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Book Club: Journey to the West (xi you ji)
 
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Journey to the West (Hsi Yu Chi) is a classic of Chinese literature, and perhaps the most well-known classic amongst the younger generation. It was published anonymously in the 1590s, and no direct evidence of its authorship survives, but it is traditionally ascribed to the scholar Wu Cheng'en. The novel tells a fictionalized and mythologized version of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang's pilgrimage to India to fetch religious texts.

In the novel, the monk Xuanzang is called by the Bodhisattva Guan Yin to travel to India to obtain copies of certain important Buddhist Sutras that are not available in China. He is accompanied on his journey by three disciples - the monkey king Sun Wukong, the pig-monster Zhu Wuneng and the half water demon Sha Wujing - all of whom have agreed to help him along the way as an atonement for past sins. His horse that Xuanzang rides is itself a dragon prince.

Some scholars propose that the book is a work of satire on the effeteness of the Chinese government at the time. As a work of literature, it is of the highest quality, known as one of the four greatest works of Chinese literature (others are: Dream of the Red Chamber, Water Margin, and Romance of Three Kingdoms). Journey to the West, evident throughout the novel, has a strong background in Chinese folk religion, Chinese mythology, religion, and value systems.

One of the supernatural helpers, the monkey king Sun Wukong, has become one of the most famous and beloved characters in Chinese literature. His recognition factor and popularity in Asia have been compared to those of Mickey Mouse in Western countries (although, considering his personality, Bugs Bunny might be a better comparison).

Part of the novel's enduring popularity comes from the fact that it works on multiple levels: it is an adventure story, a dispenser of spiritual insight, and an extended metaphor in which the group of pilgrims journeying toward India stands for the individual journeying toward enlightenment.

About CCC Book Club:

The CCC Book Club is one of the earlist book clubs targeting expariates living in Beijing and the only book meeting groups focusing on China-related books for the international community.

At the CCC' s Book Club, participants are assigned a great book to read (or selected chapters) and then asked to discuss its meanings with other book club members, using their own interpretations. All assigned books (mostly China-related fiction and non-fiction, a mix of classics and modern ones in English or with English translation) are available at CCC library and bookshop or at major foreign-language book stores where participants are encouraged to purchase their own copies. You are also welcome even though you may not have read a single page of the book yet. Just join our discussion!

Booklist:  Click here to view the whole booklist of the past meetings.

CCC Book Club day group:
10:30 am, every third Wednesday of the month.

CCC Book Club Evening Group:
7:30 pm, every third Thursday of the month

Note: sometimes the date is different because of holidays. So check the monthly calendar for the most up to date info during the month.

Venue: China Culture Center, Beijing, China.

 
   
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