1 - ORALITY AND LITERACY IN FRANKISH SOCIETY  pp. 9-26

ORALITY AND LITERACY IN FRANKISH SOCIETY

By Alice Rio

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Dexterous Ghost handed over the gourd and Skilful Beast produced the vase. When they gave them both to Monkey he gave them his imitation gourd. The exchange had now been made, but Monkey wanted it to be final, so he plucked a hair from under his navel, blew a magic breath on it, and turned it into a copper coin. ‘Boys,’ he said, ‘take this coin and buy a sheet of paper.’ ‘Why?’ they asked. ‘We'll write a legal contract for the exchange of your two man-holding treasures for my sky-holder,’ said Monkey. ‘We each need a written agreement to prevent later regrets with the passage of time.’ ‘But there's no brush or ink here to write a contract with,’ said the two little devils. ‘Let's swear an oath instead.’ ‘What sort of oath?’ asked Monkey. ‘We exchange our two man-holding treasures for your sky-holder,’ said the devils, ‘and if we ever have any regrets may we be struck by pestilence in all four seasons.’ ‘I certainly won't have any regrets,’ chuckled Monkey. ‘If I do, may I too be struck with pestilence in all four seasons.’ Having sworn this oath he leapt up, his tail in the air.

Wu Cheng'en, Journey to the West (tr. W.J.F. Jenner), ch. 33