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1. Diary of Lady Murasaki (Penguin
2. The Tale of Genji
3. The Tale of Genji: (Penguin Classics
4. Approaches to Teaching Murasaki
5. The Tale of Genji
6. Genji Monogatari
7. Murasaki Shikibu: The Tale of
8. A String of Flowers, Untied...
9. The Tale of Murasaki: A Novel
10. 11th-Century Women: 11th-Century
11. Murasaki Shikibu, Her Diary and
13. Genji Monogatari
14. Die Geschichte vom Prinzen Genji.
15. Genji monogatari (Shin Nihon koten
16. The sacred tree,: Being the second
17. Journal (Les Journaux poetiques
18. A wreath of cloud,: Being the
19. Japanese Literature: Including
20. Le Dit du Genji, 2 volumes : Magnificence-

1. Diary of Lady Murasaki (Penguin Classics)
by Murasaki Shikibu
Paperback: 144 Pages (1999-03-09)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.37
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014043576X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The Diary recorded by Lady Murasaki (c. 973 c. 1020), author of The Tale of Genji, is an intimate picture of her life as tutor and companion to the young Empress Shoshi. Told in a series of vignettes, it offers revealing glimpses of the Japanese imperial palace the auspicious birth of a prince, rivalries between the Emperor's consorts, with sharp criticism of Murasaki's fellow ladies-in-waiting and drunken courtiers, and telling remarks about the timid Empress and her powerful father, Michinaga. The Diary is also a work of great subtlety and intense personal reflection, as Murasaki makes penetrating insights into human psychology her pragmatic observations always balanced by an exquisite and pensive melancholy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice edition of a minor text
This penguin volume is the paperback and easily accessed translation of the 'Diary of Murasaki Shikibu', a fragmentary piece written by the author of the much more famous and inspired 'Tale of Genji'. As Genji is probably the best work in all the history of Japanese literature, and as we know so little about its author, this diary (which is a fragented remain of the possible original) has acquired a certain relevance it would otherwise lack from purely literary and quality arguments.

The diary as said is a fragmented and patched-up remain of the original one that Murasaki Shikibu might have noted down. It mainly describes the events of 2 years when she was in the service of Empress Shoshi at the Tsuchimikado Palace. The main event in more than half of the book is the birth of Prince Atsunada, son of Shoshi and the reigning Emperor (Go-Ichijo) and grandson of Fujiwara no Michinaga (the all-powerful regent of that period of Heian Japan). The first 50 or so sections describe in detail the ceremonies held and gives a glimpse of courtier life of the times, so different from the idealized view that Murasaki would forge in the Genji. Here the courtiers tend to be rude, unsubtle and drunk, and the ladies (Murasaki included) bored, insecure and with a high tendency to gossip and critizising everyone else. The second part of the book includes some semblances of fellow-maids and courtiers, some of which were famous poets on their own (Ise no Taifu, Akazome Emon, Sei Shonagon), some ritual Gosechi Dances at the Imperial Palace and Murasaki's absence from the Courtly World. As in all Heian-era diaries, the events described are interspersed with poems written by Murasaki and others for the occasion. Heian courtiers were expected to produce them quite spontaneously as a matter of fact.

Don't get me wrong: the diary as it is has its interest and its beauties. Some of the poems are very good, and some of the paragraphs have been clearly polished and noted down by a master writer, like the first scene of the book, describing the arrival of late autumn at the Tsuchimikado Palace and the lovely combination of the sight of the waters in the Palace lake with the sound of the chanting of the monks. Nevertheless, it is a work of marginal interest if you aren't extremely interested in Heian Japan, the court life of the eleventh century and/or Murasaki Shikibu. I consider it well worth the read, but definitely a minor, anecdotic text.

As for this edition: it is inspired in a previous one, made by Richard Bowring in the 80s and published by Princeton. The old text (it can still be bought second-hand) is more academic (which isn't necessarily a virtue for the lay reader) but has the advantage over the penguin edition in that it also includes the 'poetic memoirs' of Murasaki (that is to say, a colection of a bit over 100 poems by the author, most with explanatory prefaces). It is a pity that the Penguin edition discarted these poems, and being a very small volume, there would have been no space troubles about it.

5-0 out of 5 stars insight into the japanese court
The diary of Lady Murasaki is the court diary of the author of the Tale of Genji - an 11th century masterpiece of japanese literature. Although Murasaki Shikibu has been dead for over 1000 years this diary brings to life Murasaki and the imperial court. It recounts an important period at court with the birth of Empress Shoshi's first son. We are given details into court ceremonies, life, fashion, and attitudes. Excellent read, especially if you're interested in Japan.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great look at Japanese history
The Diary of Lady Murasaki is a very fine read, even by today's standards. Sadly short due to age, it still offers an amazing insight into court life of the time.

The book's coverage of both important court events and the personal outlook of Murasaki herself on everything from fashion to her contemporaries is eye-opening to say the least. Great attention is paid to detail where she was able to remember any detail at all, and when she does not remember detail, she always made a note of why. Perhaps the most refreshing part of the book is the honesty in her observations. She seldom seems to mince words, which is not something that I would expect from anyone at all familiar with court politics.

The book is especially valuable given the lack of other documents to come out of the period.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must read for Asian history buffs.
And a companion piece ot the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. The world of courtiers and courtesans, intrigues, affairs.

Daily soaps will never be exciting once you've read this book! WOW!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Slim Tome that Packs Quite a Punch
First off, Although the book i s 91 pages long there is a 52 page introduction. The introduction by Bowring is very well done, especially for those who are unfamiliar with Heian era Japan, like me. Bowring gives adequate introductions to the architecture, dress, religion, and other things of culture at the time. Although the info he gives of Murasaki Shikibu is scant, he does give the reader all of the information that is known about the author of the Genji monogatari. The diary itself is a wonderful resource of Heian era Japan. Murasaki Shikibu gives wonderfully detailed descriptions of ceremonies, dress, and glimpses of daily lives of females in the court. Bowring adds wonderfully helpful footnotes to aid teh reader. Also the illustrations inb the book are wonderful for showing how the Heian lady dressed and how a Heian era mansion looked. Good little book. ... Read more

2. The Tale of Genji
by Shikibu Murasaki
Paperback: 384 Pages (1990-06-16)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$1.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679729534
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
"Not only the world's first real novel, but one of its greatest."

-- Donald Keene, Columbia University

In the eleventh century Murasaki Shikibu, a lady in the Heian court of Japan, wrote the world's first novel. But The Tale of Genji is no mere artifact. It is, rather, a lively and astonishingly nuanced portrait of a refined society where every dalliance is an act of political consequence, a play of characters whose inner lives are as rich and changeable as those imagined by Proust. Chief of these is "the shining Genji," the son of the emperor and a man whose passionate impulses create great turmoil in his world and very nearly destroy him. This edition, recognized as the finest version in English, contains a dozen chapters from early in the book, carefully chosen by the translator, Edward G. Seidensticker, with an introduction explaining the selection. It is illustrated throughout with woodcuts from a seventeenth-century edition.

"A. triumph of authenticity and readability."

-- Washington Post Book World

"[Seidensticker's] translation has the ring of authority."

-- The New York Times Book ReviewAmazon.com Review
Widely acknowledged as the world's first novel, this astonishingly lovely book was written by a court lady in Heian Japan and offers a window into that formal, mannered world.Genji, a man of passionate impulses and a lover of beauty, is the favorite son of the Emperor, though his position at court is not entirely stable.He follows his wayward longings through moonlight-soaked gardens and jeweled pavilions, with mysterious women such as the Lady of the Orange Blossoms, the Akashi lady, and his own father's Empress.This version is translated by Edward G. Seidensticker, who has translated a number of other great Japanese writers such as Mishima and Kawabata. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Books Love Jessica Marie
The Tale of Genji is a rare glimpse into eleventh century Japan. Murasaki Shikibu does a magnificent job describing the life at the imperial court. The story follows the life of Genji who is the son of the emperor, but his mother is of very low rank so he is unable to become an heir. Even though Genji cannot become an heir to the thrown he is the jewel of the imperial court, being talented in everything that was valued at the time including: poetry, dance, koto playing, and a keen eye for ascetics. Some could say that Genji is the equivalent of the European Renaissance man.

The good looks that the people at court thought would lead to Genji having a short life, proved to be wrong and ended up turning Genji into s true ladies man. Most of the story is consumed by Genji's affairs, which can be a bit tiresome and confusing. Genji chose some rather unexpected characters to become his lovers including a little girl that he brings to the palace to shape into the perfect wife. One good thing about all of Genji's affairs is it gives the reader the chance to read many different Waka, which are two lined poems that would be exchanged between lovers.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Japanese history, since it is written by someone who lived during the Heian period. This book is also good for anyone who truly enjoys classics because it is considered one of the WORLD's first novels. However if you don't mind lengthy books, I would recommend reading the unabridged version which has 54 chapters compared to the 12 available in this version. One plus to the abridged version is it is full of woodblock printings inspired by the novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars Book Order
Great service. Condition of book was stellar and it was delivered in a very timely manner.

5-0 out of 5 stars Abridgement of THE great Japanese novel
This is a review of the abridged translation of The Tale of Genji by Edward G. Seidensticker.

The Tale of Genji was written in the 11th century by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, and its story is set in the same period.It is universally considered THE great Japanese traditional novel, and one of the greatest works of world literature.

Seidensticker's abridged translation is about one-quarter as long as the complete work, and includes chapters 1, 4-5, 7-14 and 17.These chapters hang together fairly well as a self-contained narrative that gives a flavor for the complete work.The story begins with the lady of the Paulownia Court, a kind and refined woman with whom the Emperor falls in love.Because she lacks support at court, she is hounded to death by those jealous of her, including Kokiden, the Emperor's wife.But before she dies she gives birth to the Emperor's son, Genji.Since, like his mother, he lacks influential relatives at court, the Emperor keeps him a commoner (and hence ineligible to become Emperor).But from his childhood, Genji's beauty, elegance, artistry and aesthetic sensibility leaves others awestruck, and frequently in love with him.In the period of the novel, upper-class people occupied themselves primarily with poetry composition, painting, ritual activities and romantic affairs.These affairs were largely tolerated, as long as they were conducted discreetly.Much of the novel is taken up with Genji's affairs, which lead him into near-disaster more than once.Eventually, he is discovered in the apartments of Oborozukiyo, sister of Kokiden.Genji might have gotten away with this under his father's reign, but by this time his father has been succeeded by the Suzaku Emperor, who is largely controlled by his mother, Kokiden.So the scandal leads to Genji going into exile. At the end of this abridgement, Genji returns from exile, in part through the intervention of the spirit of his father, who appears to the Suzaku Emperor in a dream, and then Genji's illicit son succeeds to the throne.We eventually see Genji returned to his old honors at court, and planning on bringing to court the Akashi Lady, whom he met while in exile and who became the mother to Genji's daughter.

One might understand Genji as a man always searching for the mother whom he never knew.In the "Evening Faces" chapter, Genji has an affair with an unnamed woman whose hold on him seems mysterious: "She was of an extraordinarily gentle and quiet nature. ... She did not appear to be of very good family." (41) This could just as easily be a description of Genji's mother.This woman dies suddenly (seemingly as the result of malign spirits), so metaphorically Genji loses his mother once again.His great love is Fujitsubo, the new consort of the Emperor (Genji's father), whom the Emperor chose precisely because she reminds everyone of Genji's mother (22).Fujitsubo is also attracted to Genji, and their illicit relationship results in Genji forcing himself on her and fathering a son whom everyone believes to be the current Emperor's (86-88).(Indeed, this child eventually becomes the Reizei Emperor.)After this, Fujitsubo more and more isolates herself from Genji to avoid any suspicion.The other major woman in Genji's life is Murasaki.When Genji discovers her, she is a ten-year-old child.He finds out that, like him, she lost her mother while young.Perhaps even more significantly, she is Fujitsubo's niece (74)!Her father still lives, but she does not live with him, and he has not shown much interest in her.So Genji spirits her away in the middle of the night, planning on raising her to be his ideal woman.

This novel could also be seen as presenting a sort of Buddhist perspective on romantic love.Genji sees the beauty in everything.This is part of the reason that he is attracted to so many different women.And in the aesthetic of this book, beauty is accentuated by its very transience.The person we love today may die tomorrow.This is a distinctively Zen perspective.But Genji is also trapped by his attachment to the people whom he loves from achieving enlightenment.Listening to a monk intone the scriptures "Genji was filled with envy.Why did he not embrace the religious life?He knew... that the chief reason was" Murasaki (208).

The position of women in Genji's society is complex.Genji says of women, "The clear, forceful ones I can do without. ...a woman who is quiet and withdrawn and follows the wishes of a man even to the point of letting herself be used has much the greater appeal" (62-63).On the other hand, the novel does have a genuine heroine: Fujitsubo.She resists her attraction to Genji and then resigns as Empress and becomes a nun, all for the good of her son.The ambivalent position of women is well illustrated by the interaction between Genji's wife, Aoi, and the Rokujo Lady.After Genji ends his affair with the latter, his wife's servants embarrass her at a public event.Then when Aoi is pregnant, she becomes seriously ill when possessed by a spirit: "It was not Aoi's voice, nor was the manner hers.Extraordinary-and then he knew that it was the voice of the Rokujo lady.He was aghast."(162) The Rokujo Lady's spirit has "gone walking" in her sleep, attacking the object of her anger and jealousy.The story clearly takes this as a serious possibility, but we can also see it as a symbolic playing out of the dangers of affairs and jealousy.

There are many aspects of this story that will seem alien or even disturbing to contemporary Western readers.As one of my students put it, colloquially but succinctly, "Genji seems like a player": it is hard to even keep track of how many affairs he has over the course of the novel.And his relationship with young Murasaki is, to be equally colloquial, creepy.She is frightened when he comes in the night to take her away, but he tells her "You are not to sulk, now, and make me unhappy.Would I have done all this for you if I were not a nice man?Young ladies should do as they are told." (103) He takes her virginity just a few years later, after essentially treating her as his daughter.

But we must also keep in mind that Genji's behavior was not regarded in his culture the way that it would be in our own.And we must recognize Genji's admirable qualities.He sees something unique and beautiful in each of the women that he has a relationship with, and does not merely forget them afterwards: "His manner as always gentle and persuasive, it is doubtful that he said anything he did not mean.There were no ordinary, common women among those with whom he had had even fleeting affairs, nor were there any among them in whom he could find no merit; and so it was, perhaps, that an easy, casual relationship often proved durable." (235) This is perhaps more than many people today could say.

4-0 out of 5 stars An interesting journey to a different time and culture
In the book's defense, Aristotle said "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." Many of the events described in this book seem unacceptable to the Western 21st century moral code, BUT neither Lady Murasaki nor Genji were 21st century Westerners.

Many cultures around the world still have arranged marriages, the arrangements happen while the bride (and groom) are still children, sometimes the groom is much older, so there's nothing really THAT strange about that. From what I gleaned Genji didn't have physical relations with Murasaki until she was old enough so really, no harm no foul.

As far as the cultural content this book was fascinating, you have to factor in when it was written that it had to be translated into English which I would assume was no easy task for any translator; sometimes "ideas" don't translate as well as one would hope.

Other than that the book was a hard read but definitely worth it, I found myself almost craving to read it if I put it down for a while. I just couldn't wait to hear about Genji's next adventure or conquest.
The poetry was also of interest, apparently it was proof of intelligence and/or good breeding (or something) at that time to be able to make up a good poem spontaneously (on the fly) and they do this often throughout the book; which at first threw me while reading, but you soon get used to it.

You can also catch a hint of the traditional Japanese culture (that I know of, which isn't a lot) and it may help with an understanding of what it's all about; in other words it is possible to make some connections between then and now.

The characters are all very interesting and Murasaki makes them come alive with her very vivid descriptions of their personalities as well as physical descriptions that aren't too exhausting. You can practically say you "know" the people she describes, you can imagine someone you know that is just like that character. Genji is so haughty and pompous, it's almost comical at times, but who wouldn't be if they were given near god status at birth? He seems almost naive or innocent, even though in reality he's far from it, almost narcissistic, but it's all good because he's "Genji", lol. You almost become narcissistic along with him - toward him, it's contagious.

It is also very humorous at times and I found myself chuckling out loud (and then not able to explain to people what I'm laughing about because you "had to be there"); you get so in tune with the culture that you find humor in the "slights" that are completely culturally based.

I was struck so many times by the similarites between "human nature" then and now, the only real differences are cultural. Their personalities, their desires, their emotions are all the same as what we are familiar with in this day and age.

This was just a GOOD book and a GOOD story, it's no wonder it has been around so long.


4-0 out of 5 stars The Reviews Should be Reviewed!
It's amazing how so many of the people writing negative reviews on this book are focused on what they see as moral or philosophical content.

They seem to miss the fact that Lady Murasaki was writing in the context of the society at that time, and exploring those same moral conflicts within the reality of both society and individual consciousness. Genji is not a hero placed on a pedestal, Murasaki examines him in the most honest way, showing both the good and the bad, the beauty and the beast; and that's what makes it such a great novel. It has integrity of subject rarely seen in our modern formulas and Hollywood endings.

In modern texts the writing formulas is a hero who goes through a series of climaxes, culminating in a victory or defeat where the protagonist discovers something about themselves, but with Genji, the reader discovers something about themselves, and maybe that's too disturbing for some people.

In addition, it passes on an abundance of information on Japanese history and culture of the Heian area. It is a significant work relating to the Japanese Incense Ceremony called Kodo, of which today the most famous game is called "Genji Koh" or "Incense of the Genji." ... Read more

3. The Tale of Genji: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
by Murasaki Shikibu
Paperback: 1216 Pages (2002-11-26)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014243714X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Written in the eleventh century, this exquisite portrait of courtly life in medieval Japan is widely celebrated as the world's first novel. Genji, the Shining Prince, is the son of an emperor. He is a passionate character whose tempestuous nature, family circumstances, love affairs, alliances, and shifting political fortunes form the core of this magnificent epic. Royall Tyler's superior translation is detailed, poetic, and superbly true to the Japanese original while allowing the modern reader to appreciate it as a contemporary treasure. Supplemented with detailed notes, glossaries, character lists, and chronologies to help the reader navigate the multigenerational narrative, this comprehensive edition presents this ancient tale in the grand style that it deserves.

Translated by Royall Tyler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

2-0 out of 5 stars I don't recommend reading this, but if you do, read the abridged version
The Tale of Genji is the most boring book I can remember having read.Sprawling over 1,100 pages, this is a perfect candidate for abridgment (and it wasn't until I was well into the book that I learned that there is, apparently, an abridged version).While I appreciate that this work has historical significance, I found it excruciating to read for several reasons.

First, the story is just plain boring.I don't find it interesting to read 1,100 pages about various men catching glimpses of various women and then plotting how they can convince said women to hook up with them and, failing voluntary consent, rape them.It's (a) disgusting, and (b) not interesting.

The book also contains volumes of unnecessary detail.For example, it seems that every second or third chapter contains a description of a festival or a celebration, in which the author drones on about how charming someone looks, how radiant another's robe is, how elegant a girl's handwriting is, or how splendidly a man plays a flute.Yawn.I'm sure it would be interesting to actually witness such a celebration.But it's not interesting to read about it.The recounting of gifts and changes in rank is also tedious, and reads like an old Square Enix role playing game.For example, in the chapter entitled "The Ivy," the author recounts how "The six gentlemen of the fourth rank each received a set of women's robes and a long dress, the ten of the fifth got a triple-layered Chinese jacket and a train that acknowledged their station; and the four of the sixth got trousers and a damask long dress."So boring; so unnecessary.Sometimes even the author appears to concede that her story is boring.For example, in the "Writing Practice" chapter, when a couple notes are exchanged (and this is another tedious and boring part of the book - all the notes passed back and forth), the author notes that "There was nothing noteworthy about the nun's rapidly spoken reply."If it wasn't noteworthy, why note it?There are a couple occasions where the author mercifully spares the reader unnecessary details, such as an exchange of poems in "The Seer" chapter, after which she writes "Many others added theirs, but I have left them out."Thans for leaving them out, but you didn't even need to waste a line telling me you left them out.

There is no shortage of hackneyed language in the book, which also contributes to the story's soporific quality.No chapter is complete without reference to someone's "wet sleeves" and "sleeves wet with dew," which are the author's metaphors for crying.Whether it's because of a person's death, a woman's indescribable beauty, a noble's splendid flute skills, or a woman's refusal to let a man have sex with her, characters' sleeves always seem wet with dew.Maybe use the phrase maybe a couple times; but over and over and over?Yawn.Abridge.Please.

Another deterrent to finishing this book is the way in which characters are referenced.They usually have real names, but are nonetheless referred to by titles and ranks.Such as "the Captain," or "the Commander," or "the Consort," or "the Lieutenant."I could deal with this at first.But after several changes in rank, and assignments of title from one character to another, multiplied by over 50 chapters, it became a massive chore to keep track of who is who and who did what.If the book weren't so boring, it might be worth studying the character's names to keep track of people better.But there's just no payoff, since you know you're most likely just going to read about exchange of gifts, poetry competition, or a man attempting to rape a woman.Couple the use of titles with points in the story where characters are simply referred to as "he" or "she"for pages on end, without a reminder of who is who, and it becomes easy to put this book down and go to bed.

Ultimately, upon finishing this book, my own sleeves were wet with dew - from tears of boredom and disappointment at having wasted my time slogging through all 1,100 pages.

1-0 out of 5 stars Avoid this Translation Like the Plague
Royal Tyler's translation of the Genji is the equivalent of a de luxe collection of the recordings of Mario Lanza: all the tinsel in the world can't disguise the second rate. The book is unquestionable an "object." A huge cast list at the start of every chapter, followed by synopses, followed by pages cluttered with illustrations on various sides of the pages and copious footnotes at the bottom: all of which creates a pretty effective barrior between the reader and the work. There is no question that Heian Japan in a far remove from 21st century American (heck, it's essentially at as far a remove from 21st century Japan). But various translators have managed to balance images and explanatory notes to bridge the gap without over-encumbering the text itself. Ivan Morris' translation of The Pillow Book is a very effective example of this.

Then there is the issue of names. Now, those glancingly familiar with Heian Japan might think Tyler's choice to leave most of the characters without names is an example of scrupulous fidelity, and I guess their reasoning would be that if this makes knowing who did what highly unclear and confusing in the moment--let alone connecting these event with activites the characters engaged in 100-200 pages back--that's just because they aren't capable of "getting into" Heian literature. No, no, no. For Murasaki Shikibu's audience, it was all very clear. The shifting honorific verbs and the familiarity with the manner of writing (which was the manner of all Heian prose writing) made this quite evident. But starting very quickly after the collapse of Heian society, this crucial connection between writer and audience was lost, and as time progressed commentators were "naming" the characters in order to keep them straight (as well as providing Genji dictionaires in order to comprehend the language). This is very important to realize. Giving the characters names in translation is not the same as, say, rendering Joyce's Ulysses in a third person objective non-stream-of-conscious style. Murasaki wan't going for an eccentric individual effect that she expected her audience to struggle through for the sake of someothing important. It's that language has changed so much an accretian of problems has sprung up trying to comprehend the text.

And this issue of language is very strongly related to the overuse of a very sparse vocabulary. You don't see Tyler reproducing the same word to translate "ayashi" for instance, a word at times used over and over in the same paragraph with shifting meanings that the reader would have to decipher. He knows the paucity of Heian Japanese led to an ovveruse of the same small vocabulary. (In The Pillow Book, Sei Shonagon employs "okashi," which means "charming" almost incessently.) Why utilize the rich resources of contemporary English to "improve" one element of the translation but not another? The simple fact is, the construction of English, and even modern Japanese, makes anything other than a "free" translation of Heian literature impossible.

The issue of charcter names is particularly spurious in the way Tyler has approached the problem. In the original, even titles are rarely used. Not only names but pronouns are rigorously avoided. Leading to a (to put it mildly) high level of obscurity for the modern reader. But Tyler has a subject, name or pronoun, in every sentence, and when the object is a person, there is a concrete object in every sentence. He's merely replaced the traditional names of characters used by everyone from commentators to later Japanese editions (even modern Japanese versions are really "translations"; one might use English language versions of Beowulf as an analogy) with the offices they hold at a given point. But he has NOT done the same for Genji. The name Genji is used sparingly in the original, but Tyler uses it incessantly. The result is that everyone else in the text sinks amorphously into the background while Genji remains personally prominent. And that's a more inaccurate rendering of the relationships than occurs in any of the early translations.

There is also the simple use of language. Murasaki Shikibu, as mentioned earlier, has a sparse vocabulary. What she does have, and which to such an extent makes the tone of the original what it is, is agglutinative verbs, a way of referring to the deeds of people depending on their cast and position that is lengthier the higher in society an individual is. Thus sentences are longer and slower when dealing with people of a very high class, shorter and brisker when dealing with commoners. Tyler makes no attempts to reproduce any of this, but he does write in long, ornate, I guess what might be taken for for "elegent" sentences. This is not an example of fidelity in translation. What Tyler has given us is a spuriously "antiquated" sounding text, that does not reflect Murasaki Shikibu but rather gives Westerners a pseudo "exotic" experience.

Even putting aside the issue of fidelity to style, which is impossible anyway, Tyler's translation just reads so poorly. There are so many examples to chose from. An example that always stands out to me is the chapter title "The Bluebell." Technically, the asagao, the flower from which this chapter gains its name, is a morning glory, though in all probability in Heian times the word refered to a bluebell-like plant called in modern Japanese called the kikyo. The trouble with utilizing "bluebell" instead of "morning glory" is, first of all, a kikyo is not technically a bluebell, only a bluebell-like flower, and secondly, an American cannot but help of either thinking of the Texas countryside or a paricular brand of ice crème, neither of which helps to recreate a sene of Heian Japan. In this same chapter, a character makes the comment, "Familiarity breeds contempt." Again, while a similar phrase might exist in the original, choosing the same wording as a popular American adage really hurts the translation.

It's curious to me that, eight years after its publication, this translation has still not been reviewed by American or English academics in Japanese literature. At least I've not been able to find any. I wonder if that suggests the people who know the original and are in a position to evaluate this translation best don't consider it worth their time. (It's, I should say, pretty unusual for academics in a given language field not to comment on contemporary translations of classic works, and a new translation of the Genji is not a common event.)

The one thing the work does accomplish is a something of a defense for Arthur Waley. When Edward Seidensticker's tranlsation came out--and I believe it is the best translation we have--there was an effort on the part of some academics to bash poor Waley over the head and to accuse him of inventing whole passages himself. There's no doubt that Waley cut a lot, particularly in the middle (the poems are synopsized in the prose in most instances, and at times ignored altogether, and a whole chapter is missing from his translation), or that he embroidered for the sake of clarification. There's a famous instance where he invents a sentence then puts a footnote to it, leading to the impression he's clarifying something from the original text. But it's nice to see that some of his supposed "inventions," like the old man at the gate in the snow, were there all along. Seidensticker does not cut out any events (which Waley does), but his tendancy is to economise and avoid repetitious statements or details he considered unimportant. But if this is the most that can be said for Tyler's contributions, that is not saying much.

So there you have it. Muddled language. Far too many footnotes which the reader will feel must be read, but will jerk him or her out the tale so regularly that following the story will be difficult. A misconcieved approach to identifying the characters. Yes, this book comes as a very pretty package. Illustrations, maps, synopses, character charts, city and country maps. A fancy use of type printed on elegant paper. The paperback is as fancy as the hardcover. But don't choose a translation on the basis of its design pattern. Choose it on the basis of translation. And choose another.

5-0 out of 5 stars Art that transcends time & place
This novel is totally magnificent and a pricless piece of literature.
It has richness and depth. It's a masterpiece of portraiting intimacy & human relations in the most beautiful delicate language. It contains history, art, knowledge of the magnificent Heian period of thousand years ago. However, it still can be read today with delight and joy.
You need to have a brief knowledge about the Heian era so you can follow the course of events. Luckily I have seen the Anime Genji Monogatari, the old and new, so reading the novel was a greater pleasure.
It transcends time & place.

5-0 out of 5 stars Genji is my hero.
Who wouldn't want to read a book where the main character dies 3/4 of the way through and the book STILL continues? No one. That's who.

4-0 out of 5 stars Antiquity creates well-thought novels.
Modern novels generally are not so.They lack depth, substance, good metaphor, allusions, and the like.The only thing they do well is character development, and even then, it is limited to one to three characters.The Tale of Genji is "the world's first novel" which is more or less true.It is terribly old, written before the sengoku period in Japan, and is comprised of 54 chapters.

This translation, by Royall Tyler, is a great one.But the novel itself is confusing at its base, and even moreso considering everything else it has to offer.Unless the reader has thoroughly studied ancient Japanese poetry and lore, they will never understand some of the minor allusions that enrich every page.Back to the translation, it has been said to be the closest translation to the actual novel itself, written in old Japanese.The prose is poetic, and the poetry is even moreso.As the introduction states, some people study this book, while others find the poetry worth individual, indepth study due to its beautiful flow and allusions, as if every word was not Murasaki's, but every poet in the history of Japan.

That is not to say this translation is flawless, and there was a time or two when I cringed at the choice of words, especially when comparing it to the original Japanese.Even so, no other translation comes this close.

Another thing to note is that there is rarely a person named in the book.Place-names take over, which are essentially just ranks.Thus, it gets annoying to remember To no Chujo as the Secretary Captain, because his name is his title, and so one has to remember two names for every character, essentially.However, due to the confusing nature of the original text, many times it was impossible to determine just who was meant to be speaking, and so this translation does a wonderful job making it more concise.

The plotline is moderately simple, but full of depth.With as many characters as it has (which is nowhere near as much as Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which I felt myself compare it to) there is a lot of depth considering the different views, specifically of rank and gender.It is a great depiction of court life in ancient Japan, as well as the difference between classes.It is a romance novel at heart, though.

Overall, this was a worthy purchase, and while it is incredibly big and could have been made into two volumes to reduce the stress on the binding.Of course, this book was less expensive than most others and is also not hardcover, so for its quality, it should be as expected. ... Read more

4. Approaches to Teaching Murasaki Shikibu's the Tale of Genji (Approaches to Teaching World Literature)
 Paperback: 186 Pages (1994-01)
list price: US$19.75 -- used & new: US$232.23
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0873527186
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Something for Everyone
Murasaki Shikibu wrote "The Tale of Genji" more than a thousand years ago, but it has fueled criticism and even entire careers into the present day.Its fifty-four chapters contain a seemingly inexhaustible well of story, character, and nuance--so the average reader could be forgiven for feeling a little daunted.

"Approaches to Teaching the Tale of Genji," edited by Edward Kamens, helps to counter that feeling.The book contains more than twenty essays by a wide variety of authors.The essays are compact (few run longer than ten pages), and cover topics from the influence of Heian architecture on the lives of the characters, to the role of ladies-in-waiting in the Tale, to an especially masterful analysis of how the final chapter featuring Genji ever-so-subtly prepares us for the death of the Shining One.

The book is called *Teaching* the Tale of Genji, and its stated purpose is, ultimately, to provide university professors with ways to present the book to students.Some essays address this goal more directly than others, but no essay alienates those who are not teachers.(One or two do include a protective layer of jargon, but most contributors manage to make their work admirably accessible.)The book falls into three parts: Edward Kamens provides a brief overview of the texts and the related literature, then there are essays on understanding the text, reading the text, and comparing and contrasting it with other texts, in that order.

This book is not an introduction to Genji; readers should have at least a passing familiarity with the Tale before approaching Approaches.That said, Japanese language ability is not a requirement.The book uses Seidensticker's translation as its main version of Genji.("Approaches" was published in 1993, and so refers only to Waley's and Sedensticker's versions--it was too early to include Royall Tyler's more recent translation.)

The sheer variety of essays virtually ensures that everyone will find something to interest them, including subjects they may never have thought about before.The book crams a huge amount of information into its short (less than 200 pages) length, and should provide both casual and long-time readers of Genji with new ways of looking at this oldest of books.

~ ... Read more

5. The Tale of Genji
by Murasaki Shikibu
Paperback: 1118 Pages (1978-07-12)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$16.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394735307
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The Tale of Genji was written in the eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady of the Heian court. It is universally recognized as the greatest masterpiece of Japanese prose narrative, perhaps the earliest true novel in the history of the world. Until now there has been no translation that is both complete and scrupulously faithful to the original text. Edward G. Seidensticker's masterly rendering was first published in two volumes in 1976 and immediately hailed as a classic of the translator's art. It is here presented in one unabridged volume, illustrated throughout by woodcuts taken from a 1650 Japanese edition of The Tale of Genji. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

4-0 out of 5 stars To be read on its own terms...
I'm impressed how carefully some reviewers here have read not only this translation but others. I have taken a more impressionistic approach to traveling through this very long, if fragrant, jungle - almost as I did literally when in Cameroon many years ago and, in the vibrant, chirping rain forest, could only hear most of the animals who, hidden, surrounded me. Anyone who simply wants to read for pleasure and be led in a fairly conventional way through a story should be warned that the usual problems of both translation and period (this was written centuries before Chaucer, never mind Shakespeare or Jane Austen) are only part of what makes a linear, focused reading of this very long book difficult. There are numerous characters, sometimes known under shifting names; there are what appear to be additions or lacunae in the story; there are events which are inherently confusing, or even weird (his whole kidnapping/adoption and subsequent courtship of a little girl would be far more disturbing if the author herself didn't seem to regard it as, almost, normal). The use of short verse to communicate (apparently a very real convention of the time) is not only confusing to modern readers, the specific meaning of each verse snippet (lovely as many of them are) will often be entirely lost or only understood after rereading both of the poem and the footnote that typically accompanies it (and more often than not refers to some now-lost work by yet an earlier writer). The various obligations of court ritual virtually form a language in themselves - a language which is already hard to understand in its more modern form in Old Regime France, and might as well be out of "Lord of the Rings" for many modern readers. -- All this said, what keeps one reading? Partially, as with every great literary work, the very real characters and attitudes that peek through portraiture that sometimes seems like mythologization (Genji in some ways is more like a Greek hero, part demi-god, than any actual human being, even one at a long-dead royal court). The verse, the mists, the pines, the paper-walled houses form a world that is not always comprehensible to a modern Western reader, but which has a real coherence and beauty. Genji's erotic misbehavior (delicately as it is described) is entertaining, even if other more somber events intrude. He does, despite a certain self-absorption, move towards wisdom. Lady Murasaki (if the translator is to be trusted) makes some very Austen-like observations on her hero's (mis)behavior. And finally, the very otherworldliness of the narrative, the sense that we are peeking in through not always clear glass at a real, specific world whose rules and rhythms are as real as they are beyond our understanding draws the reader in, engages their interest by its very refusal to quite yield all its truth, inviting the half-enlightened reader to press even more eagerly against the revealing yet often blurring glass.

3-0 out of 5 stars Ummm....
...this is definitely one of the hardest books I've ever read, and the hardest review to give. I started this book nearly a year ago, and since they there have been numerous times I've picked it up and put it aside soon afterwards to read something more interesting. Lets say I was more excited about reading it in the beginning than actually reading it. I found the characters, especially the men, disgustingly shallow and selfish. I didn't like the constant rape of the male characters love interests, claiming feelings for them I hardly believed existed and then blaming the women for the sorrow they felt when the feelings were not returned. The men constantly cried, and I found it a very low way for the men to get attention from the women. Yes, I was beginning to repulse men as a whole because of this book.

After reading a few chapters a month, or here and there, (whenever I felt like something not as exciting) I finally came to Genji's death and I felt obligated to finally finish it. It did get a little more exciting at the end, when Niou and Karaou were fighting over the three daughters of the Eighth Prince. Those last courtships were exciting enough to make the last three hundred pages less painful.

I should have given this a lower score, but I just couldn't. Since this is considered the first novel ever written, I feel it is important for people who read the classics should read it, and see how far the "novel" has come since its birth in tenth/eleventh century Japan. In the future when I have run out of things to read, I may try this gargantuan novel again. Perhaps when I get older and have a better grasp on poetry, I may appreciate it more.

1-0 out of 5 stars Disbelief at the praise
The _Tale of Genji_ is indisputably the most boring novel I've ever read.This is no exaggeration: it was only because of its towering stature in Japanese literature and an inertia fueled by disbelief -- this is a classic? -- that I finished it; anything else this unpleasant to read I would have put down long before the ending. I am not the only one to have this reaction, which has become more common in the twentieth century. There is now apparently a word in Japanese that translates as "loathing of Genji".

I recognize that my review is way out of line with the praise heaped on it by other reviewers, but I think it's important to recognize that the average star-ratings for long works don't act the same way as they do for shorter works. For epically long novels, only the people who like them get through to the end and the people who dislike them don't feel qualified to write poor reviews, so only good reviews get written. I suspect that a lot of people who start Genji give up in disgust or boredom.

I anticipated liking the book.I love long novels (e.g., I've read _War and Peace_ several times).And I like reading Japanese literature, including authors who praise Genji to high heaven. As with many older novels, you have to anticipate some slow points. But I did not anticipate the whole thing being slow points.

The story follows the amorous adventures of upper-class Japanese men in the Heian period as they pursue women, who are sequestered out of sight behind screens and blinds.They are not even to be seen standing. This has some potential as a romance, right? Kinda like early chivalric works? Or at least it offers a window into a life totally alien? Hardly.

The basic structure of the book is that it is a series of seduction/rape stories which go on for so long that the characters have regrets and have to confront death.Sometimes the girls -- rarely women -- are so stunned by Genji's and the other men's social status and beauty that they willingly submit; other times the enthusiasm is decidedly lacking, though the girl may grow to appreciate the man.

The stories follow roughly the same arc: the man either accidentally catches sight of the girl or is told a rumor of her presence in a particular house.He initiates courtship, usually by having a messenger deliver poetry.The girl is reluctant or unsure how to respond.The man increases pressure; the girl continues to be reluctant or confused (and is accused of cruelty for not properly responding to the man's attentions).Then the pressure increases, perhaps turns to outright coercion (e.g., the man pushes the screen and grabs a kimono sleeve).Then the story skips to dealing with the consequences, which often leads to musing on how fleeting life is.This gets very repetitive.

It is made all the worse in that the characters have very thin personalities.The women spend their days in a near prison-like state and that doesn't give them much room to develop.They can be pretty, they can play the koto or sing, they can write good poetry, etc.But this is such a narrow range of attributes that they tend to blur together.It doesn't help that once a conversation begins, proper names are rarely repeated so when your attention wanders it is difficult to recover.

A related problem is that the men's behavior is offensive.Because modern morals are not those of the past, reading classics usually requires holding your nose through parts. In this case you'll be holding your nose so long that you'll suffocate.The men are almost universally predatory.Those who praise Genji today invoke moral relativism, but it's clear that the men know that what they are doing can damage their reputations and that some of the girls are traumatized by what happens --even to the point of willing themselves to death.Early on, for example, Genji has an evening with a girl that he wants to keep hush-hush.Unfortunately she dies during the night.Since Genji shouldn't have been with her, he is confronted with the two problems: (1) the girl's maid wants to tell people that her mistress died and (2) the classic "body disposal problem". (Thank God for them mountain temples!)The girl's other ladies-in-waiting have no idea why their mistress has vanished and are living in a nightmare.This is timeless romance?

The last five hundred pages slowly improve, starting with the death of Genji's ideal wife.The last three hundred pages, once Genji dies, are better.They follow the responses to the advances of several men by two sisters and a half sister.Psychologists argue that people's memory of events is largely the product of the most intense moment and the last moment. So perhaps the people who write positive reviews are projecting the last couple of hundred pages back over the entire work.

That's the charitable way of understanding the praise. But we can see a modern equivalent of Genji, a way of measuring its timelessness. I'm writing this review a week after a man in California was arrested for having kidnapped an eleven year old girl, holding her for eighteen years and having two kids by her. How curiously similar this is to Genji's treatment of his favorite wife (his favorite because he kidnapped her at age ten so he could shape her into his vision of womanhood).
I have to admit that I'm amused by the response to this review: I've written over fifty reviews and this one accounts for two-thirds of my 'no' votes. I'm curious: have those of you who vote 'no' read Genji? If you look at my other reviews, you'd see that my only other one-star review is for something plagiarized: I continue to be astonished that such a piece of misogyny, not even redeemed by strong writing, is held up as one of the great classic novels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tale of Genji
I purchased this book for a college class I'm taking, but it's actually a fascinating book.When read carefully, you can really get a lot out of it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best Genji yet
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. ... Read more

6. Genji Monogatari
by Lady Murasaki Shikibu
Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-12-16)
list price: US$2.00
Asin: B0031574OG
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Product Description
Note: This is an abridged translation of the tale of Genji.

Genji Monogatari, or the Tale of Genji, is a classic work of Japanese fiction from the tenth century. Written by a noblewoman, Lady Murasaki, Genji is a milestone in world literature. It is a gateway into the courtly life of 10th century feudal Japan, during the Heian period. It has been called the first novel, and the writer, Lady Murasaki, is considered a pioneer of woman's literature. This was the first English translation of Genji, an abridgment which includes chapters 1 through 17 (out of 54). While it is abridged, the core narrative is all here, and it makes an enjoyable read if you want to experience this world classic without plowing through multiple volumes.--J.B. Hare ... Read more

7. Murasaki Shikibu: The Tale of Genji (Landmarks of World Literature (New))
by Richard Bowring
Paperback: 120 Pages (2003-11-10)
list price: US$20.99 -- used & new: US$16.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521539757
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji, written in Japan in the early eleventh century, is acknowledged to be one of Japan's greatest literary achievements, and sometimes thought of as the world's first novel. This introduction to the Genji sketches its cultural background, offers detailed analysis of the text, including language and style, and traces the history of its reception through nine centuries of cultural change. First Edition Hb (1988): 0-521-33349-0 First Edition Pb (1988): 0-521-33636-8 ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Genealogical chart of characters
I must state at the outset:I have not read this book.Thus, I truly have no right to award any stars, so in good conscience I could not award 5 stars although I would very much like to have -- solely on the basis of the Genealogical Chart of characters the book contains.

Those of you who have read even three -- No! even two -- chapters of a "full" translation of "The Tale of Genji," which this is not, must have resorted to making notes and lists of the characters, their various "names" and titles, and their relationships to other charcters.I certainly did, and I started doing so while still in Chapter 1.

It was harrowing work ("Is this the same man as X, but in a different job?", "Does Y have a sister, or just another name?", etc)and prevented me from fully attending to the story itself.

So thank you, Prof Bowring, for this book which I will use, much as a raw Parisian tourist uses his/her tightly grasped guide to the Metro, when I return to my copy of Genji.

5-0 out of 5 stars Covers everything with supreme efficiency
Don't be deceived by the bland cover and the fact that it is part of a series into thinking there's anything half-hearted about this book. Concise and vigorous, it covers all aspects of Genji, including the relative merits of the main English translations, in only 100 pages. A fabulous tour d'horizon. ... Read more

8. A String of Flowers, Untied... Love Poems from The Tale of Genji
by Murasaki Shikibu, Hatsue Kawamura
Paperback: 224 Pages (2002-09)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$6.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1880656620
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Expressions of passion and heartbreak, written by Japanese court lady Murasaki Shikubu a thousand years ago, transcend time and culture in this new translation of poetry from the first 33 chapters of The Tale of Genji.Over 400 tanka poems describe the intricate loveplay and erotic wordplay between men and women of noble birth, consumed with sexual desire and aesthetic longing.With plot synopses and annotations. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Tale of Genji
Beside being of importantliterary value Jane Reichhold'stranslation of "The Tale of Genji"is a work of both historic and anthropological significance.The importance of a type of poem, the tanka, to educated Japanese may be difficult for the average American reader to appreciate.In cultures where manners and formality mark social interaction poetry often becomes the vehicle of deep personal feelings.Japanese, as well as Arab and Persian society,are such cultures.
This new translation of Murasaki Shikubu's "Love Poems from The Tale of Genji"is must reading for those who would understand the world view of cultures other than their own.

Robert Gibson

5-0 out of 5 stars Over 400 tanka poems filled with love & sexual desire
A String of Flowers, Untied... Love Poems From The Tale of Genji is a new, evocative translation of poetry by Jane Reichhold (with the assistance of hatsue Kawamura) drawn from the first 33 chapters of the classic cornerstone of Japanese literature, "The Tale of Genji." Over 400 tanka poems filled with love, sexual desire, longing, and pleasures of the flesh fill the pages of this emotional and passionate rendition. "to be alone/remembering times when one/lived like a fisherman/pictures drawn on tidal flats/is what I should have been" ... Read more

9. The Tale of Murasaki: A Novel
by Liza Dalby
Paperback: 448 Pages (2001-08-21)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$3.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385497954
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The Tale of Murasaki is an elegant and brilliantly authentic historical novel by the author of Geisha and the only Westerner ever to have become a geisha.

In the eleventh century Murasaki Shikibu wrote the world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji, the most popular work in the history of Japanese literature. In The Tale of Murasaki, Liza Dalby has created a breathtaking fictionalized narrative of the life of this timeless poet–a lonely girl who becomes such a compelling storyteller that she is invited to regale the empress with her tales. The Tale of Murasaki is the story of an enchanting time and an exotic place. Whether writing about mystical rice fields in the rainy mountains or the politics and intrigue of the royal court, Dalby breathes astonishing life into ancient Japan.
Amazon.com Review
Liza Dalby's novel is a brilliantly imagined chronicle of the 11th-centuryJapanese writer Murasaki Shikibu. As we soon discover, our narrator has agood many doubts about the writing life. "As I pondered this question ofhow to be a success at court," she muses, "I came to the conclusion thatliterary ambition was more likely than not to bring a woman to a bad end."Happily, the real-life Murasaki persisted, and went on to become the authorof the world's first novel, The Tale of Genji. ForThe Tale of Murasaki, Dalby draws on this groundbreaking masterpieceand on the surviving fragments of Murasaki's own diary and poetry, alongwith another masterpiece of the Heian period, The Pillow Book of SeiShonagon. The result is a vivid and emotionally detailed portraitof an intelligent, sensitive, and complex woman.

In Dalby's novel, Murasaki writes her first stories about Prince Genji'samorous encounters in order to entertain her friends, and to express herown creative temperament. As the stories gain a wider public, however, theyare transformed into a conduit for observations on the mores and intriguesof court life. And in the end, as the narrator struggles to stay true toher literary vision, her tales are inflected by Buddhist thought andbecome parables on the transience and beauty of the world:

I have always felt compelled to set down a vision of things I have heardand seen. Life itself has never been enough. It only became real for mewhen I fashioned it into stories. Yet, somehow, despite all I've written,the true nature of things I've tried to grasp in my fiction still managesto drift through the words and sit, like little piles of dust, between thelines.
Dalby is an anthropologist by trade, who has produced two previousnonfiction studies: Kimono and Geisha. And given that herresearch for Geisha gained her the distinction of being the onlyWesterner ever to have trained in that much misunderstood profession, it'sno surprise that she is able to reconstruct 11th-century Japan withmeticulous fidelity. It's all there--the political and sexual machinations,the preoccupations with clothing and custom, the difficult and tenuousposition of courtiers, the intensity of female friendships in amale-dominated society--and the author shows us precisely how Murasaki'ssensibilities were shaped by the culture in which she lived. This is a richand convincing debut, and another chapter in the current resurrection ofthe historical novel. --Burhan Tufail ... Read more

Customer Reviews (51)

5-0 out of 5 stars Delightful
I read this book a long time ago when I was in my early teens, and I was quite enraptured of it when I think about it now. The author really brings to life the Lady Murasaki, a person I knew nothing about until picking up this book. An avid reader all my life, I was to learn that this novel was based on truth, of a woman who created the first novel ever known. A woman of feudal Japan! You go girl! The story of her life was fascinating and the author presented it beautifully. I couldn't help but find myself in that time and place along with Murasaki, walking the palace corridors, revealing in the beauty of Japan's backyards, wearing the style of the time. Of course the story made me aware of the book that Murasaki wrote those many years ago, and I did read that in its entirety not too long ago. I will read this wonderful book again sometime soon and I hope my review gets others to read it and "The Tale of Genji" itself. Read this novel first though.

4-0 out of 5 stars Incredibly strange and beautiful...
According to the book, Liza Dalby is the author ofGeisha and the only Westerner to ever have trained to become a geisha.Her first novel, this book tells the story of 11th century Japan and the woman who wrote The Tale of Genji, considered the world's first novel and the most popular work in Japanese literature.Denby visualizes life in the 11th century Imperial Court with incredibly rich detail and grace.Initially, Murasaki writes the stories of Prince Genji for her friends, but her work is circulated to a wider audience and she becomes famous and admired throughout the court.Dalby's intense research and historical detail bring to life a time and place completely different from our own, when every inch and shade of fabric portrayed complex meaning, and communication by two-line poem was the preferred method.Ancient Japan was incredibly strange and beautiful, and Darby captures it well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Japanese historical fiction
I originally read this some time ago, but while checking through some of the reviews, I knew I had to make my voice heard.

This was one of the first Japanese historical fiction novels I read, and I absolutely loved it. I could not put the book down! Dalby did an excellent job descrbing the life of Lady Mursaki, from her beginnings as the daughter of a Chinese scholar to a Lady in the Empress's court, the whole while being classically educated, something naturally extremely unusual. The novel (and indeed, Lady Murasaki's actual life) is set in Heian period in Japanese history, one of the greatest flowerings of the arts and literature in that period of time not just in Japan, but across the globe. The Tale of Genji is one of the bastions of Japanese literature, and so a glimpse into Murasaki's life (if, obviously, fictionalized) gives us a rich depth to the author that we can only imagine. There is not a lot terribly known about Lady Murasaki, but this novel provides a fantastically rich tapestry of what her life and loves might have been like.

For additional reading, I definitely recommend, naturally, The Tale of Genji: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition), and also for another Japanese historical fiction, The Teahouse Fire (set about 1000 years later in the Meiji era).

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read
This was an enjoyable bit of historical fiction - well written, and interesting. I would suggest having a least some basic background knowledge of the Tale of Genji, otherwise you might be a bit confused at points.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely well written, and provides valuable knowledge about the period
I purchased both The Diary of Lady Murasaki and The Tale of Genji over a year ago, but the long preface of The Diary of Lady Murasaki made me put off reading the book itself.Then a friend told me about The Tale of Murasaki.It took me less than a week to read, and provided me with much of the knowledge you need to read and understand both The Diary and The Tale of Genji.I found it very hard to put down The Tale of Murasaki, and highly recommend it to anyone to anyone who intends to read Japanese literature and is like me a complete neophyte. ... Read more

10. 11th-Century Women: 11th-Century Christian Female Saints, 11th-Century Female Rulers, 11th-Century Women Writers, Murasaki Shikibu
Paperback: 56 Pages (2010-09-15)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$16.48
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Asin: 1158169930
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Chapters: 11th-Century Christian Female Saints, 11th-Century Female Rulers, 11th-Century Women Writers, Murasaki Shikibu, Theodora the Macedonian, Agnes of Poitou, Saint Margaret of Scotland, Zoe Porphyrogenita, Emma of Lesum, Wallada Bint Al-Mustakfi, Hemma of Gurk, Cunigunde of Luxembourg, Sei Shōnagon, Godelina, Adelaide, Abbess of Vilich, Borena of Alania, Aurea of San Millán, Sugawara No Takasue No Musume. Source: Wikipedia. Pages: 54. Not illustrated. Free updates online. Purchase includes a free trial membership in the publisher's book club where you can select from more than a million books without charge. Excerpt: June 10 (pre-1970 General Roman Calendar) Saint Margaret (c. 1045 16 November 1093), was the sister of Edgar Ætheling, the short-ruling and uncrowned Anglo-Saxon King of England. She married Malcolm III, King of Scots, becoming his Queen consort. Saint Margaret of Scotland was a queen and needleworker. Saint Margaret was the daughter of the English prince Edward the Exile, son of Edmund Ironside. She was probably born at Castle Réka, Mecseknádasd, in the region of Southern Transdanubia, Hungary. The provenance of her mother, Agatha, is disputed. Margaret had one brother Edgar and one sister Christina. When her uncle, Saint Edward the Confessor, the French-speaking Anglo-Saxon King of England, died in 1066, she was living in England where her brother, Edgar Ætheling, had decided to make a claim to the vacant throne. According to tradition, after the conquest of the Kingdom of England by the Normans, the widowed Agatha decided to leave Northumberland with her children and return to the Continent. A storm drove their ship to Scotland, where they sought the protection of King Malcolm III. The spot where she is said to have landed is known today as St. Margaret's Hope, near the village of North Queensferry. Malcolm was probably a widower, and was no doubt attracted by the prospect of marrying one of the few rem...More: http://booksllc.net/?id=194380 ... Read more

11. Murasaki Shikibu, Her Diary and Poetic Memoirs: A Translation and Study (Princeton Library of Asian Translations)
by Murasaki Shikibu
 Paperback: 320 Pages (1985-04)
list price: US$16.95
Isbn: 0691014167
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A diary from ancient japan
Murasaki Shikibu was one of the most active and brilliant ladies at the Heian court. Her best-known work, "Genji monogatari", is a masterpiece of japanese litarature. But, apart from "The tale of Genji", she has left us her diary and poetic memoirs.In this "translation and study" (a text full of notes and commentary) professor Bowring, through shrewd remarks and penetrating analysis, shows us a world made of ceremonies, depicted screens, scented essences, poetry, love affairs, colours, silks and brocades, evoking a series of vivid and moving impressions. I like this book because it's a great mirror of a wonderful microcosm from a time now past. ... Read more

Paperback: 1120 Pages (1980)

Isbn: 0140443908
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13. Genji Monogatari
by Murasaki Shikibu
Paperback: 227 Pages (1973-06)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.50
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Asin: 0804810451
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14. Die Geschichte vom Prinzen Genji. 2 Bde.
by Murasaki Shikibu
Paperback: 1194 Pages (1995-01-01)
-- used & new: US$23.89
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Asin: 3458333592
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15. Genji monogatari (Shin Nihon koten bungaku taikei) (Japanese Edition)
by Murasaki Shikibu
Tankobon Hardcover: 482 Pages (1993)

Isbn: 4002400190
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16. The sacred tree,: Being the second part of "The tale of Genji",
by Murasaki Shikibu
 Unknown Binding: 304 Pages (1926)

Asin: B00087JU2E
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17. Journal (Les Journaux poetiques de l'epoque de Heian) (French Edition)
by Murasaki Shikibu
 Library Binding: 87 Pages (1978)
-- used & new: US$29.00
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Asin: 2716901074
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18. A wreath of cloud,: Being the third part of 'The tale of Genji',
by Murasaki Shikibu
 Hardcover: 312 Pages (1927)

Asin: B000858UKE
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19. Japanese Literature: Including Selections from Genji Monogatari and Classical Poetry and Drama of Japan
by Epiphanius Wilson, Murasaki Shikibu
Paperback: 312 Pages (2010-02-24)
list price: US$29.75 -- used & new: US$17.57
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Asin: 1145471242
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Editorial Review

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This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words.This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book. ... Read more

20. Le Dit du Genji, 2 volumes : Magnificence- Impermanence
by Murasaki Shikibu, René Sieffert
Paperback: 1311 Pages (1999-12-31)
-- used & new: US$99.99
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Asin: 2716902623
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