by Peter Montagnon


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Five hundred years ago Wu Ch'eng-en of Kiangsu in China wrote an enchanting, enormous, sprawling, charming, profound, absurd, story, called Monkey. This allegory was translated in inimitable style by Arthur Waley, the great Scholar of most things Chinese. It chronicles the travels of a monk, Tripitaka, and his three faithful animal servants, Monkey Pigsy, and Sandy. The four of them bring three baskets containing the five thousand and forty eight scrolls of The Great Vehicle, the Mahayana Buddhist scriptures, from India to China. En route, the tale pokes fun at Emperors and bureaucrats, saints and sinners, whether on earth or their mirror images in the sky.

When is a novel not a novel? When it is an allegory? When does a work of non-fiction become a work of fiction - when is it an allegory?

The historical introduction to the compact version of the Oxford Dictionary, which contains four thousand one hundred and sixteen pages, contains the memorable, maxim from the Greek that 'a large book is a great evil'. The dictionary's definition of 'allegory' is delphic; Allegory: Speaking otherwise than one seems to speak.... Description of a subject under the guise of some other subject of aptly suggestive resemblance. But surely, novels to one side, this description covers many scientific papers. Most language verges on allegory, even the scientific, when it discards the crutch of mathematics. Description is allegory.

Monkey has long been my favourite bed-time reading, and over the years, I found myself, almost as if in a trance, writing a modern sequel in between spells of writing documentaries, and running a tv production company. My sequel interweaves science,global affairs, espionage, and religion; the subjects that have dominated my working life, both before and after television. In pursuit of verisimilitude, many of my characters, have been drawn from real life, particularly those from the CIA, the new KGB, the politicians, and the priests. In doing this, I have tried to preserve their often quixotic characters - the spies who would like to be priests, and vice versa. Wherever possible, I have tried to make the scientific, anthropological, and theological material as exact and verifiable as possible, and to this end, I have included more than a hundred end-notes . It is, I suppose, an attempt to write an allegory within an allegory, within an allegory.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780738852157
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Publication date: 03/12/2001
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

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