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Monkey: The Journey to the West
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1001 book reviews > Monkey: The Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en

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Diane  | 2050 comments Rating: 4 stars


This is a smaller part of a larger classic of Chinese literature. In the story, a monkey king has enjoyed a fulfilling reign, but realizes that this cannot go on forever since he is getting older and will die one day. He sets out on a quest across China to discover the secrets of immortality and enlightenment. He isn't the most likable character. He is a monkey, after all, and can be a bit mischievous. As I said before, this book is a smaller story within a larger epic about the adventures of a Buddhist monk who goes west to India to get sacred scriptures and encounters many obstacles along the way. The monkey king is one of his companions. We learn his story and how he came to be who he is in the larger story.

Overall, I thought this was a surprising accessible read for a book written so long ago. It reads like a very poetic folklore tale. Lots of symbolism and allegories here.


Kristel (kristelh) | 4185 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "Rating: 4 stars


This is a smaller part of a larger classic of Chinese literature. In the story, a monkey king has enjoyed a fulfilling reign, but realizes that this cannot go on forever since he ..."

Did you read the whole work or an abridged or only part?


Diane  | 2050 comments Kristel wrote: "Diane wrote: "Rating: 4 stars


This is a smaller part of a larger classic of Chinese literature. In the story, a monkey king has enjoyed a fulfilling reign, but realizes that this cannot go on for..."


I read both the abridged and non-abridged versions.


message 4: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1460 comments Monkey: The Journey to the West. I read the 4 Volume set for the Annual Read for 2020. The format was that of a buddy journey with the magical and clever Monkey and the "Idiot" Pig who represented human desires and appetites accompanying the Tang Priest to India in the west to get the Buddhist scriptures that will bring enlightenment to 1000's in the East. The Tang Priest never evolves into anything other than a simpering but loyal follower of Buddhism. His one and only great attribute seems to be that he inspires Monkey to be loyal to him and help him on his 14 year journey. There is never any doubt that the Priest will make it as he has the gods on his side so the whole delight and drama is how Monkey will get him out of each of the 90 challenges he must undergo to become a Buddha. Monkey starts out being someone a bit to clever for his own good and he largely gets the 4 travelers (the Tang Priest, the Idiot, Friar Sand and the horse, who is really a dragon) out of their various predicaments through his superior magical and fighting skills. However, as the episodes pile up on each other, more and more he solves the problem through influence, such as talking another god into helping him, or by being exceptionally clever. In the end he must push the Tang Priest into enlightenment while he attains it himself through his own actions. For being an ancient classic, it is an amazingly readable story that includes many pointed attacks on the bureaucracy and the bureaucrats of that day, along with quite a bit of making fun of all manner of people from Kings to Buddhist and Taoist monks. Quite a delightful read.


message 5: by 1001shelf (new)

1001shelf | 1058 comments Mod
Diane, pronounced "djən" wrote: "Kristel wrote: "Diane wrote: "Rating: 4 stars


This is a smaller part of a larger classic of Chinese literature. In the story, a monkey king has enjoyed a fulfilling reign, but realizes that this ..."
Curious whether it is necessary to read the full version or is the abridged good enough?


Kristel (kristelh) | 4185 comments Mod
started reading this last year and this free audiobook arrived and now I have finished it.
This is like Chinese folk tales. The audio is considered unabridged but it had to have left out the poetry parts. One thing noted is that Monkey does grow better as the book progresses. I am counting this as finishing the book.


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