Other books byMurasaki Shikibu
Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji) is the world's earliest novel and the most famous work in Japan's literary history. It remains the finest portrayal of court life in the classical Heian period, some ten centuries ago. The author, Murasaki Shikibu (Lady Murasaki) was a member of the celebrated Fujiwara clan, which virtually created the history and culture of the Heian age. The novel has for its theme the many loves of the radiantly charming Prince Genji, son of the emperor and paragon of the ladies of the court. But its underlying motif is the fleeting nature of life in a transient world of beauty and grace, of love and enmity. It is an incredibly absorbing tale, distinguished by the author's amazing insight in her treatment of human personality and human events. Its diversity of characters and its subtle inquiries into the meaning of life make it one of the most significant and memorable of books. Some have compared it with Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, and certainly there is validity in the comparison. It most decidedly deserves its place among the world's foremost literary classics. Genji Monogatari, an immensely long novel, is presented here in an abridged translation by Kencho Suematsu, although of course other translations exist, the most famous being that by Arthur Waley. It is both interesting and valuable, however, to have this translation by the native Japanese who introduced the novel to the West almost a century ago.
The Diary of Lady Murasaki
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.
A String of Flowers, Untied . . .
Love Poems from The Tale of Genji
Expressions of passion and heartbreak, written by the court lady Murasaki Shikibu 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 wordplay between men and women of noble breeding, consumed by sexual desire and aesthetic longing. With plot synopses and annotations. Jane Reichhold, one of American's leading tanka poets, has translated Fumi Saito and Akiko Baba. Hatsue Kawamura is editor of The Tanka Journal of Tokyo.
The Take of Genji
Scenes from the Worlds First Novel
A lushly illustrated edition of a world classic The third in this series of illustrated Japanese classics,The Tale of Genjiagain combines Miyata's captivating paper cut-outs with a modern retelling of a vintage story. This well-known tale of the amorous adventures of Prince Genji is widely considered world literature's first novel, and with its precise and poetic prose, it is also considered one of its finest. Written with precision by a lady of the Japanese court, Genji's Don Juan-like clandestine rendezvous with lovers in their perfumed boudoirs or on mossy moonlit garden paths, continues to intrigue lovers of literature. What sets Genji apart from the typically carefree playboy is the intensity of his emotional attachment for each of his lovers. Long after an affair has ended, Genji continues to cherish the encounter. His is an age-old tale, as well as a poignant and brilliant portrait of Japan's ancient court life.