Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reading :: Journey to the West

Monkey - Journey to the West
By Wu Cheng'en

Journey to the West is a famous collection of stories about Sun Wukong, a monkey who achieves immortality and then creates chaos in Heaven, only to be sent back to Earth to pay for his crimes. He is imprisoned for 500 years underneath a mountain, then tasked with accompanying a monk on his journey to the West (India) to fetch the Buddhist scriptures. Like any fairy tale, it's full of magic and lots and lots of killing. It also satirizes inept bureaucracy—the version of Heaven described here seems pretty ineffectual.

Journey to the West has been produced many times, in many different versions. (For instance, the Japanese version of the name Sun Wukong is Son Goku, who should sound familiar if you've ever watched Dragon Ball Z.)

In fact, stop reading this review right now and go search YouTube for Journey to the West.

Are you back? Yeah. Whatever video you clicked on, that is exactly what the book was like. Supposedly someone refilms the story in Asia at least once a year. Here's the latest one, with Chow-Yun Fat in the starring role.

The book itself is an odd mixture of Grimm's Fairy Tales and Pilgrim's Progress. But, as I mentioned earlier, it's much more violent. If that appeals to you, check it out—or just watch more of those hallucinogenic YouTube videos.

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