WALEY, Arthur (trans.), & Wu Ch'êng-ên.


New York: The John Day Company, 1943 Stock Code: 149384
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Written and inscribed by an associate of the Bloomsbury group and the Bright Young Things

First American edition, first printing, inscribed by the author and signed by the dedicatee together on the front free endpaper: "Ethel Driver, from Arthur Waley, and Beryl, Xmas 1944." Perhaps the most important translator of Chinese and Japanese literature into English in the 20th century, Waley was closely connected with the Bloomsbury group and the Bright Young Things, and he "was responsible for changing substantially the views of Virginia Woolf toward oriental literature" (Henig, p. 76).

Arthur Waley (18891966) continues to be regarded as one of the most skilled and accomplished translators of Chinese and Japanese literature, poetry and philosophy, an achievement the more remarkable considering that he never received any formal linguistic instruction in either language. Keen to avoid too technical a style, Waley "sought to make his translations works of art, aiming at literature rather than philology" (ODNB). His rendering of the Chinese literary classic Journey to the West was first published under the title Monkey in London in 1942 by his admirer Stanley Unwin, with the present edition following a year later in the United States. The work received the endorsement of the famous Chinese literatus Hu Shi, whose preface to the American edition lauded Waley's "truly masterful" interpretation of the text. Extremely popular, Monkey went through many subsequent impressions and it remains in print. Ethel Driver, the object of this copy's inscription, was the long-time dance mentor of his partner Beryl de Zoete, the latter a prominent dance expert and a translator of Italian literature, notably Italo Svevo's Coscienza de Zeno. De Zoete was the co-dedicatee for both the American and English editions of Monkey.

During his lifetime, Waley was associated with the Bloomsbury group and is widely credited for opening up Viriginia Woolf's eyes to the possibilities of Asian literature. Her review of Waley's translation of the Tale of Genji for Vogue in 1925 marks the first time she could recognise "how the differences between Japanese and Anglo cultures did not make the Anglo superior" (76). As a result, several years later, Woolf acknowledged her literary debts to Waley in the preface to Orlando (1928). Waley was also on good terms with the Stracheys, Keyneses, and with Roger Fry, having known them all while at Cambridge, and Duncan Grant drew the title page illustration for the English edition of Monkey.

Along with Beryl de Zoete, Waley also dedicated the present work to "Harold," a reference to Harold Acton, a sometime translator of Chinese poetry and a member of the Bright Young Things. Beryl de Zoete often stayed at the house of Stephen Tennant alongside Siegfried Sassoon and Rex Whistler, and Acton wrote several letters to Waley praising his Chinese translations including Monkey.

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Octavo. Original blue cloth, gilt title to spine, vignette to front in gilt.


Vignette to the title page.


Spine faded, couple of marks to rear cover, head and foot of boards dampstained, partially extending to book block, text unaffected, a little foxing to edges and endpapers, contents otherwise clean, still a sound copy.


Suzanne Henig, "The Bloomsbury Group and Non-Western Literature". Journal of South Asian Literature, vol. 10., no. 1 (1974), pp. 73-82.


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