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Xi You Ji

Xi You Ji, known as Journey to the West to foreign readers, came out in the middle of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) by Wu Cheng'en (approximately 1500-1582). Also one of the four famous books in Chinese literature, it is referred to as the most brilliant Chinese mythological novel.

Journey to the West tells the story of how Xuan Zang, a Buddhist monk of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), endures countless difficulties imposed by various monsters and demons, and finally gets to the West assisted by his three disciples: Sun Wukong (Monkey King), Pigsy, and Friar Sha.

The Monkey King is the most brilliant figure in the novel. He loves freedom and has a fighting spirit. He is arrogant and unyielding in the face of gods and Buddha, but at the same time is very obedient and loyal to his master, Xuan Zang.

Xuan Zang's character embodies both the piety of a Buddhist monk and the stubbornness of a feudal scholar. The author criticizes Xuan Zang's timidity and incompetence by contrasting his character to Sun Wukong's bravery and resourcefulness.

Pigsy is an important foil in the novel. He is rude and avaricious, and lusts after women. His arrogance and self-pitying behavior brings much comic relief to the novel.

Journey to the West imagines a world of rigid hierarchy managed by gods, which apparently mirrors the social reality of the actual world. The almighty Jade Emperor (the Supreme Deity of Taoism), the High Lord, the Buddhist monks, and all kinds of cruel monsters and demons are all archetypes to be found in real life.

Journey to the West has a strong romantic flavor. The author creates a supernatural world, but the gods and spirits, their magic weapons, and even the environment in which they live are all based on reality. While depicting various gods and demons, the author not only endows them with supernatural abilities but also with the attributive character of an animal. For example, Sun Wukong's agility and impatience comes from a monkey's character, while his optimism and rebellious personality appear to be human. In different ways, rich and fantastic imagination and real life are well blended in the novel .

The structure of Journey to the West centers on characters, with the plot being carried out with their actions. All the 81 difficulties Xuan Zang and his disciples encounter are vividly told around the complicated relationships among Buddhist monks, Buddhas, and demons, with each story remaining relatively independent.

Author: Jessie