The Journey to the West

Oct 18, 2005 11:13 am
I just finished reading Journey to the West. It is one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. I can’t believe this book is not better known in the west. It is funny, whimsical, magical, endlessly entertaining. It is so delightful to read that it is easy to overlook the fact the book is also a very serious allegory about the spiritual journey of the soul toward Buddhist enlightenment.

I can just imagine how extraordinary all the costumes and acrobatics could be for a performing version of these tales. The three main characters are a monkey, a pig and Buddhist priest. They encounter a never ending variety of dragons, demons, gods and fantastic creatures in their journey to collect Buddhist scriptures from India. The main character is derived from an actual priest who brought hundreds of Buddhist texts to China, although he probably bears little resemblance to his depiction in the book.

Amazingly enough there is a full translation available on Amazon. It is called Journey to the West and includes the entire text in three volumes and more than 1800 pages:

If you are not ready to commit to reading 1800+ pages of a book you had never heard of before now (and who would be?) there is an excellent 300 page abridgment called Monkey: A Folk Novel of China. I started out with this one myself and found it so good—-I never wanted it to end—-that I had to move on to the full version:

If you just want to sample the book there is also a cheaper and shorter abridgment of the above translation available as Adventures of the Monkey God:

There is even a version for children Adventures of Monkey King:


~ by severalfourmany on October 18, 2005.

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