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Monkey: Folk Novel of China Paperback – January 12, 1994
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From the Back Cover
Top Customer Reviews
This translation covers only sections of the Monkey/Journey to the West saga, but what there is of it conveys well the flavour of the tale without outstaying its welcome. The plot, such as it is, revolves around the priest Tripitaka and his disciples (including Monkey), who have been charged to journey to the West and return with Buddhist scriptures for the enlightenment of China.
The story can, at times, be distinctly difficult to get your head around; superficially at least, it's little more than a succession of episodes involving bizarre monsters being defeated with elaborate magical powers. There is, however, plenty of humour - generally farcical in nature, although occasionally quite dry - and the bickering of the main characters is frequently entertaining. The bureaucratic nature of heaven, in which spirits and deities are assigned strictly hierarchical posts - with salaries! - is amusing regardless of how much you know of Chinese history and society.
However, many of the Buddhist and Taoist elements may be confusing to readers unfamiliar with the basic concepts. Some of the episodes rely quite heavily on outcomes grounded in, say, the workings of karma or the achievement of enlightenment - although most do conclude with Monkey and friends beating up the monsters in question, frequently with the spiritual aid of Kuan-yin and other divinities. But I do suspect that there are allusions and layers I'm missing...
To paraphrase the end-of-chapter refrain, if you want to know whether Monkey and his companions succeed on their quest, you'll have to read the book!
Reading this book I was glued to every word for the first 18 or so chapters, as I read about Monkey's development. However, after the disciples had all gathered together, the translation's appeal severely dipped. While still well written, only 30 of the original novel's 100 chapters were translated. Many of the most interesting adventures were lost in the abridgement. What was supposed to a be a long, difficult journey to India seemed more like a quick visit. While I realize this was done in order to keep the story from being too lengthy, I was rather disappointed. I suppose I will have to purchase another translation in order to read the remaining adventures.
I haven't even talked about the main plot of this wonderful story, but it is better if you discover it for yourself. Enjoy!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Translation is always an incredibly difficult task and this one is between not just different languages and different eras, but also different cultures and different philosophies. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jonathan
A link between religion and space. Written as a moral code for childrenPublished 4 months ago by Karen Ashley
An exciting adventure story fleshed out with religious philosophies and historical references. I've never read the original Chinese version so I can't compare, but this abridged... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Evangeline L.
"Monkey" is the funniest book I ever read. And the things "Monkey" does are beyond my wildest expectations. This book is very well read literature in Asia. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Estella Velasco-Gilfillan
I picked this book up after a friend told me it was a classic in China and I didn't honestly expect to enjoy it much. But the first half of the book had me totally engrossed. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mandy J Ward
I used this to introduce myself to Journey to the West since 100 chapters over several volumes seemed somewhat arduous. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Lyle
This is a delightful book, full of side plots and weird characters, strange alliances and stranger heroes, all set in a time and place and culture we Americans know little about.Published 9 months ago by INtramentalist