was a Chinese novelist and poet of the Ming Dynasty, best known for being the probable author of one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, Journey to the West, also called Monkey.
More about Wu Cheng'en...

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“Nothing in this world is difficult, but thinking makes it seem so. Where there is true will, there is always a way.” 33 likes
“After Supper the Master dismissed all except Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha the Monk. He took them out with him and said, "Look at that wonderful moolight. It makes me long for the time when I can return home.” 7 likes
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