Considered one of China's great classical novels, Wu Ch'êng-ên's Journey to the West was translated by Arthur Waley in abridged form as Monkey in 1942 and has delighted English readers ever since. It is a riveting adventure story about a priest's quest to obtain holy Buddhist scriptures for the Tang emperor; joining him on this rollicking journey: Sandy, Pigsy, and the mischievous monkey king, Sun Wukong, whose flying cloud and magic cudgel are never far from his infamous deeds. Waley's accessible rendition of Wu Ch'êng-ên's novel has become a classic in its own right: Gods, demons, and disobedient monkey spirits all come alive in this entertaining work.
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"Chinese Classic, excellent narration"
Journey to the West is a Chinese novel published in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty and attributed to Wu Cheng'en. It is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Journey to the West has strong roots in Chinese folk religion, Chinese mythology, Taoist and Buddhist philosophy, and the pantheon of Taoist immortals and Buddhist bodhisattvas are still reflective of some Chinese religious attitudes today. Enduringly popular, the tale is at once a comic adventure story, a spring of spiritual insight, and an extended allegory in which the group of pilgrims journeys towards enlightenment by the power and virtue of cooperation.
Monkey. Sun Wukong.
Kenneth has a great narration here.
The reader "performs" the story, and it is one of the more intrusive performances I've heard. He seems to be worried about missing a plane because he tears through the material at a pace that is occasionally barely even intelligible. The place of occasional cockney accents in a Chinese novel/folktale utterly escapes me, and I disagree with another review who feels that the "echo", i.e. room resonance, "adds to the story", particularly in the loud, and to me over-dramatized, passages, which are all too frequent. My overall impression is of listening to the soundtrack of an animated cartoon. I've wanted to read this book for a long time, but at this point, I'm simply hoping that I can stick out this reading through to the end.
"Monkey is a Dear One, Indeed!"
This is a very long book, however it is divided into bite size chapters. Having said that, I must say that if you are like me, you will not stop until you have to! There is a bit of everything here: history of China; gentle teaching of moral and religious behavior; ADVENTURE; humor; drama; and a rip roaring good time! I defy you not to like Monkey and maybe even to love him as he grows from being a statue, to a king, and eventually becomes The Buddha Victorious in Strife. May the Buddha Bless you and smile upon you!
"Great story and well presented."
I have always been interested in ancient mystery schools and ancient schools of wisdom. The book was very helpful to see all the different points of view on how to live ones life on how to make the world a better place. To watch the story of of the unfolding of human nature to becoming a compassionate being.
If you enjoyed the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita you would enjoy this. Also it helped me get the authors essence which was a little different than the movies. However the movies were great. .
"a must read for ancient folk lore comendy"
a must read for ancient folk lore comendy it is an amazing read you cannot miss out on this book ypy will re read it time and time again it also make for a good kids bedtime story
"Great translation, but reader struggles distractingly with names"
Waley's abridged translation of this great early novel is a classic itself by this point, and it's a lot of fun to read--Waley was a terrific English prose stylist as well as a scholar and never takes the text too seriously for his audience to enjoy it.
But good grief, for a fourteen-hour audio book they REALLY couldn't afford to take ten or twenty minutes first to coach the reader on how to pronounce the Chinese names in the text? Unlike one other reviewer, I don't at all object to the plummy accents--it's Waley, it fits--and I absolutely don't expect perfect pronunciation of foreign words. But nobody even seems to have told the poor guy that "T'ang" (as in the famous dynasty when the story is set) isn't pronounced "Tee-ang." Every transliterated word that possibly could be is hilariously mangled. If you know nothing about the story or any regional history or geography going in, and have never heard Chinese spoken before, this MIGHT not bother you. (At least the mispronounciation is mostly--though not completely--consistent.) But for my part, it's so utterly distracting that I'm not sure I'll make it much further into the recording.
"Classic Abridged Translation of Journey to the West"
Monkey, in most ways the main character of the four pilgrims to the West, can be likened to that of Faust, comparatively speaking. Tripitaka, the Xuanzang of Chinese Buddhist Lore, pales to Monkey (Sun Wukong), as of course any respectable holy man naturally will tend to do. That said, this is a highly original classic of Chinese literature worthy of inclusion into the emerging world cannon, and commonly considered one of China's Four Great Novels.
Humorous much as Don Quixote is, there is no dryness or lack of adventure in Wu Cheng'en's Ming-era tale of Monkey's journey with the great Dharma-retrieving monk. The use of counterpoint is rich and provides a vivid aura of participation in the pilgrimage for the reader, with much the bold romp of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
This is a story that belongs to the world. Truly worth the investment of time and amply rewarding to any student or admirer of Chinese traditional literature and culture.
I was 20 chapters in when I finally looked at the table of contents to see "Exactly how long IS this story?" Kenneth Williams' performance is outstanding, clearly defining each character by voice. The repeating catch phrase at the end of each chapter really does make you eager to hear the next.
If your mid 40s and remember the tv series monkey ...... Well this is what it's based on and it's amazing, funny and to think it was written circa 500 years ago!!
Performed by one of the most talented great oratory performers Kenneth Williams , who just brings all the characters to life in only the way he could
"4 stars because it is abridged"
Only downfall is that it is actually abridged. Still an excellent listen and worth hearing if you've no interest in reading it.
"A rare treat"
Kenneth puts his marvelous caricature acting to great effect his Pigsy is an absolute joy
"This amazing 16th cent Chinese novel is pure joy"
Written in Chinese before Shakespeare wrote his plays, there is a well-attested historical truth at the heart of the story - the journey of a Chinese scholar to India in the 7th century to obtain Buddhist scriptures to take back to China. However onto this basic story is embroidered many layers, with mythical demons, wonderful characters (especially the animal companions of the pilgrim - Monkey and Pigsy and two dragons), extraordinary adventures, and themes reflecting a huge range of familiar European stories (such as Hamlet, the Minotaur, Moses, Oedipus and the Oresteia) which couldn't possibly be known to the Chinese author at the time. Kenneth Williams' performance of the book adds to the pleasure. I think I would have found it difficult to read it all.
Monkey is a wonderful invention. Although he has magic powers, he keeps his simian characteristics: he is curious, arrogant, exuberant, brash and noisy. Above all he is defiant of all forms of authority. The various scenes where Monkey is the one who has to come up with ingenious plans to save the pilgrims from imminent disaster are a delight.
Difficult to say, but the fight between Monkey and the General in Heaven, where both of them change from one shape to another with bewildering rapidity is pretty hard to beat.
This book could never be condensed into one tagline. It is triumphant on so many different levels.
"Saved by The Narrator"
I used to love the Monkey TV series in the 80s. Pure silliness!
The thing is, I'm not a huge fan of Chinese folk tales and, as a result, I found this book to be utterly tedious in places. It's all 'you must go to the temple of the 335 wise lizards and seek out the pink faced baby... cut off his ear and take it to the garden of the the 22 toads in Heaven and present it to the three-legged salmon and he shall offer you a magic that will allow you to turn trees into breadsticks'... this isn't in the book!! But it could be!
Just as I was about to abandon it, there would be a scene that thoroughly entertains for a while. Inevitably, however, the tedium sets in again shortly after. But that's just me... you may enjoy it immensely.
If this book hadn't been narrated by the legend that is Kenneth Williams, I'd have abandoned this book after the 2nd chapter.
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