The real, historical monk Hsuan Tsang actually walked on foot from China to India, and then throughout the Indian subcontinent. The distance, scholars believe, is like walking from Maine to California, only you'd have to cross an enormous desert and the Himalayan Mountains, home to Mt. Everest (and much taller than the Rocky Mountains). The land at Hsuan Tsang's time was mostly unmapped, and early listeners to the stories that would make up Journey to the West might well have believed there were monsters, dragons, and demons lurking there.
|602/3||Hsuan Tsang is born.
|664||Hsuan Tsang dies.
Buddhism goes underground, its teachings partly adopted by Confucianism and Taoism.
|1500||Scholar and writer Wu Ch'eng-en is born.
Wu publicly conforms to literary expectations, writing stories that imitate Han literature.
|1580||Wu Ch'eng-en dies.
|1592||Journey to the West is published anonymously; it is most likely the work of Wu Ch'eng-en.
|1625||A local history of Huai-an, Wu's home region, cites him as the author of Monkey.
(Zen) Buddhism is once again the official religion of the Chinese court.
|1889||Arthur Waley is born in England.
|1942||Waley's translation of Monkey is published.
China has the largest Buddhist population in the world, and the religion is tacitly supported by the Communist government.