Wu Cheng’en (Wu Ch’eng-en) ?1504-?1582
Ming-dynasty fiction writer and poet from present day Jiangsu province. His father was a merchant, but liked to read; he passed this interest on to his son who was known early in life for his literary leanings. Nevertheless, Wu repeatedly failed the civil service exams. He was 63 years old when he was appointed to the post of Vice Magistrate in Changxing county, but after only two years was thrown into prison on a trumped-up charge of corruption. The details of the case were eventually brought to light and Wu was offered another position but did not take it up. Wu’s poetry focused on the expression of emotions, and for this reason his work has been compared to that of Li Bai. He is best known for the novel Xiyou ji [The journey to the West], famous for its depiction of the antics of the Monkey King, Sun Wukong. Some scholars have disputed Wu Chengen’s authorship of the Xiyou ji but the evidence is not conclusive.
Works available in English:
Excerpts from Three Classical Chinese Novels (Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys
Yang). Beijing: Chinese Literature, 1981.
Journey to the West (Anthony C. Yu). Chicago: University of Chicago,
Journey to the West (W.J.F. Jenner). Beijing: Foreign Languages Press,
1982-1986; Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 1994.
Monkey (Arthur Waley). London: George Allen & Unwin, 1942; London: Readers
Union, 1944; New York: John Day Co., 1944; New York: Grove Press, 1958;
Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961; London: Folio Society, 1968.
The Journey to the West (Tan Lihai). Taipei: Hilit Pub. Co.; Beijing: Prospect
Pub. House, 1990.
The Monkey King (George Theiner). London: P. Hamlyn, 1964.