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Monkey: Folk Novel of China Paperback – January 12, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Evergreen Books by Grove Weidenfeld; Reissue edition (January 12, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802130860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802130860
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Chinese (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Very little is known about Wu Ch-eng-en (c. 1505-80) although he is believed to have held the post of District Magistrate for a time. He had a reputation as a good poet but only a few rather commonplace verses of his survive in an anthology of Ming poetry and in a local gazetteer. Arthur Waley CBE, FBS, was a distinguished authority on Chinese language and literature. He was born in 1889 and graduated from the Universities of Cambridge and Aberdeen. He died in 1966. His many publications include 170 Chinese Poems, Japanese Poetry, The Tale of Genji (6 vols), The Way and its Power, The Real Tripitaka and Yuam Mei. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book for both parents and children.
Helen S. Lam
It is originally written in 4 good sized books and has been translated to English as well (as other languages) many times.
Seriously Honest
An amazingly well-crafted novel with a very very fluid translation that makes it an absolute delight to read.
David E. Weekly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 102 people found the following review helpful By David E. Weekly on February 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was expecting a mildly amusing but somewhat slow-going novel when I picked up Monkey for my class in Chinese Literature. But I could not put it down and finished the whole of it in two sittings! This book is as much of a page turner as any modern novel, using everything from cunning plot turns to end-of-chapter guises ("And if you don't know what became of them, you must listen to what is told in the next chapter.") to absolutely hilarious anecdotes. (I laughed aloud at the "Taoist Holy Water" episode!) An amazingly well-crafted novel with a very very fluid translation that makes it an absolute delight to read. Again: I could not put this book down! The fight scenes were also spectacular...[still panting, having just finished the book]...you must read this book! =)
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By N. Clarke on March 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
Unlike most people, I didn't come to this book through the TV series - I have heard of it, but I've never seen it (although I do intend to try to find it now...).
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!
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Alexander M. Moir on October 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
are mine exactly. When I read this book for my Chinese literature class this semester I couldn't put it down. Though it is abridged from 100 to 30 chapters, most of what is removed is not as interesting. The best part about Arthur Waley's translation of "Journey to the West" (he renamed it "Monkey") is that he is one of the first to play up the very hilarious humor in the book, though there is of course a quite serious religious undertone to the whole thing. This is an amazingly funny story from the Ming Dynasty, which will not disappoint any fan of fantasy, peculiar humor or spiritual quests. A true classic of Asian literature.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 23, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been interested in Chinese literature for some time now, as an Asian American who does not speak the language. As a child I read an illustrated version of a chapter from the novel, and when I was older I watched the TV show based upon the novel, with my father who translated.
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.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Webb on August 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
I first recieved this book as a ninth birthday present from an adult friend who lived in Thailand, and upon reading its first 13 chapters the book quickly became my favourite fairy tale. Monkey's absurd arrogance is funny, but, by the same token, his optimism and self-assurance is infectious. He thinks nothing of travelling from heaven to hell and all points in between (Solving problems along the way by banging a few heads together) or of achieving immortality by stealing peaches. The story of how he got his great weapon (A staff used to hammer the Milky Way flat) by essentially being the worst guest in history to a much put-upon sea dragon, is hillarious. The book, suprisingly for one written 500 years ago in a distant land, contains some of the best-timed slapstick comedy I've ever come across. There is even one moment of true toilet humour that will have you reaching for oxygen, it's so funny. The pace kept up brilliantly; the final scene of the books first act, in which the forces of Heaven attempt to trap the Monkey King, has the air of a Keystone Kops episode by way of JRR Tolkein. However, there are also moments of touching and disturbing drama, as Monkey's personality gradually shifts from mischievious to almost evil, until he is imprisoned beneath a vast mountain and begins the long road to his redemption and eventual enlightement.
I haven't even talked about the main plot of this wonderful story, but it is better if you discover it for yourself. Enjoy!
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