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Main page » Fiction literature » The Tale of Genji

The Tale of Genji


This translation by Edward G. Seidensticker sidesteps the errors of earler translations to paint a vivid portrait of the real & imagined environment of the world's oldest novelist. Murasaki Shikibu wrote about what she knew best: the rarified world of the Imperial Court of Heian Japan. Her characters may have been recognized by her contemporaries, but the paragon Genji would be a difficult character to identify. The many women in his life - he seemed to love all women - were familiar to her court cognoscenti.

This fascinating tale follows the life of a mythical(?) "shining prince" of perfect manners and sublime taste, the paragon of Heian ideals. The story may have some chapters missing; there is an abrupt break from the story of Genji's life to the story of his son, a similar paragon but less successful with the women in his life.

Not a tome for the faint-of-heart, the book is quite hefty, despite being in paperback. It is worth the read - and the wade - not only for the story but for Murasaki's thinly veiled barbs at contemporary women in the court! My copy is dogeared and marked from frequent re-reads, notations, and references.
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Tags: Japanese, Genji, volumes, published, immediately