Monkey - MP3 Edition

MP3 Audio Book: This disc can be played on your computer and can be transferred to your MP3 player or iPOD. It will NOT play on a standard CD player, although most DVD players, newer CD players, and in-car CD players have the ability to play MP3 discs.

From the 13th century onwards these legends have been constantly represented on the Chinese stage. Wu Ch’êng-ên had therefore a great deal to build on when he wrote his long fairy tale. The original book is indeed of immense length, and is usually read in abridged forms. The method adopted in these abridgements is to leave the original number of separate episodes, but drastically reduce them in length, particularly by cutting out dialogue. I have for the most part adopted the opposite principle, omitting many episodes, but translating those that are retained almost in full, leaving out, however, most of the incidental passages in verse, which go very badly into English. Monkey is unique in its combination of beauty with absurdity, of profundity with nonsense. Folk-lore, allegory, religion, history, anti-bureaucratic satires and pure poetry - such are the singularly diverse elements out of which the book is compounded ...

From the Introduction to Arthur Waley’s translation.



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Catalogue Number

Chapter 1 The rise of Monkey 24:07

Chapter 2 The Patriarch Subodhi 35:17

Chapter 3 A Heavenly summons 31:49

Chapter 4 ‘Great Sage, equal of Heaven’ 24:44

Chapter 5 Heaven declares war 25:38

Chapter 6 Defeat of the Earthly armies 26:19

Chapter 7 Downfall of the ‘Great Sage’ 15:50

Chapter 8 The Scripture Quest 21:16

Chapter 9 Hsüan Tsang 30:24

Chapter 10 Death of Emperor T’ang 21:03

Chapter 11 Emperor T’ang returns to life 16:19

Chapter 12 Tripitaka accepts the Quest 26:17

Chapter 13 ‘Mountain of the Two Frontiers’ 18:43

Chapter 14 Tripitaka recruits Monkey 32:40

Chapter 15 A new horse for Tripitaka 20:28

Chapter 16 The pilgrims encounter Pigsy 18:59

Chapter 17 Pigsy joins the quest 16:02

Chapter 18 The enlisting of Sandy 17:32

Chapter 19 Trouble in Crow-cock 41:30

Chapter 20 A coup is planned 40:33

Chapter 21 The impostor is revealed 40:56

Chapter 22 A Taoist kingdom is reached 39:13

Chapter 23 Monkey duels the immortals 28:19

Chapter 24 The immortals meet their end 39:45

Chapter 25 Mr Ch’ên’s farm 36:52

Chapter 26 Tripitaka is captured 27:00

Chapter 27 The disciples rescue Tripitaka 26:28

Chapter 28 The scriptures obtained 31:51

Chapter 29 The last calamity 19:42

Chapter 30 The quest is fulfilled 24:14

Total playing time : 14 hours


Monkey is an epic allegorical tale by the sixteenth century poet Wu Ch’eng-En. It is about the adventures of a monkey who has been magically awakened from an egg born to a rock impregnated by the elements. After building up his own kingdom, Monkey goes off to learn and develop supernatural powers. Being offered a job in heaven, he then causes trouble with his unruly and selfish behavior, and flees his due punishment. Although, for a while, he defeats the forces of heaven sent to subdue him, he is eventually overpowered and imprisoned for centuries in a mountain. He is promised release in return for becoming the disciple of, and protecting, Tripitaka, a monk who has been sent to India to collect Buddhist teachings and take them back to China. The remaining two-thirds of the story follow the heroic journey of Tripitaka, along with Monkey and his two fellow-disciples, Pigsy and Sandy. After facing all sorts of monsters, evils and terrible trials, they finally win through and fulfil their difficult and dangerous mission.

This version, on a Nimbus MP3, adapted and translated by Arthur Waley, is read by the wonderful Kenneth Williams. Williams imbues the story, which is an amazing combination of profundity, comedy, satire, deep spirituality and the ridiculous, with his characteristic comic brilliance. He is splendidly flexible, capturing the various moods of the work with deep insight, and creating extremely strong individual characters for each figure in the story. Thus, the earthy Pigsy is brought to life with a slow and stupid voice, Sandy – originally a dragon – with a rather dry, nasal drawl, and the precocious Monkey with a lively, high, cheeky and self-confident air. The accents are, as one might imagine, brilliant – especially the hilarious rustic farm labourers!

The presentation of this single MP3 disc (14 hours long!) could be better, but the content is just superb. A beautiful, uplifting, gripping, amusing tale, narrated with debonair flair by a master story-teller – I doubt anyone could do a better version. Buy it!

Em Marshall,

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