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The Journey to the West, Volume 1

(The Journey to the West #1)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,245 ratings  ·  94 reviews
First published in 1592, 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 In ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 15th 1980 by University Of Chicago Press (first published January 1st 1592)
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Việt H. Nguyễn This was the first book I read as soon as I learnt how to read (albeit it was the Vietnamese translation), and before that I had my parents and grandp…moreThis was the first book I read as soon as I learnt how to read (albeit it was the Vietnamese translation), and before that I had my parents and grandparents read it to me. I grew up rereading the novel no less than 10 times, and even different translations. So yeah, kids can read it.(less)

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Lois Bujold
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: persons interested in classics of world literature, or ur-fantasy
Recommended to Lois by: tracked back from derivative works
The star rating system is really not appropriate for classic books of this sort, read for curiosity and education as much as pleasure, but have a somewhat random 4.

I was led back to this by revisiting, this month, an anime/manga version from the early 00s of the adventure, Saiyuki by Kazyua Minekura, which may not even be the most gonzo version ever, though I suspect it's up there. But that should get a review of its own. I also see by my Netflix that there is a new Chinese movie of The Journey
Laszlo Hopp
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 t ...more
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 i
This first volume is pretty interesting and less formulaic than the subsequent volumes, which are the pilgrims' episodic adventures, rinsed and repeated. Here we start with Monkey's enlightenment, how he causes chaos in Heaven and is punished; the Tang Emperor makes a really trivial mistake that almost costs him his life and necessitates the commission of a pilgrimage to India to show his piety; Guanyin doing the legwork of gathering all the involved parties for Tripitaka's pilgrimage.

Nov 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 adventur ...more
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, favorites
Sorry in advance for a terrible review, I suck at writing them.

So The Journey to the West starts out with this stone monkey and his adventures on Flower-Fruit Mountain. After the first 7 or so chapters we move to a Buddhist monk and his 3 disciples (one of those being that monkey) going on (surprise!) a journey to the west. I found this book really fascinating and surprisingly easy to read. So far in this story they haven’t accomplished much and have mostly just been gathering disciples, fighti
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 tha

It's been a while since I last made my way through an extended volume set. In terms of familiarity, this doesn't have the recognizable if conscious obfuscation of 'In Search of Lost Time', nor is it as esoteric despite its relative straightforwardness as The Arabian Nights. Indeed, I compared the experience in a previous group read message to my reading of "The Canterbury Tales", which is both more contemporaneous with JttW than the previous two, and also has a more similar structure of a s
Junius Fulcher
Jul 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
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 In
Greg Kerestan
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. ...more
Yigal Zur
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
one of the greatest stories which came from china
Duncan Wilson
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My goodness this certainly expands the story. For comparison, Arthur Waley's "Monkey" is "The Hobbit" and Anthony C. Wu's "Journey to the West" is "The Lord of the Rings". Although it starts strongly with the birth and (mis) adventures of Sun Wukong (Monkey 🙊) it does dip in the middle of this first volume as Tripitaka doesn't even really appear or start his journey until Chapter 12/13. Once the journey starts and monkey joins the quest then it picks up again. There are nice cliffhanger endings ...more
Mary Soon Lee
"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 introd ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Once the pilgrims are on their way to India, the story is a great QUEST plot. I started on Andrew Yu's translation in paperback years ago, but it was the Kindle edition of the revised edition that enabled me to finish the first volume (25 chapters out of 100). A few extended adventures make for a splendid end to this volume. Now I have finally made headway, I look forward to the next three volumes.

Many readers will want to skip the scholarly introduction and detailed annotation. For me they were
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 中文, pre-1900
This is my first of the classic novels in the Chinese canon. I was afraid at the beginning that I wouldn't understand the Buddhist and Taoist references, especially with that opening chapter! And even though most of the time I didn't, the novel was really fun to read. The internal conflicts in the pantheon of gods and halfgods reminded me a lot of ancient Greek fiction, but even by that comparison the Chinese transcendental creatures really made a hotchpotch out of it, with a mixture of Buddhist ...more
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: to everyone. Its a must read classic
Recommended to BurgendyA by: Prof Huo, my former professor of Asian Society & culture.
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
4 🌟 for the story
Another 🌟 for being a Classical Chinese text, written in an age with less exigent public.
If you can go around some certain degree of naiveté, then this is a really good story. Keep in mind that it was written in the 16th Century, so one shall not ask things like "Why does'nt then just break down that d@rn door?" Just bear with it, there will be some sort of lesson for not breaking the d@rn door. Simple accept the ilogical logic of the writer for he does not propose to follow any
Sep 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Robert Sheppard

"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 brother
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who love ancient myth
Recommended to Ele by: Micheal Wood's The Story of China
Wu Chen'en's The Journey to the West feels almost more like a book of myths than a novel. It features Lao Tsu, the founder of Taoism, and Kuan Yin, a bodhisattva as well as the Buddhist goddess of mercy. The mythological and the historical are mixed together, though this book does not even attempt at any sort of historical accuracy. If you love reading ancient myths, you will love this book. Like most myths, the events are based on a real occurrence, but magic and the fantastic come in and make ...more
Sherrill Watson
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it
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 geo
Mary Wyman
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t care what you think, but I loved reading this book!!
I wish I had all four volumes with me right now, though alas that isn’t the case!
It’s hard to criticize a classic, but I will point out that this is not an easy book to read.
Sun Wukong was my favorite character. I have to say, when I first started reading this, I thought the journey would be a bit . . . boring. In terms of the story content. But I was wrong: the first 13 chapters deal with Sun Wukong and Xuanzang/Tripitaka’s origin sto
wendy wei
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mr-baker
Journey to the West is a famous Chinese mythology novel, which has a profound influence on the culture of the whole Asian region. The whole book probably tells about a team composed of humans, monkey monsters, pig demon, and Kappa. After eighty-one hardships and distant journeys, they finally got the "truth". There are various kinds of hardships and dangers on their journey that prevent them from reaching the "truth", but the four of them work together to solve them. This book made me learn that ...more
Ashley Lambert-Maberly
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
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic
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.
Kevin Wilson
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the best English translation of The Journey to the West. Anthony Yu is an experienced translator and scholar, and this translation is lively and enjoyable. Not a children's book, although at times this work has comic elements. My favorite chapters are probably 57 and 58, where Monkey's doppelganger emerges! Highly remarkable work, and remarkable also that the Supplement to the Journey to the West 西遊補 also foregrounds these reduplicative elements. ...more
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not too bad! As an old literary classic, I wasn't expecting it to be so silly and easy to read. While there was plenty of repetitive sections, poetry, footnotes, and a long, kind of boring introduction that often comes with old, translated stories, once the story gets going, it's actually quite fun! Sun Wukong is an absolutely hilarious character.

I hope to read the next volumes and find out what happens, but I need a break, haha.
James Spencer
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this, the first volume of four in this 16th century Chinese epic. In particular, this volume contains Anthony Yu's lengthy essay on The Journey to the West which I found to be the best intro to a classic work that I've ever read both in terms of its contenting Yu's writing style. The translation itself contains some strange anachronisms but I still very much look forward to the remainder of the novel. ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
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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

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The Journey to the West (4 books)
  • The Journey to the West, Volume 2
  • Journey to the West, Volume 3
  • Journey to the West, Volume 4

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