Transforming Monkey

Adaptation and Representation of a Chinese Epic

Hongmei Sun

  • Published: April 2018
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Literary Studies; Asian American Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 232 pp., 26 bandw illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Able to shape-shift and ride the clouds, wielding a magic cudgel and playing tricks, Sun Wukong (aka Monkey or the Monkey King) first attained superstar status as the protagonist of the sixteenth-century novel Journey to the West (Xiyou ji) and lives on in literature and popular culture internationally. In this far-ranging study Hongmei Sun discusses the thousand-year evolution of this figure in imperial China and multimedia adaptations in Republican, Maoist, and post-socialist China and the United States, including the film Princess Iron Fan (1941), Maoist revolutionary operas, online creative writings influenced by Hong Kong film A Chinese Odyssey (1995), and Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel American Born Chinese.

At the intersection of Chinese studies, Asian American studies, film studies, and translation and adaptation studies, Transforming Monkey provides a renewed understanding of the Monkey King character as a rebel and trickster, and demonstrates his impact on the Chinese self-conception of national identity as he travels through time and across borders.
Hongmei Sun is assistant professor of modern and classical languages at George Mason University.

"The first monograph in English to focus entirely on adaptations of the Journey to the West narrative. Its analysis is quite compelling."
-Carlos Rojas, coeditor of Ghost Protocol: Development and Displacement in Global China

"Fun, sophisticated, insightful, Hongmei Sun's exploration of contemporary lives of the Monkey King takes us on a journey across multiple borders, ultimately to a place within ourselves, where the multivalent primate lurks."
-Carma Hinton, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Visual Culture and Chinese Studie, George Mason University

"A brilliant and entertaining revisioning of Sun Wukong. Transforming Monkey will be of use to readers interested in the performance of traditional literature, the formation of modern Chinese culture and media, and, simply to fans of Monkey."
-Andrew Schonebaum, author of Novel Medicine: Healing, Literature, and Popular Knowledge in Early Modern China

"Travelling across vast time and space, Sun's book is as filled with transformation as its subject matter, the legendary Monkey King-shape-shifter, trickster, rebel, and demigod."
-Ning Ma, author of The Age of Silver: The Rise of the Novel East and West