A core Course of General Education An outline of the Traditional Chinese Culture 中国传统文化概览 Shandong University Contents

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Journey to the West

Journey to the West was completed in the mid-Ming Dynasty by Wu Cheng’en, styled Hermit of Sheyang and a native of Shanyang of Huaian (now Huaian County of Jiangsu Province). Like Three Kingdoms and Outlaws of the Marsh that preceded it, Journey to the West is an important work that is based on the folk oral literature which was embellished by the writer. It is generally recognized as a masterpiece about deities and ghosts. Through the depiction of the pilgrimage journey of Tang Seng and his disciples, the book tells how they went through the 81 adversities on their journey, each of which forms a relatively self-contained story yet still centers on the theme. The novel highly praises the unyielding fighting spirit of Sun Wukong in his pursuit for immortality and reflects the long-cherished great expectations and ambitions of human beings. As far as artistic expression is concerned, the most striking features of the book are its eerie imagination and bald exaggeration by which the writer created a grotesque, gaudy, fanciful and magical world which broke the boundary between time and space, life and death, humans and deities. The book is thus permeated with an intense romantic flavor. In his characterization of such characters as Sun Wukong and Zhu Bajie, the writer combines harmoniously the humanity they embody with the divinity and animality they incarnate, thus endowing each of them with distinctive individuality. The book provides the reader with a varied and colorful art gallery of deities and ghosts. Even to this day, their images remain familiar to every household and to both the old and the young. The book is filled with witty and humorous remarks and displays a strong comic flavor because of the writer’s skillful use of satire, together with a large amount of playful language. In a word, Journey to the West opens up a new horizon of romanticism in the history of Chinese fiction. As soon as it came out, simulated creations have kept appearing. In addition, Journey to the West has been introduced to many foreign countries and has been enjoyed by overseas readers. It is a bright gem in the world literary treasure.

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