The narrative richness of the Chinese Ming (1368–1644) novel known as the Hsi-yu chi, or The Journey to the West, presents a daunting challenge to the interpreter. The bewildering array of cultural lore—especially from the three major religious traditions of China (Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism)—is so diverse and boldly interwoven that it almost appears as “simply furniture thrown in to impress, or mock, the reader” (Plaks 1977:181). Thus any interpretation faces the danger of exaggerating the importance of these cultural and religious elements, only to discover that the author offered them in jest.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.