Book Review: Monkey [Part 1]

Monkey, also known as Journey to the West 西游记 or Sun Wukong 孫悟空, was written in 1592 by Wu Cheng’en. It is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Most Chinese people know the story because it became enormously popular through its television adaptations and plays. It influenced some of the earliest Chinese and Japanese animation. It also influenced many series like Dragon Ball. 

I’m reading an English translation by Arthur Waley. Waley only translated 30 chapters out of 100 episodes. However, it’s still one of the best English translations out there. He omitted most of the poetry. If you like poetry, hopefully you can find a version that includes it. There is poetry in this one, but very little of it. 

Page count: 350

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Synopsis: Monkey is “born” and becomes the Monkey King. He then trains under a Master and learns the secrets of immortality. Monkey then becomes very cocky in his abilities and creates havoc in Heaven. He challenges Buddha and loses terribly.

The above synopsis is only on the first part of the book. I wrote broadly because I didn’t want to spoil too much. The rest of the book will be on the pilgrimage to the West. Monkey travels with Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy to retrieve sacred scriptures and enlighten people about Buddhism. They face many adverse monsters and bodhisattvas along the journey.

I’m writing about the parts in isolation because there’s too much content to cover in the first quarter of the book. I divided the book in my own way: Part 1 ends when Monkey is punished by Buddha, before he begins the pilgrimage. Other people include Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy’s stories into the first part but I think those stories make up its own part.

There are lots of flaws, but it’s understandable because it was published 1592. What I perceive to be “flaws” are:

  • Fights are not detailed at all. For example, “x and y battled z many times and then y fled.” (I’m using my own words here, but that’s the gist of it.)
  • No character descriptions. I know what Kuan-yin looks like because I’ve seen television adaptations and because of my culture, but not everyone has the same experience as me.
  • The epic part of Monkey challenging Buddha is only told in a mere three pages.

I believe that television adaptations do a better job at these. However, nothing can compare to the book in my opinion, because so much happens in every page. No adaptation can possibly cover every single detail, whether it’s showing hundreds of thousands of men fighting against Monkey, or all the events that happen. Expect “ten years passed” thrown around every few pages.

One of the biggest reasons, in my opinion, why this story is so successful is because of Monkey. He is so clever, witty, confident and funny. Although he disturbs Heaven and so many characters, he’s so likable.

I recommend this classical novel to everyone.

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I Won a Book Giveaway!

I feel really lucky sometimes because I won another giveaway, and it’s a great one! In my life I’ve won four giveaways but I used to find many four leaf clovers so maybe that has something to do with it. I actually don’t think there’s a correlation LOL.

The giveaway I won this time was hosted by our fellow blogger friend, Neha, who runs Biblio Nyan, a blog on books, anime, self-care tips, and more. I won their 500 follower giveaway and got a $30 gift card to buy any books of my choosing from Book Depository or Amazon. I got FIVE books from Book Depository!

1. Edogawa Rampo’s Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Jon recommended this book to me a while back so I’m happy that I finally own it! I read one of the short stories called The Human Chair, and it was honestly the most interesting story I’ve read in my life. I might blog about it one day, and write about Junji Ito’s version of it as well.

2. Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination 

I’ve been borrowing my friend’s Poe book for months so I’m happy that I finally own my own copy.

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3. Monkey by Wu Cheng’en

This book is also known as Journey to the West and is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. This story was published in the 16th century and many anime, including Dragon Ball, were loosely based on this story. Some of the earliest Japanese animation were inspired by the Chinese animation of Journey to the West.

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4. Desire by Haruki Murakami 

Haruki Murakami is one of my favourite authors. I’ve read a number of his books. This is a collection of his short stories.

5. Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination

I’m giving this one to a friend.

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I’m honestly surprised by how many books I got. When I found out that I won, I thought that I would get two books so this really exceeded my expectations. The books were delivered in a timely manner and I’m really happy with everything. Thank you so much Neha for everything. ❤

Book Review: No Longer Human

I’m branching out into book reviews now.

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Background information: This book was written by Japanese novelist Osamu Dazai. It’s the second best selling novel in Japan. Dazai committed suicide shortly after the book was published in 1948.

The book is divided into three notebooks: childhood, high school and university, and adulthood. Yozo never thought of himself as a human. The book is about his life, and a lot of miserable events happen to him. Yozo never truly felt happiness.

I became interested in No Longer Human because a lot of people said that it was “depressing” to read. However, I never felt sad while reading it. The book is in first person and I understand why Yozo did the things that he did. I don’t think Yozo did anything wrong and never felt frustrated with his actions either. Instead, the book made me feel very calm. I never felt angry or any other strong emotion. A friend of mine stopped reading the book halfway because it became depressing to read. I had a different experience because the writing compelled me to finish the book. Even though my heartstrings were not tugged or pulled, I was interested in reading the story to the end.  I was about to finish the book without having formed an emotional attachment to it until I read the last page of the third notebook.

I was shocked. There are three sentences on the last page, and I could not believe it. The last page of the third notebook changed my view of the book completely. The writing is phenomenal! I do recommend this book.

Fair warning: It may be triggering for some people because there is suicide, death, rape, and self-sabotaging behaviour.

Books! Books!

This is an older photo from a few weeks ago.

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I am going to try to make an active effort to check everyone’s blog posts more. Feel free to link blog posts that you would like me to read. 🙂

 

I’ve read well over 500 manga books, but I’m getting back into reading novels. I like to buy novels rather than borrow from the library because I don’t like being pressured under time to return them. The books and authors I like, or am interested in are:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (completed in high school)

– Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories (I’ve read “The Black Cat” and “The Cask of Amontillado”)

– Haruki Murakami (I’ve read Pinball, 1973; A Wild Sheep Chase; South of the Border, West of the Sun; Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche; The Strange Library)

1984 by George Orwell (completed in high school)

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (completed in high school)

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (completed)

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo (want to buy)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (currently reading)

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai (planning to buy)

Walden Two by B.F. Skinner (I own it, but I’ve placed it on hold)

Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edogawa Rampo (planning to buy)

Monkey by Wu Ch’Eng-En, translation by Arthur Waley (planning to buy)

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (planning to read)

If you’ve read The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, No Longer Human or Monkey, please let me know your thoughts! The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is 940 pages, which seems like a daunting task for me because I’m used to reading comics… Lol…

 

“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.” – Oscar Wilde

Manga vs. Light Novel

This will be a very, very simple guide. I’ll be comparing Pita Ten Volume 1 manga with Pita Ten Volume 1 light novel through pictures.

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Light novel on the left, manga on the right

– size of light novel is smaller

– different author. This light novel story is different from the manga

– since this is a text that has been translated into English, it reads left to right. In Japan, it would be right to left

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Manga

– despite being already translated, manga still reads from right to left

– Japanese comics

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Light novel

– Words, with an anime drawing every now and then

I hope this was a little useful! ^^

Photos from earlier

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I use stickies to mark my page instead of paper bookmarks. I don’t like to hold onto bookmarks and they always seem to fall out of the book. Another advantage of this is that you can put it beside the paragraph or line you left off.

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I got the Shio Ramen at Danbo in Vancouver, BC.

Housekeeping stuff 

I’m working on a digital drawing so it will be up within the next couple of days.

Upcoming cosplays

  • Monkey D. Luffy
  • L Lawliet
  • Sakura Kinomoto (w/ wig)
  • Haruhi Suzumiya (w/ wig)
  • Mikasa Ackerman
  • Ken Kaneki (closet cos)
  • Shizuo Heiwajima
  • Tenma Tsukamoto (w/ skirt)

Help: Which book should I read first?

 

  • Walden Two – B.F. Skinner ($2 at book sale on university campus)
  • Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson ($3 at thrift store)

 

I try to avoid thrift stores because they make me sneeze a lot. I think I’m allergic to dust but if it means getting $2 books, then I’m willing to go.

I read manga everyday. Manga are Japanese comics and they are the book version of anime. You read in the opposite direction. Even though I like manga more, I still like novels.

I like books on psychology, mystery and books with villains. I read books that were written a long time ago. Walden Two was published in 1948. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was first published in 1886. The only more modern books I like are by Haruki Murakami. He is a Japanese author and I read his books that have been translated in English.

Let me know in the comments which book I should read first!