In Chinese literature, four works are considered the Four Great Classical Novels. Unfortunately, they are almost unknown to Westerners, and—with the exception of Dream of the Red Chamber—it is hard to find them in translation.
But now we have computers! The Chinese texts are on line, and Google Translate us up to the task. For a peek at what we’ve been missing, here is the beginning of the second chapter of Journey to the West (traditionally attributed to Wu Cheng’en), as translated for us by Google:
Satoru Tooru second time off the magic Bodhi really Miaoli owned by the co-soul
Monkey King got word table names, contend enthusiastically, before the ceremony to Bodhi Kai Xie. That Patriarch ordered that the public cited Monkey out two door sweep teach him to deal with, deal with the advance and retreat section. Immortal pursue out. Wukong to the door, and thanks to the public brother, sleep at the arrangements between the Gallery veranda. The next morning, and all the brothers learn verbal politeness, preaching on the road, copybooks incense. Daily true. That sweeping leisure garden hoe, gardening repair tree, lights the fire and look for firewood, pick waterway pulp. Where things used, and both equipment. Six or seven years in the cave feel prosperous.
Day, founder Gordon Gaozuo altar, Zhu Xian call set, lecture Avenue. So it’s: hype, Musella lasiocarpa. Three times wonderful play to teach, subtle methodology whole. Slow roll stag tail jet bead, move the ringing thunder nine days. Said a Club Road, talk for a while Zen, three with this as natural. Gui Cheng enlightened word processor, no guidelines had sex mysterious.
Magic! Sex! Gardening! Typing! Now, with the aid of almost supernaturally intelligent machine translation, we can see why this is one of the Four Great Classical Novels in Chinese literature. It’s got Finnegans Wake beat all hollow.