• by Wu Ch’êng-ên, Arthur Waley - translator
  • Narrated by Kenneth Williams
  • 13 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Considered one of China's great classical novels, Wu Ch'êng-ên's Journey to the West was translated by Arthur Waley in abridged form as Monkey in 1942 and has delighted English readers ever since. It is a riveting adventure story about a priest's quest to obtain holy Buddhist scriptures for the Tang emperor; joining him on this rollicking journey: Sandy, Pigsy, and the mischievous monkey king, Sun Wukong, whose flying cloud and magic cudgel are never far from his infamous deeds. Waley's accessible rendition of Wu Ch'êng-ên's novel has become a classic in its own right: Gods, demons, and disobedient monkey spirits all come alive in this entertaining work.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great translation, but reader struggles distractingly with names

Waley's abridged translation of this great early novel is a classic itself by this point, and it's a lot of fun to read--Waley was a terrific English prose stylist as well as a scholar and never takes the text too seriously for his audience to enjoy it.

But good grief, for a fourteen-hour audio book they REALLY couldn't afford to take ten or twenty minutes first to coach the reader on how to pronounce the Chinese names in the text? Unlike one other reviewer, I don't at all object to the plummy accents--it's Waley, it fits--and I absolutely don't expect perfect pronunciation of foreign words. But nobody even seems to have told the poor guy that "T'ang" (as in the famous dynasty when the story is set) isn't pronounced "Tee-ang." Every transliterated word that possibly could be is hilariously mangled. If you know nothing about the story or any regional history or geography going in, and have never heard Chinese spoken before, this MIGHT not bother you. (At least the mispronounciation is mostly--though not completely--consistent.) But for my part, it's so utterly distracting that I'm not sure I'll make it much further into the recording.
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- utsusemi

Intrusive performance

The reader "performs" the story, and it is one of the more intrusive performances I've heard. He seems to be worried about missing a plane because he tears through the material at a pace that is occasionally barely even intelligible. The place of occasional cockney accents in a Chinese novel/folktale utterly escapes me, and I disagree with another review who feels that the "echo", i.e. room resonance, "adds to the story", particularly in the loud, and to me over-dramatized, passages, which are all too frequent. My overall impression is of listening to the soundtrack of an animated cartoon. I've wanted to read this book for a long time, but at this point, I'm simply hoping that I can stick out this reading through to the end.
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- John

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-02-2015
  • Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks