Wednesday, March 12, 2008

西游记 Journey to the West

Journey to the West (or The Monkey King) is one of the four classic novels in Chinese literary history. If you ever ask a Chinese person about Chinese literature they will bring up these four classics, Journey to the West being one of them.
The story is about how the Monkey King, the Pig and Friar Sand protect the Monk Tripitaka on his journey to find the Buddhist scriptures.
The book is written like a comic book with no pictures. Each chapter ends with, "Listen to the next installment to hear how he was dealt with the following morning," or "If you don't know what happened to Monkey King's life, then listen to the next installment," which makes reading it a bit awkward, but overall Chinesely pleasant.

In the 80s a TV show was made which plays out the novel, chapter by chapter using amazing special effects and lots of smoke machines. You can turn on Chinese TV at ANYTIME and this show will be on. Every Chinese person living in China today knows and loves this TV series. I just bought the entire show and am also reading the book. Reading the book helps me understand just what, pray tell, is going on during the show. It seems the producers had a low budget to make this highly fantastic novel and so some of the scenes are hard to understand without any previous knowledge of the story.

Here is a clip from the show...
In this clip, a very fancy party is going on in one part of heaven while the devious monkey king is causing ruckus in another part. He's gotten drunk off heavenly jade liquor, downed a bunch of golden pills of refined elixir and stolen a plethora of heavenly treats to take to his monkey friends down on earth. Now, he's trying to escape the floating ladies with lanterns.



Anonymous said...

Silviaelena, I'll try to get the translation of the books. It will be a change from all the other out of China fictions I've been reading. Go to the theatre that Ross and Ariel went to, it seems like a floating illusion and the inside looks amazing.
Love you,

harumi said...

Hi Silvia. I've been checking on your blog once in a while. It seems like you are having wonderful time in China. Awesome!
btw, did you know Japanese cartoon, Dragon Ball?
西遊記was inspiration source to make the cartoon. They have similar characters in the beginning of story.
I think all Asian read the story.

Silvia Elena said...

Yea, I am having an amazing time. I used to watch Dragon Ball back in Miami, but it wasn't until recently that I realized where the story came from.
Are there any other Monkey king cartoons that you know of?

harumi said...

Cool you know dragon ball:)
hmm.. there may be other too. but I can't think of it.
Have you heard of 三国志(3 country story? I don't know english name)? It's a Chinese story when china was divided into 3 country. My father love the book and he gave me the books, but I haven't had time to read yet.