I loved the TV series ‘Monkey’ that was on the ABC during the early 80s. I have found most of the first series on DVD, and just recently found a copy of an English translation of some of the original stories.

Wu Ch’êng-ên was born in Huai-an, Kiangsu, China around 1505, and died in about 1580. He was known at the time as a poet, and is believed to have been a District Magistrate.

He based the fables of Monkey on the life of a buddhist monk, Hsüan-tsang. Living in the 7th Century, Hsüan-tsang was also known as Tripitaka, and there are several contemporary accounts of his journey to India, and by the time of Wu Ch’êng-ên, these had transformed into legend.

The bureaucracy that is in Heaven is a direct reflection of the Chinese government of the time. The stories of Monkey are part satire, part poetry and part allegory. Tripitaka is the everyman, Monkey the genius and Pigsy the appetite. Sandy is said to be the sincerity or whole-heartedness.

The TV series is probably more based on one of the Japanese translations, although if the two (book & series) are from seperate translations, they match well.

The thing I like best are the proverbs - most of them just crack me up. I’ll post a whole heap of them as I come across them.