Arthur Waley

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Arthur David Waley (born Arthur David Schloss, 19 August 188927 June 1966) was an English Orientalist and sinologist who achieved both popular and scholarly acclaim for his translations of Chinese and Japanese poetry.


  • I would rather be dead.
    • Response when offered the Chair in Chinese at Cambridge, as quoted in Orientalism and the Operatic World (2015) by Nicholas Tarling, p. 78

Monkey (1942)[edit]

  • There was a rock that since the creation of the world had been worked upon by the pure essences of Heaven and the fine savours of Earth, the vigour of sunshine and the grace of moonlight, till at last it became magically pregnant and one day split open, giving birth to a stone egg, about as big as a playing ball. Fructified by the wind it developed into a stone monkey, complete with every organ and limb.
    • Ch. 1 (p. 11)
  • 'Master, we can start now; I have killed them all.'
    'I am very sorry to hear it,' said Tripitaka. 'One has no right to kill robbers, however violent and wicked they may be. The most one may do is to bring them before a magistrate. It would have been quite enough in this case if you had driven them away. Why kill them? You have behaved with a cruelty that ill becomes one of your sacred calling.'
    'If I had not killed them,' said Monkey, 'they would have killed you.'
    'A priest,' said Tripitaka, 'should be ready to die rather than commit acts of violence.'
    • Ch. 14 (p. 132)
  • A team of horses cannot overtake a word that has left the mouth.
    • Ch. 27 (p. 266)
  • Tripitaka stepped lightly ashore. He had discarded his earthly body; he was cleansed from the corruption of the senses, from the fleshly inheritance of those bygone years. His was now the transcendent wisdom that leads to the Further Shore, the mastery that knows no bounds.
    • Ch. 28 (p. 282)

Quotes about Waley[edit]

  • The translator who can be accurate and yet idiomatic is both craftsman and artist. [...] Such a one is Arthur Waley, translator of exquisite Chinese poetry and of the monumental Japanese novel by Lady Murasaki. Translator Waley learned both Japanese and the still more difficult Chinese from native teachers in London. He has never been east of Suez, and yet he is a recognized authority on literature and art of the Far East. By profession Assistant in the Oriental Section of the British Museum Print Room, his favorite diversion is the poetry of Chinese Po Chu-i.
    • TIME, August 27, 1928

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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