Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: August 14 – September 30, 2015
As a small child, Anthony Yu first learned from his grandfather the story of a wise monk who travels from China to India with his companions, Monkey and Pig. The stories came from the classical Chinese epic The Journey to the West. Yu was fascinated with the epic from then on. As an adult, he embarked on a scholarly journey in the field of comparative religions and literatures, bridging the Eastern and Western literary religious traditions. This one-case, memorial exhibit is centered on Professor Anthony C. Yu’s magnum opus, his four volume translation of The Journey to the West into English.
Anthony C. Yu (1938-2015) was the Carl Darling Buck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. Margaret M. Mitchell, former dean of the Divinity School, eulogized Professor Yu as “an outstanding scholar, whose work was marked by uncommon erudition, range of reference and interpretive sophistication.” Yet he was also “a person of inimitable elegance, dignity, passion and the highest standards for everything he did.”
Professor’s Yu own life journey (1938-2015) resonates in many ways with the Chinese epic that he translated. Journeying to the West to pursue his vocation, Professor Yu spent 16 years of his life, just like the traveling monk from the story, working on the 1800+ pages of the English translation. David Lattimore (Brown University), writing in The New York Times Book Review, noted that Professor Yu’s translation “does full justice to the adventure, lyricism and buffoonery of The Journey to the West,” while remaining “completely sensitive to the spiritual content of the text, as well.” Not only was The Journey to the West the first unabridged translation into English, but it withstood the test of time and is now considered the definitive translation.
The exhibit itself is set up to invite search and discovery. You will encounter prior translations of the classical Chinese epic, together with Yu’s own definitive translation, an abridged edition and even some surprises related to the afterlife of Yu’s translation. Please stop by Regenstein Library’s 4th floor and discover for yourself the fascinating journey to the West, facilitated by our eminent scholar, beloved professor, and magnificent translator. Your journey will be worth it!