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Journey to the West (Chinese Classics, Classic Novel in 4 Volumes) Paperback – Box set, January 1, 2003
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About the Author
W.J.F (Bill) Jenner, born in 1940, is an English student of Chinese history and culture. His secondary education was mainly in the Greek and Latin classics. He began the study of Chinese at Oxford in 1958, where he graduated in Oriental Studies in 1962. He earned his Oxford D Phil for a thesis on the history of the great city of Luoyang in the 5th-6th centruy AD.
From 1963 to 1965 he was a translator at the Foreign Languages Press, for which he translated From Emperor to Citizen (volume 1, 1964; volume 2, 1965; laterreprints in two-volume and single-volume form, including one from Oxford University Press), the ghosted autobiography of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, the last emperor of China. He also began his translation of Journey to the West at that time. From 1979 to 1985 he returned to the FLP most summers to complete Journey to the West and to do other translations for the Press and its sister organization Panda Books.They included Lu Xun: Selected Poems, a bilingual edition with introduction and notes published by the FLP in 1982 and Miss Sophie's Diary and Other Stories by Ding Ling (Panda Books, 1985).
Since 1965 he has taught Chinese studies in universities, mainly the University of Leeds and also the Australian National University and the University of East Anglia.
His other books include Modern Chinese Stories, edited and translated with Gladys Yang (London: Oxford Univeristy Press, 1970); Memories of Loyang; Yang Hsuan-chih and the lost capital, 493-534 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981); and The Tyranny of History: the Roots of China's Crisis (London; Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1992; Penguin paperback with corrections and afterword, 1994).
In recent years his main project has been a major new two-volume history of China from the Neolithic the present for Penjuin Books.
He has two daughters and a son.
- Publisher : Foreign Languages Press; 1st edition (January 1, 2003)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 2346 pages
- ISBN-10 : 7119016636
- ISBN-13 : 978-7119016634
- Item Weight : 2.35 pounds
- Dimensions : 4.5 x 3.75 x 7.5 inches
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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To be more specific - this is an epic full of the most diverse adventures, in the style of the glorious Ancient-Greek Iliad, Odyssey and the Tasks of Hercules.
However, strangely enough, this can also be a written description of a computer game, full of battles against ferocious dragons, monsters and corrupted leaders - religious or civil - passing from level to level, till the happy end. The heroes also carry all kinds of special weapons and possess supernatural powers - belonging to a culture that has probably inspired also those very computer games.
These heroes' purpose is double - fighting against evil creatures, and refining their own selves in order to reach heavenly immortality. They are three,- symbolizing the three parts of each body. The witty Monkey represents the intelligent resourceful brain. The pious monk Sanzang is the compassionate heart, and Pig - the village-fool - is the greedy stomach, providing the many humorous episodes. In short - never a dull moment. By the way, the Monkey also becomes a monk, and the unintentional pun Monkey-monk provides us with hilarious instants...
The first chapters describe how Monkey was born from the primordial union between Heaven and Earth from a stone-egg, and how he defied the heavenly rulers, wrecking havoc in their lofty palaces, ruining their peach-feast, stealing the pills of immortality, winning by ruse a wondrous weapon, subduing ferocious dragons as well as many troops of heavenly soldiers, being cooked in a furnace just to win all-seeing golden pupils, erasing his name from the records of the underworld, thus making himself immortal - and more such brave and indeed incredible feats - only to be subdued, finally, by the great Buddha himself. His only way to release himself from his eternal imprisonment is - to help the pious monk Sanzang, whose life-story is most touching, make the 36,000-miles-journey to the west to fetch the scriptures for the impious easterners. On the way they're surprised by seemingly impossible tasks, such as crossing huge seas or lofty ridges, and in addition they meet all kinds of unimaginable powerful fiends, which they must fight according to the different circumstances. Each battle is described in a short free poem, just as the breathtaking views of the mountains, brooks, rivers, storms, flowers and birds are described lyrically.
Each of the many adventures - about 60, at least - is self-contained, and so, even if the reading stretches over several months - nothing's lost.
The reading is easy and pleasant, and mostly - encouraging - since each battle symbolizes our own daily hardships, and so each victory is ours too!!..
Since the book concentrates mostly on the versatile ever-lasting fight between Good and Evil, with very little romance, for example, it could be read by any child, just like fairy-stories. And so, whoever is looking for a present for a youngster, even 10 years old, or whoever is willing to teach a computer-addicted boy or a teenager to dedicate some time to simple reading - this is the book for the task!!
Plus, whoever is willing to enjoy a long journey from China to India, with everything it has to offer - sceneries, people, trades, spirituality, vices, different habits of many countries - at least twelve are mentioned - and also visit many levels of heaven and even the underworld on the way - and get out of it intact - all this without leaving the comfortable home and even bed - especially during long cold nights - just step out and invest in buying this book - it's simply indispensable!!!
A personal confession - I happened to be born in the Year of the Monkey according to the Chinese astrology, and on the day of the Monkey according to the Mexican astrology - so I'm a double Monkey, and I'd detested it!!! Till I've completed the reading of this book. Now I can be proud of myself, just for having such a representative in one of the most fascinating specimens of the world literature - the most charming Monkey you'll ever meet!!! :-)
Top reviews from other countries
While this book is rich in detail and shows the incredible and complex Chinese Buddhist mythology and traditions beautifully, it's obvious that the author had a real hatred of Taoists. If you're a scholar of Buddhism or Chinese religions, this book is definitely a must-read, but be aware of the biases.
The biggest problems I had were that this set of books (the novel is split into four parts) doesn't seem to have been proofread against typos and also seems to have been printed on quite low-quality paper. Also, some of the translation notes are cut off or are missing. Otherwise, this is a brilliant set of books. They're well worth the price.