The first colorful romantic mythological novel in ancient China
Chinese Name: 西游记
English Name: Journey to the West
Author: Wu Cheng ‘en 吴承恩
Originally Published: In 1592 （Ming Dynasty 明朝）
Brief Introduction of Journey to the West
Journey to the West西游记 is the first colorful romantic mythological novel in ancient China written by Wu Cheng ‘en 吴承恩 in the Ming Dynasty 明朝. Together with the Romance of The Three Kingdoms 三国演义, Water Margin 水浒传 and Dream of the Red Chamber 红楼梦, it is one of the Four Great Classical Novels in China 中国四大名著.
It has 100 episodes in all. It tells the story of Sun Wukong 孙悟空, Zhu Bajie 猪八戒, Sha Wujing 沙悟净 together with a white horse escort Tang Xuanzang 唐玄奘 to the West to obtain authentic scriptures, and they encounter many demons and difficulties all the way, through 81 difficulties, get back the true scriptures, the final correction of the fruit of the story. It profoundly describes the social life of the Ming people.
A stone monkey was born in Huaguo Mountain 花果山 in The Aolai kingdom 傲来国 of East China. The stone monkey later became a disciple of Bodhi Patriarch 菩提祖 who named him Sun Wukong. Sun Wukong learned seventy-two changes and had the ability to connect to heaven.
The Jade Emperor 玉皇大帝 sent the Lord Taishang 太上老君 to invite Sun Wukong to be an official in heaven. Later, because of the low position granted by the Jade Emperor, Sun Wukong caused havoc in heaven and was trapped in the alchemy furnace for 49 days. After that, Sun Wukong kicked over the furnace and became the golden eye and fire eye. Tathagata Buddha 如来佛祖 saw the situation out of control, so the great sage suppressed under the Five Elements Mountain 五指山.
Five hundred years later, Xuanzang was chosen by Avalokitesvara bodhisattva 观音菩萨 to go to the West to obtain authentic scriptures to save all living beings. Guided by Avalokitesvara, Sun Wukong became a disciple of Xuanzang, and the two of them set foot on the journey of buddhist sutras 佛经. Later they met Zhu Bajie, Sha Wujing and white horse dragon. Master and apprentice a few people all the way to break through difficulties, get rid of all kinds of demons, finally successful arrival in the west, complete the task of learning scriptures.
The story clearly expresses the idea that in order to realize a good ideal and accomplish a great undertaking, there must be many difficulties, and these difficulties must be overcome. To a large extent, the story of the Journey to the West reflects the spirit of the Chinese people to overcome difficulties and forge ahead bravely, as well as the desire and confidence of the Chinese people to destroy all evil forces in society and conquer nature through the plot of fantasy.
Author of Journey to the West
Wu Cheng ‘en (c. 1500 -1583) was born in Shanyang County 山阳县, but his ancestral home was In Anhui Province 安徽省. He was an outstanding novelist in The Ming Dynasty. He was clever and well-read since childhood, especially fond of fairy tales.
In 1529, Wu Cheng ‘en went to study in Longxi Academy 龙溪学院 founded by Ge Mu 葛木 and he got Ge Mu appreciated.
In 1551, Wu Cheng ‘en took over as governor of Xinye County 新野县, Henan province 河南省.
In 1556, he became the small officer of Changxing County 长兴县 in Zhejiang Province 浙江省.
In 1558, due to false accusations, he resigned his official post and returned to his hometown. In his later years, he made a living by selling articles. He lived about 82 years old and died in poverty.
His frustration in officialdom and his difficulties in life deepened his understanding of the feudal imperial examination system and the dark social reality, and prompted him to express his inner dissatisfaction and anger in the form of strange stories.
Excerpts From Journey to the West
Evaluation of Journey to the West
Journey to the West is full of changes and absurdity. Centered on Sun Wukong, he is omnipotent in heaven and earth. The only thing he feared was the spell.Xie Zhaozhe 谢肇淛
Journey to the West is a funny and mythological novel of great interest. It doesn’t mean anything subtle, it’s just a bit of abusive cynicism. This kind of cynicism is also very clear, it is not hidden, we do not need to deep.Hu Shih 胡适
Although the book is written in the ghosts and gods, but in fact are in line with the worldly wisdom, well versed in social conditions. It is for this reason that Journey to the West stands out as one of the four great works of literature among many ghosts and spirits.Lu xun 鲁迅