The Web of Signification in Journey to the West


Journey to the West, one of the ancient Chinese classics, is an imaginative narration of the historical event of the buddhist monk Xuanzang embarking on an arduous journey to India for Buddhist scriptures in Tang dynasty (618-907 AD). While advocating mainly Buddhist beliefs, such as the concept of karma, as conventionally understood, the novel also emcompasses Taoism and Confucianism. With such an intellectual backdrop, two major signifiers—Xuanzang the pursuer and the Buddhist scriptures, one personified and one linguistic—signify differently to various social and religious communities -- the buddhists, the ruling emperor, the pagan devils, and the ordinary mass. A closer reading reveals a web of signification within the novel, which imperceptibly deconstructs each transcendental signified above and behind claimed by each community .

Author Information
Yikun Li, North China Electric Power University, China

Paper Information
Conference: ECAH2015
Stream: Humanities - Literature/Literary Studies*

This paper is part of the ECAH2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon