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Charlestown Resident Publishes English Translation of Ancient Chinese Monk's Tales

July 17, 2014

CATONSVILLE, MD -- Charlestown retirement community resident Janet Shaw has just published the first English translation of 12th Century Chinese Chan Buddhist monk Ji Gong's tales as a promise to her late husband, John, who translated the book.
The book is entitled "Adventures of the Mad Monk Ji Gong." It is published by Tuttle Publishing, which has offices in Vermont, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore.
Janet's  husband John, a former U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant who spoke and read Chinese, came across an obscure book about Ji Gong's tales in 1980 in a Chinese bookstore in Hong Kong, where he was stationed as an Investigator and Interpreter for U.S. Military Police. The book was written in Chinese. He read the book over a year's period.
From 1982 until his death in 2005 John translated this book into English. His translation was 1,100 typewritten pages, double spaced.
John asked Janet to promise him that the story of Ji Gong would find a publisher. Janet for the past four years relentlessly contacted publishers via telephone and correspondence (she does not do email) from her Charlestown apartment home.
Janet, who worked for 25 years as an Intelligence Officer for the CIA,  dealt with three different editor staffing changes at Tuttle - refusing to let the translation of  the Ji Gong book disappear. She actually signed a book contract in September 2011. Since then the book has undergone substantial editing for syntax and word usage consistency and its publication was stalled by the "revolving door" of the editor staffing changes.
The book went to a printer in Singapore in March 2014. It will be available in paperback on August 26. is already taking pre-orders. Janet was given an advance copy of the book this past week. It is the first complete English translation of Ji Gong's tales.
About Ji Gong:
Ji Gong studied at the great Ling Yin monastery, an immense temple that still ranges up the steep hills above Hangzhou, near Shanghai. The Chan (Zen) Buddhist masters of the temple tried to instruct Ji Gong in the spartan practices of their sect, but the young monk, following in the footsteps of other great ne'er-do-wells, distinguished himself mainly by getting expelled. He left the monastery, became a wanderer with hardly a proper piece of clothing to wear, and achieved great renown---in seedy wine shops and drinking establishments.
This could have been where Ji Gong's story ended. But his unorthodox style of Buddhism soon made him a hero for popular storytellers of the Song dynasty era. Audiences delighted in tales where the mad old monk ignored---or even mocked---authority, defied common sense, never neglected the wine, yet still managed to save the day. Ji Gong remains popular in China even today, where he regularly appears as the wise old drunken fool in movies and TV shows. "Adventures of the Mad Monk Ji Gong" tells how he has a rogue's knack for exposing the corrupt and criminal while still pursuing the twin delights of enlightenment and intoxication.