The Chinese Classical Fiction—Journey to the West


Journey to the West is a classical Chinese novel which tells us the stories between Buddha, gods and evil spirits. This novel was written during the mid-Ming Dynasty and reflected the social life of that time. The early circulated editions didn’t have the author’s name, but now we generally believe that its author is Wu Cheng’en, a man from Huai’an, Jiangsu Province.

Journey to the West, which depicts the story of Monk Tang and his disciples going west to seek for Sutra, is renowned as one of the four classical novels in China. As a matter of fact, before that there had already been the circulation of a story-book describing the Monk Tang and his disciples seeking for Sutra in West Heaven story, and some characters in Journey to the West such as T'ang San-tsang (Monk Tang), Bodhisattva Kuen-yin, Great Emperor Jade, had been in Buddhism, Taoism and legends for a long time. Journey to the West has just imbibed from them and depicts in a romantic way the vivid pictures of heaven, earth and the fairyland, and the interesting stories happened there. It employs its unique novel language to reflect the social reality of the Ming Dynasty, satirizing the existing ugliness of the society, so it enjoys a very important position in the history of Chinese literature.

The influence of Journey to the West being so wide and lasting is largely because it models the Monkey King, the Pig Marshal, Monk Tang and Monk Sha, etc. into vivid figures with independent personalities and infectious power. Of these, the most talked about and best known is the Monkey King. He is an omnificent humanized monkey, mischievous and cute, knowing precisely whom and what to love or hate. And after becoming a disciple of Monk Tang, he went through a whole lot of obstacles and finally protected Monk Tang brought back ancient India, where the Lord Buddha once lived.


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