Monkey (novel)

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Monkey
Arthur Waley—Monkey.jpg
Penguin Classics edition
Author(s)Wu Ch'eng-En
Original titleXi you ji (Journey to the West)
TranslatorArthur Waley
CountryChina
LanguageEnglish
Genre(s)Novel
PublisherAllen and Unwin
Publication date1942 (original release date)
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages350
 
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Monkey
Arthur Waley—Monkey.jpg
Penguin Classics edition
Author(s)Wu Ch'eng-En
Original titleXi you ji (Journey to the West)
TranslatorArthur Waley
CountryChina
LanguageEnglish
Genre(s)Novel
PublisherAllen and Unwin
Publication date1942 (original release date)
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages350

Monkey: A Folk-Tale of China, more often known as simply Monkey, is an abridged translation by Arthur Waley of the sixteenth century Chinese classic novel Journey to the West (Chinese: 西游记; Pinyin: xī yóu jì) by Wu Cheng'en of the Ming dynasty. Originally published in 1942, it remains one of the most-read English-language versions of the novel.

Contents

Plot [edit]

At the outset of the novel, Buddha seeks a pilgrim who will travel West, to India. The hope is to retrieve sacred scriptures by which the Chinese people may be enlightened so that their behaviour may accord with the tenets of Buddhism. The young monk Tripitaka volunteers to undertake the pilgrimage. Along the way, he encounters and frees the Monkey King, and he and Monkey thereafter recruit Pigsy and Sandy. They liberate a captive princess and punish her abductor, who has also murdered her father. The father is resurrected and reinstalled as king. They meet several bodhisattvas and fight fierce monsters, before finally arriving at Buddha's palace.

Translation [edit]

Arthur Waley's abridged translation was published in 1942, and has also been published as Adventures of the Monkey God; and Monkey: [A] Folk Novel of China and The Adventures of Monkey, and in a further abridged version for children, Dear Monkey.[1] Whereas previous abridged versions of Journey to the West retained the original number of chapters but reduced their length significantly, Waley adopted the opposite approach; he translated only 30 chapters out of 100 episodes, but did so nearly in full, omitting mainly the poetry. He is also responsible for inventing the names of the main characters: Sun Wukong as "Monkey"; Xuanzang, as "Tripitika"; Zhu Bajie as "Pigsy"; and Sha Wujing as "Sandy." [2]

Journey to the West may be roughly divided into three parts: first, the introduction including the origin of Monkey, Tripitaka, Pigsy, and Sandy; second, the actual journey to the west, which has an episodic nature; and last, the ending, telling what happens when the pilgrims reach their destination. Waley chose to translate the entirety of the introductory and ending chapters, as well as three episodes, each several chapters long, of the journey to the west.

Influence [edit]

Waley’s translation was for many years the most popular translation of Journey to the West available in the English language and perforce cited by Western scholars of Chinese literature and appreciated by Western readers. The British poet Edith Sitwell characterized Monkey as “a masterpiece of right sound”, one that was “absence of shadow, like the clearance and directness of Monkey’s mind.”[3] Professor of Chinese literature David Lattimore described it as a “minor landmark of 20th-century English translation”, though adding that it had been overtaken as the most authoritative English edition with the publication of Anthony C. Yu’s four-volumes, unabridged translation published in the late 1970s and early 80s by the University of Chicago Press.[3] Elaine Yee Lin Ho in her study of the British writer Timothy Mo says Monkey remains “the most popular and textually accessible translation” of Journey to the West.[4]

See also [edit]

References [edit]

  1. ^ Amazon.com, Books by Arthur Waley.
  2. ^ Wu Ch'êng-ên. Monkey. Arthur Waley (trans.). London: Penguin Books, 1961.
  3. ^ a b David Lattimore, ‘The Complete Monkey’, The New York Times, 6 March 1983.
  4. ^ Elaine Yee Lin Ho, “Timothy Mo”, (New York, NY:Manchester University Press, 2000), p. 154.