The Monkey and the Monk
An Abridgment of The Journey to the West
Anthony C. Yu’s celebrated translation of The Journey to the West reinvigorated one of Chinese literature’s most beloved classics for English-speaking audiences when it first appeared thirty years ago. Yu’s abridgment of his four-volume translation, The Monkey and the Monk, finally distills the epic novel’s most exciting and meaningful episodes without taking anything away from their true spirit.
These fantastic episodes recount the adventures of Xuanzang, a seventh-century monk who became one of China’s most illustrious religious heroes after traveling for sixteen years in search of Buddhist scriptures. Powerfully combining religious allegory with humor, fantasy, and satire, accounts of Xuanzang’s journey were passed down for a millennium before culminating in the sixteenth century with The Journey to the West. Now, readers of The Monkey and the Monk can experience the full force of his lengthy quest as he travels to India with four animal disciples, most significant among them a guardian-monkey known as “the Great Sage, Equal to Heaven.” Moreover, in its newly streamlined form, this acclaimed translation of a seminal work of world literature is sure to attract an entirely new following of students and fans.
“A new translation of a major literary text which totally supersedes the best existing version. . . . It establishes beyond contention the position of The Journey to the West in world literature, while at the same time throwing open wide the doors to interpretive study on the part of the English audience.”—Modern Language Notes, on the unabridged translation
“This is a deftly streamlined version of Anthony Yu’s complete translation of the famous Ming dynasty novel The Journey to the West. The Monkey and the Monk offers a generous selection of carefully chosen chapters, preserving the essential outlines of the story and including all of the main characters who are familiar to young and old alike in China: the monk, the monkey, the white horse, the pig, and the sand-spirit. Reading through this marvelous abridgment, one can experience the whole range of rapture and transformation occasioned by the pilgrimage to India in search of Buddhist scriptures undertaken by the Tang monk Xuanzang and his four faithful companions.”<Victor H. Mair, translator of Wandering on the Way and Tao Te Ching>
“A new translation of a major literary text which totally supersedes the best existing version. . . . It establishes beyond contention the position of The Journey to the West in world literature, while at the same time throwing open wide the doors to interpretive study on the part of the English audience.”<Modern Language Notes, on the unabridged translation>
“One of the greatest ventures of our time in humanistic translation and publication.” —New York Times Book Review, on the unabridged translation>
"The Journey to the West tells the story of monk Xuanzang's 17-year journey from Tang China to India in the seventh century to secure Buddhist texts for translation. Anthony C. Yu, Professor Emeritus of Humanities at the University of Chicago, who produced a massive, wonderful four-volume translation of the work in the 1970s and 1980s, has now written a single-volume, concise version of the epic. Blending cosmology, scripture, adventure, rivers 800 miles wide, and travelogue, this elegant volume retains a mythic quality and is full of musical language and the pomp of classical Chinese literature." — R. K. Dickson, Bloomsbury Review