The Journey to the West, Revised Edition, Volume 4


Anthony C. Yu’s translation of The Journey to the West,initially published in 1983, introduced English-speaking audiences to the classic Chinese novel in its entirety for the first time. Written in the sixteenth century, The Journey to the West tells the story of the fourteen-year pilgrimage of the monk Xuanzang, one of China’s most famous religious heroes, and his three supernatural disciples, in search of Buddhist scriptures. Throughout his journey, Xuanzang fights demons who wish to eat him, communes with ...

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The Journey to the West, Revised Edition, Volume 4

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Anthony C. Yu’s translation of The Journey to the West,initially published in 1983, introduced English-speaking audiences to the classic Chinese novel in its entirety for the first time. Written in the sixteenth century, The Journey to the West tells the story of the fourteen-year pilgrimage of the monk Xuanzang, one of China’s most famous religious heroes, and his three supernatural disciples, in search of Buddhist scriptures. Throughout his journey, Xuanzang fights demons who wish to eat him, communes with spirits, and traverses a land riddled with a multitude of obstacles, both real and fantastical. An adventure rich with danger and excitement, this seminal work of the Chinese literary canonis by turns allegory, satire, and fantasy.

With over a hundred chapters written in both prose and poetry, The Journey to the West has always been a complicated and difficult text to render in English while preserving the lyricism of its language and the content of its plot. But Yu has successfully taken on the task, and in this new edition he has made his translations even more accurate and accessible. The explanatory notes are updated and augmented, and Yu has added new material to his introduction, based on his original research as well as on the newest literary criticism and scholarship on Chinese religious traditions. He has also modernized the transliterations included in each volume, using the now-standard Hanyu Pinyin romanization system. Perhaps most important, Yu has made changes to the translation itself in order to make it as precise as possible.

One of the great works of Chinese literature, The Journey to the West is not only invaluable to scholars of Eastern religion and literature, but, in Yu’s elegant rendering, also a delight for any reader.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226971391
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/17/2012
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 265,900
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony C. Yu is the Carl Darling Buck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Humanities and Professor, The Divinity School, Departments of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, English Language and Literature, Comparative Literature, and the Committee on Social Thought, The University of Chicago.

Anthony C. Yu is the Carl Darling Buck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Humanities and Professor, The Divinity School, Departments of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, English Language and Literature, Comparative Literature, and the Committee on Social Thought, The University of Chicago.

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The Journey to the West


The University of Chicago Press

Copyright © 2012 The University of Chicago
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-226-97139-1

Chapter One

Mind-Spirit dwells at home, and demons revert to nature; Wood Mother together subdues the fiend's true self.

We were telling you about the Great Sage Sun, who dallied inside the belly of the old demon for quite a while until the latter dropped to the ground, hardly breathing or speaking a word. Thinking that the demon might be dead, the Great Sage released his hold somewhat on the demon's innards, and, having caught his breath once more, the demon chief called out, "Most compassionate and merciful Bodhisattva Great Sage, Equal to Heaven!"

When he heard that, Pilgrim said, "Son, don't waste your energy! Spare a few words and just address me as Grandpa Sun!" As he had great regard for his own life, that fiendish demon did indeed cry out, "Grandpa, grandpa! It's my fault! I made a terrible mistake in swallowing you, and now you're in a position to harm me. I beg the Great Sage to be merciful and have regard for the life-seeking wish of an ant. If you spare my life, I'm willing to send your master across this mountain."

Now, though the Great Sage was a warrior, he thought only of the Tang Monk's progress. When he, a person not unreceptive to compliments, heard how pitifully the fiendish demon was begging him, he became kindhearted again. "Fiend," he cried, "I'll spare you. But how will you send my master off?"

"We have no silver or gold, pearl or jade, cornelian, coral, crystal, amber, tortoiseshell, or any such precious treasure to give to you," said the old demon. "But we three brothers will carry your master on a palanquin made of scented vines, and that's how we will send your master across this mountain."

"If you're going to take him across in a palanquin," said Pilgrim, laughing, "that's better than giving us treasures. Open your mouth wide and I'll come out." The demon chief did open his mouth wide, but the third demon walked up to him and whispered, "Big Brother, when he's about to get out, bite down hard. Chew that little monkey to pieces and swallow him. Then he won't be able to torture you any more."

Pilgrim, however, heard everything. Instead of crawling out himself, he stuck out his golden-hooped rod ahead of him to see if the way was clear. The fiend gave it a terrific bite; with a loud crack, one of his front teeth broke to pieces. Withdrawing his rod, Pilgrim said, "Dear fiend! I have already spared your life, but you want to bite me and kill me instead! I'm not coming out! I'm going to torture you until you drop! No, I'm not coming out!"

"Brother," complained the old demon to the third demon, "you've victimized your own kin! It would have been better if we had invited him to come out. You told me to bite him instead. He has not been bitten, but my teeth have been sorely hurt. What shall we do now?"

When that third demon saw that the blame was put on him, he resorted to the method of "Piquing the General." "Pilgrim Sun," he cried in a loud voice, "Your fame has been so loudly proclaimed that it strikes the ear like a crack of thunder! I have been told how you displayed your power before the South Heavenly Gate, how you showed your form beneath the Hall of Divine Mists, and how you have subdued monsters and bound demons on the way to the Western Heaven. But you are really nothing but an apish small-timer!" "In what way am I a small-timer?" asked Pilgrim. The third fiend said, "As the proverb says,

    The valiant stays in the clear;
    His fame spreads both far and near.

If you come out and let me fight with you, then you may consider yourself a hero. How can you be satisfied with fooling about in someone's stomach? If you're not a small-timer, what are you?"

When Pilgrim heard these words, he thought to himself, "Yes, yes, yes! If I pull his intestines apart and bust up his bladder, I can finish off this fiend right now. What's so difficult about that? Yet that will truly ruin my reputation. All right! All right! You open your mouth wide, and I'll come out to wage a contest with you. But the entrance to your cave is too narrow for us to use our arms. You must get out to a more spacious area." On hearing this, the third demon called up at once all the fiends; young and old, there were more than thirty thousand of those monster-spirits. Each grasping a sharp weapon, they went out of the cave to arrange themselves in the formation of the Three Forces and do battle with Pilgrim once he came out. The second fiend supported the old demon as he walked out of the door, crying, "Pilgrim Sun, if you're a hero, come out! There's a fine battlefield right here for you to fight on."

Even inside the demon's stomach the Great Sage could hear the din and hubbub outside, and he knew that they had arrived at a spacious region. He thought to himself, "If I don't go out, it'll mean that I have gone back on my word. If I do, however, I don't know what this monster-spirit with his human face but bestial heart is capable of doing. He said at first that he would send my master across the mountain, but actually he was trying to deceive me and bite me. Now he has even ordered his troops here ... All right! All right! I'm going to take care of two things at once for him. I'll go out, but I will plant a root firmly in his stomach." He reached behind him and pulled off a piece of hair from his tail, blew his immortal breath on it, and cried, "Change!" It changed at once into a rope no thicker than a piece of hair but some four hundred feet long. (The rope, you see, would grow thicker once it was exposed to wind.) He fastened one end of the rope to the heart of the monstrous fiend, but he left the knot loose enough so as not to hurt the fiend for the moment. Taking hold of the other end, he smiled and said to himself, "Even after I get out, he will have to send my master across the mountain. If he refuses and raises arms against me, I won't even bother to fight with him. All I need to do is to tug at this little rope, and it'll be as if I'm still in his belly."

He then reduced the size of his own body and began to crawl out; when he reached the lower part of the fiend's throat, he saw that the monster-spirit had opened wide his square mouth, with fine teeth standing above and below like rows of sharp swords. Quickly he thought to himself, "That's not good! That's not good! If I leave through his mouth and then try to tug at this rope, he'll bite through it once he begins to hurt. I must get out through some place where he has no teeth." Dear Great Sage! Dragging the rope along, he crawled further up the throat of the fiend until he entered one of the nasal passages. A sudden itch in the old demon's nose caused him to "Ah-choo" loudly, and Pilgrim was sneezed right out.

The moment Pilgrim was exposed to the wind, he stretched his waist once and immediately grew to some thirty feet tall, with one hand holding the rope and the other grasping the iron rod. Not knowing any better, the demon chief, as soon as he saw Pilgrim, lifted up his steel scimitar and hacked away at his opponent's face. Pilgrim parried the blow with one hand holding the iron rod. At the same time, the second fiend, using a lance, and the third fiend, using a halberd, both rushed forward and rained blows on him. Putting away his iron rod and letting the rope hang loose, the Great Sage leaped up to the clouds and dashed away. He was afraid, you see, that once the little fiends had surrounded him, he would not be able to carry out his plan. He therefore jumped clear of their camp to reach a spacious spot on the peak of the mountain. Dropping down from the clouds, he grabbed the rope with both hands and tugged with all his strength, and immediately a sharp pain shot through the heart of the old demon. To lessen the pain, the demon clawed his way into the air also, but the Great Sage gave his rope another yank. When the little fiends saw what was happening out there, they all cried out: "O Great King! Don't provoke him anymore! Let him go! This little monkey has no sense of the seasons! Clear Brightness hasn't arrived yet, but he's flying a kite over there already!" When he heard this, the Great Sage gave the rope yet another mighty tug: hurtling through the air like a spinning wheel, the old demon fell to the ground with a thud, making a crater about two feet deep in the hardened loess beneath the mountain slope.

The second and the third fiends were so terrified that they both dropped down from the clouds and went forward to take hold of the rope. "Great Sage," they pleaded as they both knelt down, "we thought you were a lenient and magnanimous immortal, but you are no better than a slippery sneak. We wanted to lure you out to fight with you, and that's the honest truth. How could we know that you would fasten this rope onto the heart of our elder brother?"

"You bunch of lawless demons," said Pilgrim with a laugh, "you have a lot of nerve! Last time you tried to bite me when you tricked me to come out, and this time you bring up all these troops against me. Look at those thousands of fiend soldiers confronting me, and I'm single-handed! That's not quite reasonable, is it? No, I'm yanking you along! I'm yanking you along to see my master!"

Kowtowing along with his brothers, the old demon said, "Be merciful, Great Sage. Spare my life, and I'll be willing to send the Venerable Master across this mountain." "If you want your life," said Pilgrim with another laugh, "all you need to do is to cut the rope with a knife."

"Holy Father!" said the old demon. "I may be able to cut off the rope, but there's still another strip of it fastened to my heart. It's sticking to my throat and making me retch. What shall I do?" "In that case," said Pilgrim, "open wide your mouth and I'll go in again to untie the rope."

Greatly alarmed, the old demon said, "Once you go in, you might refuse to come out again. That's too hard! That's too hard!" Pilgrim said, "I have the ability to untie the rope from the outside. After I have done so, are you really planning to escort my master across this mountain?"

"The moment you untie it," replied the old demon, "we'll escort him at once. I dare not lie." When he ascertained that the old demon was speaking the truth, the Great Sage shook his body once and retrieved his hair; immediately the fiend felt no pain in his heart. (That was the deceptive magic of the Great Sage Sun, you see, when he fastened the demon's heart with a piece of hair. When the hair was retrieved, the fiend's heart no longer ached.)

Leaping up together, the three fiends thanked the Great Sage, saying, "Please go back first, Great Sage, and tell the Tang Monk to pack up his things. We'll bring a palanquin along to escort him." The various fiends all put away their weapons and went back to their cave.

After the Great Sage had put away his rope, he went straight back to the east side of the mountain, where from a great distance he could already see the Tang Monk rolling all over the ground and wailing loudly. Zhu Eight Rules and Sha Monk had the wrap untied and were just in the process of dividing up the contents. "I needn't be told whose doing this is!" sighed Pilgrim to himself. "Eight Rules must have informed Master that I was devoured by the monster-spirit. Master is wailing because he can't bear to part with me, but that Idiot is dividing things up so he can run off. Alas, I wonder if I've got the right interpretation! I'll call Master and see what happens." He dropped down from the clouds and cried, "Master!"

On hearing this, Sha Monk at once began to berate Eight Rules, saying, "You are

    A sure coffin-maker
    Who does in ev'ry taker!

Elder Brother is still alive, but you said he was dead so you could engage in your shoddy business here. Isn't he the one calling now?"

"I clearly saw him being swallowed by the monster-spirit with one gulp," said Eight Rules. "This must be an unlucky day, I suppose, and his spirit has returned to haunt us." Going straight up to him, Pilgrim gave Eight Rules's face a whack that sent him stumbling. "Coolie," he shouted, "am I haunting you?"

Rubbing his face, Eight Rules said, "Elder Brother, you were devoured by that fiend. You ... how could you come alive again?"

"I'm no useless moron like you!" replied Pilgrim. "So he ate me, but I scratched his guts and pinched his lungs. I also put a rope through his heart and pulled at him until the pain was unbearable. Every one of them kowtowed and pleaded with me. Only then did I spare their lives. They are now preparing a palanquin to take our master across this mountain."

When he heard these words, our Tripitaka scrambled up at once and bowed to Pilgrim, saying, "O disciple! I have caused you great inconvenience! If I had believed Wuneng's words completely, I would have been finished." Raising his fists to punch at Eight Rules, Pilgrim scolded him, saying, "This overstuffed coolie! He's so slothful and so callow! Master, please don't worry any more. Those fiends are coming to take you across the mountain." Even Sha Monk felt embarrassed by these words, so much so that he hurriedly offered a few excuses for Eight Rules. They then gathered up the luggage and loaded it once more onto the horse's back. We shall now leave them for the moment waiting by the wayside.

We tell you instead about those three demon chiefs, who led the flock of spirits to return to their cave. "Elder Brother," said the second fiend, "I thought Pilgrim Sun was someone endowed with nine heads and eight tails, but I can see what he actually is—a puny little ape! Nevertheless, you shouldn't have swallowed him. If we had just fought with him, he could never have withstood you and me. With these thousands of monster-spirits in our cave, we could have drowned him just by spitting. But you had to swallow him into your stomach, where he could exercise his magic to make you suffer. We certainly didn't dare wage any contest with him then. Just now we said we were planning to escort the Tang Monk. That was all pretense, of course, because your life was more important than anything else. Once we tricked him into coming out, we would never escort that monk."

"Worthy brother," said the old demon, "what is your reason for reneging?" "Give me three thousand little fiends," replied the second fiend, "and put them in battle formation. I have ability enough to capture that apehead!" "Don't ask for a mere three thousand," said the old demon. "You have my permission to call up the whole camp! Just catch him, and everyone will have made merit."

The second demon at once called up three thousand little fiends and had them spread out by the side of the main road. A blue banner-carrier was sent to convey this message: "Pilgrim Sun, come out quickly and fight with our Second Father Great King."

When Eight Rules heard this, he laughed and said, "O Elder Brother! As the proverb says,

A liar can't fool his fellow-villager.

What sort of skulduggery, what sort of hanky-panky is this when you tell us that you've subdued the monster-spirits, that they are fetching a palanquin to escort Master? Now they are here to provoke battle. Why?"

"The old fiend," said Pilgrim, "was subdued by me. He wouldn't dare show himself, for if he had caught even a whiff of the name Sun, he would have a headache now! This has to be the second fiendish demon, who can't stand the thought of escorting us. That's the reason for this challenge to battle. Let me tell you something, Brother. Those monster-spirits happen to be three brothers, and they all behave gallantly toward each other. We are also three brothers, but there's no gallantry at all among ourselves. I have already subdued the eldest demon. Now that the second demon has shown himself, the least you can do is to fight with him a bit. Is that too much to ask of you?"

"I'm not scared of him," replied Eight Rules. "Let me go and wage a battle with him." "If you want to go," said Pilgrim, "go!"

Laughing, Eight Rules said, "O Elder Brother, I'll go. But lend me that little rope of yours." "What for?" asked Pilgrim. "You don't have the ability to crawl inside his stomach, nor are you capable of fastening it to his heart. Why do you want it?"

"I want it fastened around my waist," said Eight Rules, "as a lifeline! You and Sha Monk should take hold of it at the other end and then let me go out there to do battle. If you see that I'm winning, loosen the rope and I'll be able to capture the monster. If I lose, however, you must pull me back, so that he won't be able to grab me." Pilgrim smiled to himself, saying, "This will be some trick on Idiot!" He did indeed tie the rope around Eight Rules's waist and urged him to do battle.

Lifting high his muckrake, our Idiot ran up to the ledge of the mountain and cried, "Monster-spirit, come out and fight with your ancestor Zhu!" The blue banner-carrier went quickly to report: "Great King, a priest with a long snout and big ears has arrived." The second fiend left the camp at once; when he saw Eight Rules, he did not utter a word but lifted his lance to stab at his opponent's face. Our Idiot went forward to face him with upraised rake, and the two of them joined in battle before the mountain slope. Hardly had they gone for more than seven or eight rounds, however, when Idiot's hands grew weak and could no longer withstand the demon. Turning his head quickly, he shouted, "Elder Brother, it's getting bad! Pull the lifeline! Pull the lifeline!"


Excerpted from The Journey to the West Copyright © 2012 by The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission of The University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments, First Edition
Acknowledgments, Revised Edition


76 Mind-Spirit dwells at home, and demons revert to nature;
Wood Mother together subdues the fiend’s true self.

77 A horde of demons affront native Nature;
The One Body bows to True Suchness.

78 At Bhikṣu he pities the infants and summons the night gods;
In the golden hall he knows the demon speaking on the way and virtue.

79 Searching the cave for the fiend he meets Long Life;
The proper lord of the court sees the babies.

80 The fair girl, nursing the yang, seeks a mate;
Mind Monkey, guarding his master, knows a monster.

81 At Sea-Pacifying Monastery Mind Monkey knows the fiend;
In the black pine forest three pupils search for their master.

82 The fair girl seeks the yang;
Primal spirit guards the Way.

83 Mind Monkey knows the elixir source;
Fair girl returns to her true nature.

84 “Priests are hard to destroy” completes great awakening;
The Dharma- king attains the right, his body’s naturalized.

85 Mind Monkey envies Wood Mother;
The demon lord plots to devour Chan.

86 Wood Mother, lending power, conquers the fiendish creature;
Metal Squire, using his magic, extirpates the deviates.

87 The Phoenix-Immortal Prefecture offends Heaven and suffers drought;
The Great Sage Sun advocates virtue and provides rain.

88 Reaching Jade-Flower, Chan convenes an assembly;
Mind Monkey, Wood, and Earth instruct disciples.

89 The yellow lion- spirit in vain gives the Muckrake Feast;
Gold, Wood, and Earth disturb with a scheme Mount Leopard’s-Head.

90 Masters and lions, teachers and pupils, all return to the One;
Thieves and the Dao, snares and Buddhism, quiet Ninefold-Numina.

91 At Gold-Level Prefecture they watch lanterns on the fifteenth night;
In Mysterious Flower Cave the Tang Monk makes a deposition.

92 Three priests fight fiercely at Green Dragon Mountain;
Four Stars help to capture rhinoceros fiends.

93 At Jetavana Park he asks the aged about the cause;
At the Kingdom of India he sees the king and meets his mate.

94 Four priests are feted at the royal garden;
One fiend vainly longs for sensual joys.

95 Falsely assuming true form, the jade hare’s caught;
True Yin returns to the right to join Numinous Source.

96 Squire Kou gladly receives a noble priest;
The elder Tang does not covet riches.

97 Gold-dispensing external aid meets demonic harm;
The sage reveals his soul to bring restoration.

98 Only when ape and horse are tamed will shells be cast;
With merit and work perfected, they see the Real.

99 Nine times nine ends the count and Māra’s all destroyed;
The work of three times three done, the Dao reverts to its root.

100 They return to the Land of the East;
Five sages become perfected.


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