Yang Jie, director of the TV series Journey to the West, passed away on April 15 at the age of 88 years, triggering nostalgia, especially among those born in the 1970s and 1980s. Yang's series was adapted from Wu Cheng'en's novel of the same name. Written in the 16th century, the Chinese classic chronicles the legendary pilgrimage of a Buddhist monk, Tang Sanzan, and his four disciples: a monkey (Sun Wukong), also known as the Monkey King, a pig (Zhu Bajie), a former court official (Sha Wujing) and a dragon prince (Bailong) who can transform into a horse.
Yang's adaptation of the historical fantasy was probably the most viewed TV series in China. But its success should also be credited to the appeal of the Chinese classic itself. Like the Odyssey, Journey to the West is a hero's quest, which teaches us about life in a way that is accessible and entertaining. We have not got enough mileage out of the novel considering its cultural heritage. May be one day someone will write a story based on the plot of Journey to the West.
Just like European psychologists found inspiration from stories of Oedipus and Hamlet, Chinese scholars can still Journey to the West as a prototype for various social studies, including the study of group dynamics and personality types.