Zhang Guangyu’s Manhua Journey to the West (1945) – Part 4 of 66 min read

Zhang Guangyu’s 張光宇 (1900-1965) overlooked masterpiece, Manhua Journey to the West 西遊漫記 was originally created in the fall of 1945 while Zhang was living in the wartime capital of Chongqing. Deeply critical of the ruling KMT government, it was eventually banned and did not see print for another 13 years. For the sake of introducing Zhang’s out-of-print work to a larger audience, I’ve taken the liberty of translating the entire 60 page comic into English and will be posting it in installments on my blog over the next several weeks.

In part 4 of this 6 part translation, Monkey narrowly avoids a full-body haircut only to land on the giant Peach of Immortality, where he finds himself surrounded by dancing immortals and fairies. Monkey concludes that he has somehow arrived back at the Southern Heavenly Gates. Princess Iron Fan appears in the middle of the festivities and asks Monkey to dance and rather surprisingly, given his characteristic lack of interest in the opposite sex in the original novel, he agrees. After their dance, Princess Iron Fan leads Monkey into the garden to “whisper sweet nothings among the grapevines.” Just when things are starting to heat up though, an unpleasant surprise soon cools Monkey’s ardor…

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31.   悟空从那美女剪刀下挣扎脱身,踉踉跄跄逃出门外,回头一看见有“美发宫”三个字写着,他方[才?]明白道:“老孙的毫毛根根都有用处,如果把他剃净岂不难看,而且 世界哪有光皮猴孙,幸亏老孙机警逃得出来,否则就大上其当了!”说着他倒反而得意起来,反背着手洋洋地沿走廊踱过去,忽然脚底下的地板自己转动起来,一霎 时像旋转乾坤般的转得孙猴儿头昏眼花,手足无措,翻了不知多少筋斗。

Sun Wukong wrestled free from the woman with the scissors, stumbling and staggering out of the door, he looked back to see the words, “Palace Hairdressers,” leading him to say, “Every hair of Sun Wukong’s downy fur has its use, if you shaved me bare, wouldn’t I look terrible? Besides, who’s ever heard of a hairless monkey? Good thing that the vigilant Sun managed to escape, otherwise I would have fallen into her trap!” Having said this, he began to feel full of himself, strolling down the corridor with his hands clasped behind him, smiling contentedly, when suddenly the floor beneath his feet swiveled and with a whoosh! Sun Wukong spun around like a yin yang sign, leaving him dizzy with blurred vision. He was completely helpless, somersaulting into the void who knows how many times.


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32. 转动渐渐的和缓下来,悟空耳朵边听得音乐幽扬,觉得身子又滑进一个地方,又听见拍手喝彩的声音:“好一个偷桃的猴子来了!”睁眼一看原来置身在一只大蟠桃 上,四面环绕着诸天大罗神仙,上面端坐着西王母仙驾,恍然悟到:“怎么又会来到南天门咧?”一下子一列彩衣仙女围着蟠桃又跳起舞来。

The spinning gradually lessened, and Wukong began to hear the wafting melodies of music. He perceived that he had arrived in a new place, hearing the sound of applause: “A peach stealing monkey has arrived!” Wukong opened his eyes to discover that he was lying on top of a peach of immortality, surrounded from four sides by gargantuan Daoist immortals, headed by the Queen Mother of the West. Suddenly becoming aware of where he was, Wukong said to himself, “How come I’m back at the Southern Heavenly Gates again?” In a flash, a row of fairy maidens in colorful gowns surrounded the peach of immortality and began to dance.


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33.  彩衣仙女舞罢,又是一阵掌声,音乐转换调子,众仙翁仙姑都一对对拥抱着作蝴蝶仙舞,其间

When the fairy maidens had finished dancing, there was another burst of applause, and tune changed, and each of the elderly immortals was paired with a female immortal, pressing close together and doing the Butterfly Dance of the Immortals. Among them, the immortal of the South Pole and the fairy maiden He were particularly splendid dancers.

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34.    Just when Sun Wukong thought he had nowhere to go, suddenly Princess Iron Fan stepped up onto the stage to ask the monkey Sun to dance with her. Sun Wukong said, “How come a monster like you is being so nice?” Princess Iron Fan said, “That’s all in the past, there’s no need remember such things! Come on! Come on!” Not wanting to seem impolite, the monkey Sun agreed to dance with her. He was surprised to discover she was an excellent dancing partner, with a slender and supple waist, like a poplar or willow, and soft, vulpine steps.


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35. 舞罢,众仙都作对儿归还原座饮酒称觖[爵?],只是大圣与铁扇公主没有座位,便挽手走到仙园,葡萄藤中,谈情说爱去了。

When they had finished dancing, the assembled immortals returned to their seats to drink wine and lift their flagons. Only the Great Sage Sun and Princess Iron Fan were without seats, so they walked hand in hand into the Garden of the Immortals, where they whispered sweet nothings among the grapevines.


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36. 正谈得兴浓处,绿阴中钻出汉钟离, 弥勒佛,地藏菩萨三位大仙哈哈大笑道:“打扰!打扰!”一下便把头颅用手搬下来,却现出三藏八戒沙和尚三位面具,悟空大惊, 原来他们戴的都是假面具,再瞧瞧铁扇公主也除下面具,原来是市长本人化装与他作耍,悟空问道:“这是什么意思?”大家齐声答道:“这是“化装跳舞大会”!”。

Just when things were starting to heat up, the three great immortals Zhongli of Han, the Maitreya Buddha, and the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva appeared laughing heartily and said, “Sorry to interrupt! Sorry to interrupt!” In a flash, they lifted their heads to reveal the faces of Tripitaka, Zhu Bajie, and Brother Sand. Sun Wukong was shocked to discover that they had all been wearing masks. Looking back at Princess Iron Fan, he discovered that her mask had also begun to slip off, revealing that it had been the mayor himself all along, dressed up and playing a prank on Sun Wukong. Wukong asked them, “What is the meaning of all this?” In unison they all replied, “This is the ‘Masquerade Ball’!”


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37.  话说梦得快乐市长自从设下“蹯桃跳舞大会”一举,深得三藏师徒们的欢心,尤其朱八戒最为高兴,他声言等待回东土时,一定建议国王,多造几座“阿房宫”,得 提倡提倡上层娱乐。市长市颇得意,为进一步招待嘉宾起见,特于宫中建设剧场,又因为要奉承孙悟空,特题名为齐天舞台邀请名角
排演新剧“水廉洞”,市长亲自 登台揭幕并至开幕词。

It is said that when the mayor of the City of Pleasant Dreams first proposed the ‘Masquerade Ball,’ Tripitaka’s disciples were incredibly pleased, especially Zhu Bajie, who said once they had returned to China, they should make a suggestion to emperor to build a couple ‘Epang Palaces’ to promote entertainment for upper classes. The mayor was rather pleased with himself, and so for the sake of entertaining his guests even further, he had a theatre built in the palace. To flatter Sun Wukong, he recruited famous actors to come to the Stage Equal of Heaven to rehearse “Water Curtain Cave” and the mayor himself gave an opening speech and unveiled the new play.


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38. 正剧未登场先演歌舞短剧“金钱豹”,果然武艺高超,勇猛纯熟,连孙大圣自己看了也叫好不绝。

Before the main performance began, a short play, “Leopard” was performed. As expected, the actors were excellent martial artists, skilled and valiant, so that even the Great Sage Sun Wukong himself shouted praise without end.
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39. 惟幕拉开“水廉洞”演出了,台上的表演,是齐天大圣训练众猴子道:“你们这些小猴子听了,如今奉我为花果山大王,大王便是父们的家长,家长的说话,你们都 要听从,原来我们猴子的心思最

But when the curtains opened on “Water Curtain Cave,” the actors on the stage, the assembled monkeys were scolded by the Great Sage, who said, “Listen close little monkeys, you are paying tribute to me as king of the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit, and the king is the patriarch of the family. You have to do whatever the patriarch says. The mental state of monkeys is renowned for being nimble, and their thoughts are also rather messy. What I’ve come here today to teach you is called, ‘See no impropriety, hear no impropriety, speak no impropriety,’ this is my ‘Doctrine of the Three Don’ts’.”
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40. 孙悟空看到这里,勃然大怒,一筋斗跳上舞台,把那假大圣一顿拳脚打得半死,骇得众小猴抱头四窜,悟空当众宣布说:“这个剧情完全歪曲侮辱我当年花果山的理想!”声明由他重新排演,亲自拿台,挽回圣[声?]名,而昭事实,当下观众听了,个个鼓掌称赞。

When Sun Wukong saw this he was enraged, and so he somersaulted up onto the stage, and raining fists and feet down upon the false Great Sage, beat him nearly half to death. The little monkeys were so startled that they scattered in every direction, their heads in their hands. Sun Wukong announced that, “This play totally distorts and insults the ideals I held dear back then on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit.” Whereupon he ordered them to redo the play, with Sun himself onstage, in order to redeem his reputation, and show the true situation. Upon hearing this, the audience all clapped and shouted their praise.


Nick Stember
Nick Stember is a translator and historian of Chinese comics and science fiction, currently working on his PhD in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. In 2016 he completed his Master of Arts in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia with his (very readable and not at all obscure) thesis on the formation of the Shanghai Manhua Society in the mid-1920s.

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