ExEAS Teaching Unit

Buddhism in the Classic Chinese Novel Journey to the West: Teaching Two Episodes Roberta E. Adams
Department of English
Fitchburg State College

If a monk acts rightly he will grow daily but invisibly, like grass in a garden during the spring, whereas an evildoer will be imperceptibly worn away day by day like a stone. — the Monk Tripitaka

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Themes and Goals

Many approaches can be taken to teaching excerpts from Journey to the West, a novel that incorporates the three major philosophies of China: Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. This unit centers on Buddhist elements of the text, with the goal of providing instructors with materials for discussing in depth two specific passages from Chapter 14 which highlight Buddhist ideas.

Given the accessibility of the text, it works well in courses in world literature, world novel, and Asian studies, and could also form part of the reading list for courses in world religions. Given the late 16 th-century date of the text, it can be taught in the middle of a one-semester World Literature course or at the end or beginning of a course in World Literature I or II. Discussion questions and paper topics are provided for using the text in courses in World Literature I and II, comparing the text to others that might appear on those syllabi. (See also Journey to the West in World Literature Courses” below.)

The unit can be used by itself or in combination with the following other units on Buddhism in East Asia:

“Background Information for Teaching Journey to the West” is designed to provide instructors with materials to enlarge their understanding of the text, whether spending one day on the teaching unit given, or one or two weeks on a larger reading selection from the novel.

Introduction to Journey to the West

Authorship of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West(Xiyou Ji or Hsi-yu Chi), has not been established beyond doubt, but most scholars accept attribution of the popular 100-chapter version to Wu Cheng’en (c.1500-c.1582), who wrote during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 C.E.). The novel was popularized in English through the abridged translation of Arthur Waley published as Monkey in 1943.

The novel reworks and expands on folk tales and dramatic and operatic episodes that sprang up around the historical journey of the Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang (596-664 C.E.) to India to bring the original Buddhist scriptures back to China. Xuanzang’s sixteen-year trip (629-645 C.E.) and his subsequent life-long dedication to translating the scriptures from Sanskrit into Chinese made him a legend in his own time. Unlike the fictional monk, the historical Xuanzang left China without the Emperor’s permission, but was honored on his return. In the fantastic and mystical stories developed about him, he collected a company of non-human immortal disciples, provided by the Bodhisattva Guanyin, to help on his journey. Monkey first appears as an escort during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 C.E.). Wu Cheng’en, in his masterful reworking of the folk materials, brings the disciple Monkey — the real hero of the novel — to the forefront (hence Waley’s choice of title), with the first seven chapters devoted to his biography.

Monkey, the hero of Journey to the West, is a popular figure of East Asian literature, opera, children’s books and cartoons, and television. Monkey masks, puppets, and even children’s costumes are available. Monkey is beloved for his martial prowess and supernatural powers, but it’s his rebel spirit, his complete fearlessness, his wiliness, and his devotion as a friend that make him the sidekick anyone would want to have along on life’s journey. In Journey to the West, the monk Xuanzang (Tripitaka) needs Monkey and his other disciples — or rather, they all need each other — to reach the goal. The novel can be read as adventure tale and satire, but the journey and the goal are Buddhist. Journey to the West is a wonderful vehicle for introducing students to Buddhist ideas through an endearing cast of characters and a story that works on multiple levels.

Brief Summary and Structure of the Novel

The novel falls into two main parts. Chapters 1-12 include Monkey’s history; the conversion of Monkey, Friar Sand, Pig and the White Dragon Horse to Buddhism by Guanyin and their promises to wait for the monk and accompany him on the journey. This first part also contains background on the Tang Emperor Taizong and his selection of Xuanzang (Tripitaka) to undertake the pilgrimage. Chapters 13-100 present the journey to the Western Paradise and obtainment of the scriptures. Master and disciples undergo the necessary 81 trials (the 9 x 9 of perfection), which include numerous encounters with wild beasts, supernatural monsters, and demons, as well as with various good and evil humans. They defeat the demons, often with supernatural help, and help to restore order in human societies. In the final three chapters, the pilgrims present the scriptures to Emperor Taizong and return to the Western Paradise for their rewards.

Teaching Two Episodes from Chapter 14: Introduction

The “Six Bandits” and “Golden Headband” episodes from Chapter 14 provide an opportunity for a focused discussion of Buddhist elements in the novel. These two episodes could be covered in one class period. Provide students with a brief introduction to Buddhism prior to the unit. (See “Notes on Buddhist Elements” in “Background Information for Teaching Journey to the West” and the unit “Foundations and Transformations of Buddhism”)

The Bedford and Norton anthologies both include Chapter 14 in their selections, as does the anthology Western Literature in a World Context, ed. Paul Davis et al. All three use the Arthur Waley translation, and since that abridged text is the edition usually chosen by instructors who do not use an anthology, that translation is featured here. Since the Waley translation omits the introductory couplets and most of the poetry, some of the Chapter 14 poetry from the Jenner translation is provided here. (See the “Primary Text: English Translations” below for a complete list of available editions of Journey to the West and complete notes on the various English translations.)

Note: Instructors using an anthology might wish to assign the entire selection from Journey to the West featured in the anthology. Information provided in “The Pilgrim Characters” and “Supernatural Framework” in “Background Information for Teaching Journey to the West can assist in teaching other sections of the text than Chapter 14.

Episode A: The Six Bandits

A. Student Readings

Waley, Arthur, trans. Monkey: Folk Novel of China by Wu Ch’eng-en. 1943. Reprint, New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1970.

This episode occurs at the beginning of Chapter 14. More precisely, within this chapter, the episode begins on page 131 about half-way down the page with the sentence: “They rose early the next day, and the old man brought them washing-water and breakfast.” The episode ends on page 133 with the sentence: “‘It’s no use trying to teach people like that,’ said Tripitaka to himself gloomily. ‘I only said a word or two, and off he goes. Very well then. Evidently it is not my fate to have a disciple; so I must get on as best I can without one.’”

Also provide students with the opening couplet to the chapter and the first stanza of the opening poem (not included in Waley).

Opening Couplet:

The Mind-Ape Returns to Truth
The Six Bandits Disappear Without Trace.

First stanza of the opening poem:

Buddha is the mind, the mind is Buddha,
Mind and Buddha have always needed things.
When you know that there are no things and no mind
Then you are a Buddha with a true mind and a Dharma* body.

Jenner, W. J. F., trans. Journey to the West. Wu Cheng’en. Intro. Shi Changyu. 4 vols. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2001 (1997-1986). Page 319.

*While Dharma is a complex term, it can be translated as the Law or the body of teachings of the Buddha, hence a pun on “body”; the physical body has become the teachings.

B. The Episode

The couplet: The Mind-Ape returns to Truth when Xuanzang frees Monkey from his five-hundred year captivity under the mountain and Monkey becomes his disciple on the journey.

Shortly into the journey, in early winter, Master and disciple are beset by a gang of bandits. Monkey says he’s never heard of them, so they give their names: “The first of us is called Eye that Sees and Delights; the second, Ear that Hears and is Angry; the third, Nose that Smells and Covets; the fourth, Tongue that Tastes and Desires; the fifth, Mind that Conceives and Lusts; the sixth, Body that Supports and Suffers” (Waley 132). Monkey kills them all, much to Tripitaka’s dismay. Reminding him that, “A priest . . . should be ready to die rather than commit acts of violence” (132-33), Tripitaka tells him that he is evil, this is a bad start, and he can’t come with him to India. Monkey, who felt he deserved thanks for saving their lives, leaves in a huff. Tripitaka was trying to correct Monkey, not send him away, and is discouraged about how to continue the journey without him.

C. Buddhist Context

In Buddhism, the Six Bandits represent the six cauras, the six senses of the body that, when factors of attachment, impede enlightenment. “Monkey’s execution of them is intended to portray in an allegorical fashion his greater detachment from the human senses, a freedom of which his master . . . [has] little knowledge” (“Introduction,” Anthony C. Yu, trans. and ed. The Journey to the West. Vol 1. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977, 59.) Xuanzang’s compassion gets in the way of his perception; his attachment to the phenomenal world prevents him from seeing the bandits for what they are. The six cauras can be compared with the Christian Seven Deadly Sins of pride, envy, wrath, avarice, gluttony, and lechery, which can kill the spirit. In contrast to the six cauras are the six paramitas, the virtues of generosity, morality, patience, vigor, meditation, and wisdom that carry all beings beyond the world of suffering. The Christian virtues that can overcome the Seven Deadly Sins are humility, loving kindness, gentleness, diligence, generosity, temperance, and chastity.

D. Class Discussion

The following questions can be discussed in pairs, groups, as a class, or used for journal entries.

1. Should Monkey have killed the bandits or could he have merely chased them away, as Tripitaka suggests? Monkey maintains the bandits would have killed them and that would have been the end of the mission; consider the allegorical nature of the bandits.

2. Should Tripitaka have scolded Monkey so severely, or should he have extended the pity and compassion he has for the bandits to Monkey as well, and listened to his defense?

3. Did Monkey really kill the six senses if he can get so angry at Tripitaka that he is willing to forget his promise and leave in a huff?

4. Is the couplet that introduces the chapter true? Have the Six Bandits disappeared without trace? What is the relationship of the opening poem?

Students are usually interested in discussing the Buddhist emphasis on freeing the mind from delusion and freeing the self from desire. Is what we call reality really delusion? Aren’t beauty, music, and good smells and tastes part of the joy of being human? Is it possible/do we really want to free ourselves from desire? Depending on your class, some students may relate these ideas to other religious traditions, such as the role of the senses in the seven deadly sins of Christianity, as noted in “Buddhist Context” above.

This episode also provides a good opportunity to discuss the Heart Sutra. See “The Heart Sutra” in “Background Information for Teaching Journey to the West” for the text of the sutra, as well as information for the instructor.

E. Comments

As the pilgrims progress on the journey, they are often beset by demons that attack the senses, and Tripitaka’s compassion frequently prevents him from perceiving evil. Note that Waley often chooses words that echo Christian ideas, as with “covets” and “lusts” in the bandits’ self-descriptions. Even when they understand the allegory, many students will still take the side of Tripitaka, because a Buddhist should not kill. This is underscored by an episode in Chapter 57, when Monkey once again kills a group of bandits. In this case, however, they are human bandits, one of whom is the son of a farmer who offered them hospitality. Tripitaka dismisses Monkey, who goes to the Bodhisattva to complain. She points out to him that the monk’s “heart is set on kindness. Why did someone of your tremendous powers need to bother with killing so many small-time bandits? . . . they’re human and it’s wrong to kill them. It’s not the same as with evil beasts, demons and spirits” (Jenner, W. J. F., trans. Journey to the West. Wu Cheng’en. 4 vols. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2001 (1997-1986), 1299.) At this early point in the journey, neither Tripitaka nor Monkey seem to have internalized the teaching of “no things and no mind” found in the opening poem. Students should be aware of the paradoxes raised in the text and should not feel complacent about finding one “right answer” to the inherent complexities in the text.

Episode B: The Golden Headband

A. Student Readings

Waley, Arthur, trans. Monkey: Folk Novel of China by Wu Ch’eng-en. 1943. Reprint, New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1970.

This episode, also from Chapter 14, begins about half-way down page 134 with the sentence: “After Monkey left the Master, he somersaulted through the clouds and landed right in the palace of the Dragon King of the Eastern Ocean.” The episode concludes at the end of Chapter 14; the last lines of the Chapter/episode on p. 137 read: “Very crestfallen, Monkey put the luggage together, and they started off again towards the west. If you do not know how the story goes on, you must listen to what is told in the next chapter.”

B. The Episode

When Monkey leaves Tripitaka, he intends to go home to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit, but he stops for a cup of tea with the Dragon King of the Eastern Ocean. Asking the Dragon King about a painting on his wall, he hears the story of the humble, dedicated disciple, Chang Liang, who repeatedly fetches his master Shih Kung’s shoe from the water. The Dragon King reminds Monkey he needs to have more patience, learn to control himself, and submit to the will of others if he is to gain the Fruits of Illumination. Monkey decides to return to Tripitaka at once (Waldron, 135).

Meanwhile, the Bodhisattva Kuan-yin, disguised as an old woman, visits the disconsolate Tripitaka. She provides him with a brocade coat and embroidered cap, and a magic spell to tighten the golden band inside the cap. Once Monkey puts on the cap, “If he disobeys you, say the spell, and he’ll give no more trouble and never dare to leave you” (134). When Monkey returns, he finds Tripitaka sitting dejectedly along the roadside. Tripitaka tells him, “I hadn’t the heart to go on, and was just sitting here waiting for you” (135). Monkey is the mind/heart; without him, Tripitaka can make no progress.

When Monkey spots the pretty clothes, Tripitaka tells him, “Anyone who wears this cap can recite scriptures without having to learn them. Anyone who wears this coat can perform ceremonies without having practised them” (135-36). Monkey asks to put them on, Tripitaka recites the spell, and Monkey rolls on the ground in pain. Tripitaka recites three times before Monkey realizes that Tripitaka has a spell. He promises that in future, he will listen to Tripitaka and obey him, but Monkey is so angry, he rushes to attack him, and Tripitaka must once more recite the spell. When he learns Tripitaka received these from Kuan-yin, he’s angry at her as well. Finally, the contrite Monkey says, “Master, this spell is too much for me. Let me go with you to India. You won’t need to be always saying this spell. I will protect you faithfully to the end” (136-37). And they set out.

C. Discussion Questions

The following questions can be discussed in pairs, groups, as a class, or used for journal entries. Some critics have seen the use of the golden band as taking away Monkey’s spirit and independence; students enjoy debating Monkey’s submission to Tripitaka on this point.

1. Does Monkey lose his freedom and individuality as a result of the golden band and his submission to Tripitaka? Why is it necessary to control Monkey mind?

Instructor’s note: In a complete reading of the novel, we find that Monkey functions quite independently and with all his usual spirit throughout one hundred chapters.

2. How does Monkey’s perception of Tripitaka change? Does his conversion finally seem genuine?

Instructor’s note: As a result of this episode, what changes is Monkey’s perception of Tripitaka and of the journey. After the struggle with Tripitaka, Monkey totally dedicates himself to his Master and to the goal of the journey. Whereas formerly he was the center of every enterprise in which he involved himself, now his Master and the goal of the journey become his central focus.

3. What does Monkey stand to gain by accompanying Tripitaka on the journey?

Instructor’s note: Monkey had voluntarily returned to Tripitaka and he wants to cultivate retribution and earn his heavenly rewards.

Journey to the West in World Literature Courses

For colleges which offer only one course in world literature, Journey to the West will fall in about the middle of the course. For colleges which offer World Literature I and II, the text can be taught either at the end of the first course or the beginning of the second, given its late 16 th-century date. The Norton Anthology places it at the beginning of the second set of volumes (Volume D), World Literature II. However, the Bedford Anthology places it at the end of Book 3, which places it in World Literature I. Teacher’s Guides available for the various anthologies offer numerous suggestions for structuring the course syllabus and comparing various texts. The suggestions below are for paper topics or extended course discussion or exams. They can be adapted according to the teacher’s selection of anthology, texts, dates covered, and course focus, or may just help spark ideas.

Students may be asked to choose one of the topics and write a focused essay of 3-5 pages, citing specific passages from the texts to support and illustrate their points.

Topics for World Literature I

1. Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West all involve lengthy journeys. Choosing one of the first two texts and Journey to the West, compare and contrast the texts, considering the following: motives for the journey; the companionship or lack thereof and effect of this on progress of the journey; problems encountered and how they are resolved; and what it means to the main character(s) to reach the goal. Finally, offer some ideas on how the different cultures reflected in the texts affect the various outcomes and/or philosophies presented.

2. There is lack of consensus on whether or not Hanuman, the Monkey King in The Ramayana, may have influenced the development of the Monkey King of Chinese folklore and Journey to the West. Using the selections we’ve read, compare the roles these two characters play in their respective texts and compare and contrast their respective characteristics and actions. Based on what you discover in this process, offer your own opinion as to whether the earlier portrait from India might have influenced the Chinese Monkey King.

3. Using the ideas either from Confucius, Analects, or Lao Zi, Dao De Jing, analyze how Confucian or Daoist ideas inform Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West. For example, you might apply Confucian ideas of community and human relationships, or Daoist ideas of non-action and following the Dao, etc. Be very specific in applying and citing the earlier texts to show that this is a Confucian or Daoist journey.

Topics for World Literature II

1. For both Voltaire’s Candide and Wu Cheng’en’s Monkey, the relationships these characters have with their fellow travelers are important. Using specific relationships, discuss the idea of community, friendship, and love or respect, and the importance of these values to the main characters and to their motives and actions. [Note: The differences in meaning of the term “Enlightenment” for the contexts of these works should be discussed in class, or could be incorporated into this paper topic.]

2. Matsuo Basho, in his Narrow Road of the Interior, says that for many, “travel is life, travel is home” (Norton Anthology, Vol. D, 607). The travelers in works we have read have various motives for undertaking their travels and for continuing them. They encounter a variety of adventures and undergo a range of emotions. Choose either Voltaire’s Candide or Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and compare and contrast the travelers’ motives and their views and feeling about what they observe and experience with that of the travelers in Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West. Is travel “life” and/or “home” for any of these travelers? Explain your conclusions as fully as possible.

3. Several of the characters in texts we have read are looked up to as authoritative figures by others in the work: Pangloss, the Monk Tripitaka, Kuan-yin, Master Houyhnhnm. Choosing two or three of these figures, from at least two different texts and cultures, explain what it is that gives the characters authority, what others expect of them or how they regard them, and what influence they have on the course of events. Does the view of these characters’ authority change over the course of the selection, and if so, why? Given the satire in these works, does the reader (do you) perceive the bases for authority and the authoritative figures in the same light as do the characters within the works?

Further Reading and Resources

A. Primary Text: English Translations

The major translators have been Arthur Waley (1943), Anthony Yu (who withholds authorial attribution to Wu, 1977) and W.J.F Jenner (2001; 1977-1986). An abridged “retelling” by David Kherdian was published in 2000.

Jenner, W. J. F., trans. Journey to the West. Wu Cheng’en. Intro. Shi Changyu. 4 vols. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2001 (1997-1986).

This is the most recent complete translation. It’s quite colloquial and the Chinese names are given in pinyin, the current transliteration usage internationally. (Jenner also translates more Chinese proper nouns into English and Sanskrit names into Chinese than does Yu.) The prose and poetry are dynamic, accessible to students, and fun. It’s available only in the four-volume slip-cased set, not in any of the anthologies. For a course in Asian studies or world novel, where more time can be spent on the text, instructors may want to consider using this translation.

Kherdian, David. Monkey: A Journey to the West. A retelling of the Chinese folk novel by Wu Ch’eng-en. Boston & London: Shambhala, 2000.

This edition mimics the Waley in providing a condensed version for classroom use; major selections are from Chapters 1-7, 14, 59-61, and 98-100. Like Waley, Kherdian omits the introductory couplets, most of the poetry, and the Heart Sutra. Includes lovely black and white reproductions of the woodblock illustrations of Hokusai (1760-1849) and other artists from an 1833 Japanese retelling.

Waley, Arthur, trans. Monkey: Folk Novel of China by Wu Ch’eng-en. 1943. Reprint, New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1970.

The edition that popularized the novel; provides most of thirty chapters, but omits most of the poetry, the introductory couplets, and the Heart Sutra.

Waley’s translation is anthologized in the following:

The Bedford Anthology of World Literature. Book 3: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650. Ed. Paul Davis et al. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 832-911. ( Ch. 8, from Ch. 12-13, Ch. 14, 16-21, from Ch. 22, 28).

Literatures of Asia From Antiquity to the Present. Ed. Tony Barnstone. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003. 341-357 ( Ch. 1-2).

Literatures of Asia, Africa, and Latin America From Antiquity to the Present. Ed. Willis Barnstone and Tony Barnstone. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999. 338-355. ( Ch. 1-2).

The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Vol. D: 1650-1800. 2 nd ed. Ed. Sarah Lawall. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2002. 8-71. (Ch 1, 14-21).

Western Literature in a World Context. Vol. 1: The Ancient World through the Renaissance. Ed. Paul Davis et al. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. 2134-2202. ( Ch. 8; from Ch. 12-13; Ch. 14-21; from Ch. 22, 28).

The World of Literature. Ed. Louise Westling et al. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999. 1049-1060. (from Ch. 16, Ch. 17).

Yu, Anthony C., trans. and ed. The Journey to the West. 4 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977.

Yu’s four-volume set is the first complete English translation. The introduction and notes are scholarly, detailed, and extensive. This translation is highly recommended to the instructor and advanced students for its detailed background and explication. However, these features — and the expense of the individual volumes — make this edition most appropriate only for upper-level or graduate courses. Yu uses the old Wade/Giles transliteration of Chinese names.

Yu’s translation is anthologized in the following:

The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature. Ed. Victor H. Mair. New York: Columbia UP, 1994. 966-980. ( Ch. 7).

The Longman Anthology of World Literature, Vol. C: The Early Modern Period. Ed. Jane Tylus and David Damrosch. New York: Pearson Longman, 2004. 30-107. (from Ch. 1, 2, 7, 8, 12; Ch. 53; from 69-72, 98, 99, 100).


B. Critical Commentary and Background

Adams, Roberta E. “Aspects of Authority in Wu Cheng-en’s Journey to the West.” Chinese Cultures of Authority. Ed. Roger T. Ames and Peter Hershock. Albany: SUNY Press, Forthcoming Spring 2006.

Bantly, Francisca Cho. “Buddhist Allegory in the Journey to the West.” The Journal of Asian Studies 48:3 (1989): 512-24.

Campany, Rob. “Cosmogony and Self-Cultivation: The Demonic and the Ethical in Two Chinese Novels.” Journal of Religious Ethics 14:1 (1986): 81-112. de Bary, Wm. Theodore and Irene Bloom, comps. “The School of Consciousness-Only.” In Sources of Chinese Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. 2nd ed., Vol. I: 440-44.

Dudbridge, Glen. “The Hundred-Chapter Hsi-yu chi and Its Early Versions.” Asia Major. n.s. 14:2 (1969): 141-91.

Hsia, C. T. The Classic Chinese Novel: A Critical Introduction. New York: Columbia University Press, 1968.

Liu, I-Ming. “How to Read “The Original Intent of the Journey to the West,” Trans. Anthony C.

Yu, In David L. Rolston, ed. How to Read the Chinese Novel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. 299-315.

Plaks, Andrew H. “Allegory in Hsi-Yu Chi and Hung-Lou Meng.” In Chinese Narrative: Critical and Theoretical Essays. Ed. Andrew H. Plaks. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977. 163-202.

*-----. The Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987.

-----. “The Journey to the West.” In Masterworks of Asian Literature in Comparative Perspective: A Guide for Teaching. Ed. Barbara Stoler Miller. Columbia Project on Asia in the Core Curriculum. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1994. 272-284.

Shi, Changyu. Introduction to Journey to the West. Wu Cheng’en. Trans. W. J. F. Jenner. 4 vols. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2001.

Waley, Arthur. The Real Tripitaka and Other Pieces. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1952.

Wriggins, Sally Hovey. Xuanzang: A Buddhist Pilgrim on the Silk Road. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996.


C. Videos

Journey to the West. Animated video, 52 episodes on 28 VCDs. China Central Television (CCTV).MandarinChinese. 1999. Distributed by ChinaSprout. (www.chinasprout.com)

Journey to the West: Legends of the Monkey King. Animated video, 72 minutes. China Central Television (CCTV)/Cinar Productions, 2001. English version from the 1999 Chinese TV series. Distributed in the U.S. by ChinaSprout, Inc. (www.chinasprout.com).


D. Children’s Illustrated Books in English

The Making of Monkey King. English/Chinese. Retold by Robert Kraus and Debby Chen. Illustrated by Wenhai Ma. Adventures of Monkey King, Vol. 1. Union City, CA: Pan Asian Publications, 1998.

Monkey King Wreaks Havoc in Heaven. English/Chinese. Retold by Debby Chen. Illustrated by Wenhai Ma. Adventures of Monkey King, Vol. 2. Scarborough, Ontario: Pan Asian Publications, 2001.


E. Selected Internet Resources (including images)

China the Beautiful: “Monkey-Journey to the West”

Includes several illustrations for Journey to the West and Chapters 1-8 in Chinese.

ChinaSprout, Inc. ( Brooklyn, NY)

A site for purchasing children’s books, videos, puppets, papercuts, masks, children’s T-shirts and costumes, and the complete set of 52 episodes of the animated Chinese TV production (28 VCDs in Mandarin Chinese).

Monkey Heaven

This frequently updated UK site is “a tribute to the cult classic live action Japanese TV series . . . made by NTV in the late 1970s.” It provides information on the series as dubbed into English and aired in the UK, giving broadcast schedules, DVD Box sets for purchase, and links to numerous other Internet sites for Monkey TV fans, including Monkey gifts to purchase.


Features a nice image of the pilgrims from a Chinese language website.


Two years ago, after teaching Journey to the West in a World Literature II class, I realized the inadequacy of my answers to student questions about the text and its background. That summer, I read the entire 2000-plus pages, comparing the Jenner and Yu translations, and as much criticism as I could locate in English. This initial work on Journey to the West became the basis for an article for the on-line conference, “Cultures of Authority,” sponsored by the Asian Studies Development Program, September 2003. I have used materials from that article, which will appear in a published collection from the conference, in this unit. Both my article and this unit are especially indebted to the work of Anthony Yu, C.T. Hsia, and Andrew Plaks.


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