Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Monkey: Folk Novel of China Paperback – January 12, 1994
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Chinese --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
Probably the most popular book in the history of the Far East, this classic combination of picaresque novel and folk epic mixes satire, allegory, and history into a rollicking tale. It is the story of the roguish Monkey and his encounters with major and minor spirits, gods, demigods, demons, ogres, monsters, and fairies.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
If you’re thinking, “Chinese folklore? Sounds boring.” Think again. This is a superhero story. Monkey, also known as the Monkey-King and “Great Sage Equal to Heaven,” is an immortal who has all manner of supernatural powers. He can fly. He can make copies of himself. He can transform himself—either disguising himself as another being or appearing as an inanimate object. He has an iron truncheon that can be the size of a sewing needle or a mile long and which is indestructible. Wielding said staff, he can defeat armies or deities.
In fact, the flaw in this story isn’t a lack of adventure or thrill. On the contrary, it’s one adventure after the next. If anything, the flaw is “Superman Syndrome.” That’s what I call it when the hero is so ridiculously overpowered that even when he’s fighting gods, dragons, or whole armies there’s still no doubt about the outcome.
Of course, the Monkey does eventually meet his match in the form of the Buddha. The Buddha defeats Monkey not in combat, but in a bet. That event shifts the direction of the story. In the early chapters, Monkey is goes about heaven and earth arrogantly wreaking havoc. He’s not altogether detestable. He does have his redeeming traits, but he’s insufferably arrogant and mischievous. After he’s imprisoned following his run-in with the Buddha, a monk is assigned to go to India to bring back scriptures (hence, a “journey to the west”) to China. Monkey is assigned to be the monk’s guardian and along with two others that they pick up along the way (Pigsy and Sandy) the monk is escorted on his journey. The party faces one challenge after the next, and the trip is long and arduous. Some of the challenges require brute force but in many cases they are battles of wits. So while Monkey may be overpowered, he does experience personal growth over the course of the story.
The story is told over 30 chapters, each set up with a cliffhanger. I enjoyed this translation by Arthur Waley. It is end-noted, which is useful given the historic and cultural nuances that may not be clear to readers.
It should be noted that this is unambiguously a Buddhist tale. There is a bias against Taoists and other non-Buddhist religions evident throughout the story. It’s not just the fact that the Buddha easily defeats Monkey when no other deity or group of deities can, there’s a steady stream of anti-Taoist sentiment. So, Taoists and Chinese Folk Religion practitioners be warned, I guess.
I would recommend this book for fiction readers, particularly if you have an interest in the superhero genre or Chinese literature.
The story itself is a wonderful comedic adventure that provides insights into Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism as well as satirizes Chinese society of the 16th century. Monkey is, as to be expected, hilarious. There are many reviews of the story if you search the internet, so I'll not waste your time writing what others have already written. Just know you'll enjoy!
Here's one of my favorite quotes from the novel.
"They travelled on for many days and autumn had already come when late one evening Tripitaka reined in his horse and said, 'Disciple, where are we going to halt to-night?' 'Master,' said Monkey, 'that is a question for ordinary men to ask, not for such pilgrims as we.' 'Wherein lies the difference?' asked Tripitaka. 'Ordinary people at this hour,' said Monkey, 'are hugging their children or cuddling their wives in soft beds under warm coverlets, lying snug and comfortable as you please. But how can we pilgrims expect any such thing? By moonlight or starlight on we must go, supping on the air and braving the wet, so long as the road lasts.’"
Most recent customer reviews
Read this book to the end
Great work great jokes Aware of nothi