The Longest Now


Journey to the West : Wu Cheng-en’s Magnum Opus, from the Ming era
Sunday December 09th 2018, 3:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In the spirit of winter cataloguing:  Journey to the West, an ancient novel by Wu Cheng-en, has some spectacular chapter titles, which give the sense of the work without spoiling its story.  If you have read the work they remind you of it, but if you have not it is hard to know what to make of the couplets.

The work has been translated and interpreted constantly over the past 4 centuries; most recently in a series of films; but the texture of the original and its chapter structure is my clearest memory of it.  The poetry of the original has been hard to capture in translation; seen too in the title translations.  This version is from Yu’s 2012 revised edition.

Journey to the West 

Volume 1  

1 The divine root conceives, its source revealed;
  Mind and nature nurtured, the Great Dao is born.

2 Fully awoke to Bodhi’s wondrous truths,
  He cuts off Māra, returns to the root, and joins Primal Spirit.

3 Four Seas and a Thousand Mountains all bow to submit;
  From Ninefold Darkness ten species’ names are removed.

(more…)




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