The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu – 1001 – 30 – Japanese

Title: The Tale of Genji

Author: Murasaki Shikibu

Original language: Japanese

Translation(s): 30 languages

Context: The Tale of Genji (1001) is a translated novel written during the eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu. The novel is a graceful work of imaginative fiction about courtly life in medieval Japan.

Synopsis: The tale running to 54 chapters is a long romance while presenting court life of Heian Japan spanning across the tenth century into the eleventh century. This is a masterpiece in Japanese literature and generally considered to be the first novel in the world. The author had been at the Japanese court as lady in attendance. Approximately, 800 Waka, courtly poems are incorporated professing to be the writing of the main character. Aristocratic culture prevalent during early Heian Japan is presented in an absorbing introduction in the novel in different forms of daily life, dressing styles, entertainment and moral code. The era of Japan is introduced through the tale of a gifted courtier, handsome, an excellent lover, sensitive and worthy friend named Genji, the era in early Heian Japan. Major part of the tale concerns the loves of Genji and the vividly portrayed women in his life. The beauties of nature and human emotions have been shown supreme sensitivity in Murasaki Shikibu work however as it proceeds, the Buddhist conviction of transience of his world are reflected in its darkening tone.

Other works by the Author:

  • Probably written between 1008 and 1010 – The Diary of Lady Murasak
  • Early Edo period (1615–1868) – Wakamurasaki

·        Approx 1000 years ago – A String of Flowers, Untied… Love Poems from The Tale of Genji

  • The Lives of Three Women in 11th Century Japan (100 Copy Collector’s Edition)

·        Wine Cups on the Stream: From the Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji, a Novel from 11th Century Japan

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