THE TALE OF GENJI (源氏物語, Genji monogatari) is a classic work
Japanese literature written by the noblewoman and lady-in-waiting
Murasaki Shikibu in the early years of the 11th century in
"concertina" or "orihon" style made of several sheets of paper pasted
together and folded alternately in one direction then the other
(Lyons, 2011 ), around the peak of the
Heian period . It is sometimes
called the world's first novel , the first modern novel , the first
psychological novel or the first novel still to be considered a
classic. Notably, the work also illustrates a unique depiction of the
lifestyles of high courtiers during the Heian period. While regarded
as a masterpiece, its precise classification and influence in both the
Western and Eastern canons has been a matter of debate.
* 1 Historical context
* 2 Authorship
* 3 Plot
* 4 Completion
* 5 Literary context
* 6 Structure
* 6.1 List of chapters
* 7 Manuscripts
* 8 Illustrated scroll
* 9 Modern readership
* 9.1 Japanese
* 9.2 English translations
* 9.2.1 Major English translations in chronological order
* 10 Reception and legacy
* 11 Films and adaptations
* 12 See also
* 13 Notes
* 14 Bibliography
* 15 External links
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji may have been written chapter by chapter in
Murasaki delivered the tale to aristocratic women
(the nyokan). It has many elements found in a modern novel: a central
character and a very large number of major and minor characters,
well-developed characterization of all the major players, a sequence
of events covering the central character's lifetime and beyond. The
work does not make use of a plot ; instead, events happen and
characters simply grow older. One remarkable feature of the Genji, and
of Murasaki's skill, is its internal consistency, despite a dramatis
personæ of some four hundred characters. For instance, all characters
age in step and the family and feudal relationships maintain general
One complication for readers and translators of the Genji is that
almost none of the characters in the original text are given explicit
names. The characters are instead referred to by their function or
role (e.g. Minister of the Left), an honorific (e.g. His Excellency),
or their relation to other characters (e.g. Heir Apparent), which
changes as the novel progresses. This lack of names stems from
Heian-era court manners that would have made it unacceptably familiar
and blunt to freely mention a person's given name. Modern readers and
translators have used various nicknames to keep track of the many
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji was written in an archaic court language that was
already unreadable a century after it was written. Thus, the Japanese
have been reading annotated and illustrated versions of the work since
as early as the 12th century. It was not until the early 20th century
that Genji was translated into modern Japanese, by the poet Akiko
Murasaki Shikibu , illustration by
Tosa Mitsuoki who did a
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji (17th century)
The debate over how much of Genji was actually written by Murasaki
Shikibu has gone on for centuries and is unlikely to ever be settled
unless some major archival discovery is made. It is generally accepted
that the tale was finished in its present form by 1021, when the
author of the
Sarashina Nikki wrote a diary entry about her joy at
acquiring a complete copy of the tale. She writes that there are over
50 chapters and mentions a character introduced at the end of the
work, so if other authors besides
Murasaki Shikibu did work on the
tale, the work was done very near to the time of her writing. Murasaki
Shikibu\'s own diary includes a reference to the tale, and indeed the
application to herself of the name 'Murasaki' in an allusion to the
main female character. That entry confirms that some if not all of the
diary was available in 1008 when internal evidence suggests
convincingly that the entry was written.
Murasaki is said to have written the character of Genji based on
the Minister on the Left at the time she was at court. Other
translators, such as Tyler, believe the character
Murasaki no Ue, whom
Genji marries, is based on
Murasaki Shikibu herself.
Yosano Akiko , the first author to make a modern Japanese translation
of Genji, believed that
Murasaki Shikibu had only written chapters 1
to 33, and that chapters 35 to 54 were written by her daughter Daini
no Sanmi. Other scholars have also doubted the authorship of chapters
42 to 54 (particularly 44, which contains rare examples of continuity
mistakes). According to Royall Tyler 's introduction to his English
translation of the work, recent computer analysis has turned up
"statistically significant" discrepancies of style between chapters
45–54 and the rest, and also among the early chapters.
Ch. 15 – 蓬生 YOMOGIU ("Waste of Weeds"). Scene from the
12th century illustrated handscroll Genji
Monogatari Emaki kept at the
Tokugawa Art Museum. Ch. 16 – 関屋 SEKIYA ("At The Pass").
Tokugawa Art Museum’s Genji
Monogatari Emaki. Ch. 37 –
横笛 YOKOBUE ("Flute"). Tokugawa Art Museum’s Genji Monogatari
Emaki. Ch. 39 – 夕霧 YūGIRI ("Evening Mist"). 12th century
Gotoh Museum handscroll Genji
Monogatari Emaki. Ch. 48 –
早蕨 SAWARABI ("Bracken Shoots"). Tokugawa Art Museum’s handscroll
Monogatari Emaki. Ch. 49 – 宿り木 YADORIGI ("Ivy").
Tokugawa Art Museum's Genji
The work recounts the life of
Hikaru Genji , or "Shining Genji", the
son of an ancient
Japanese emperor , known to readers as Emperor
Kiritsubo, and a low-ranking but beloved concubine called Lady
Kiritsubo. For political reasons, the emperor removes Genji from the
line of succession, demoting him to a commoner by giving him the
surname Minamoto , and he pursues a career as an imperial officer. The
tale concentrates on Genji's romantic life and describes the customs
of the aristocratic society of the time.
Genji's mother dies when he is three years old, and the Emperor
cannot forget her. The Emperor Kiritsubo then hears of a woman (Lady
Fujitsubo ), formerly a princess of the preceding emperor, who
resembles his deceased concubine, and later she becomes one of his
wives. Genji loves her first as a stepmother, but later as a woman,
and they fall in love with each other. Genji is frustrated by his
forbidden love for the
Lady Fujitsubo and is on bad terms with his
Aoi no Ue ). He engages in a series of unfulfilling love affairs
with other women, but in most cases his advances are rebuffed, his
lover dies suddenly during the affair, or he becomes bored with his
Genji visits Kitayama, the northern rural hilly area of Kyoto, where
he finds a beautiful ten-year-old girl. He is fascinated by this
little girl (
Murasaki ), and discovers that she is a niece of the Lady
Fujitsubo. Finally he kidnaps her, brings her to his own palace and
educates her to be his ideal lady — that is, like the Lady
Fujitsubo. During this time Genji also meets the Lady Fujitsubo
secretly, and she bears his son, Reizei. Everyone except the two
lovers believes the father of the child is the Emperor Kiritsubo.
Later, the boy becomes the
Crown Prince and
Lady Fujitsubo becomes the
Empress, but Genji and
Lady Fujitsubo swear to keep their secret.
Genji and his wife, Lady Aoi, reconcile. She gives birth to a son but
dies soon after. Genji is sorrowful, but finds consolation in
Murasaki, whom he marries. Genji's father, the Emperor Kiritsubo,
dies. He is succeeded by his son Suzaku, whose mother (Kokiden),
together with Kiritsubo's political enemies, takes power in the court.
Then another of Genji's secret love affairs is exposed: Genji and a
concubine of the Emperor Suzaku are discovered when they meet in
secret. The Emperor Suzaku confides his personal amusement at Genji's
exploits with the woman (Oborozukiyo), but is duty-bound to punish his
half-brother. He exiles Genji to the town of Suma in rural Harima
Province (now part of
Hyōgo Prefecture ). There, a prosperous
man known as the Akashi Novice (because he is from Akashi in Settsu
Province ) entertains Genji, and Genji has a love affair with Akashi's
daughter. She gives birth to Genji's only daughter, who will later
become the Empress.
In the capital, the Emperor Suzaku is troubled by dreams of his late
father, Kiritsubo, and something begins to affect his eyes. Meanwhile,
his mother, Kokiden, grows ill, which weakens her powerful sway over
the throne. Thus the Emperor orders Genji pardoned, and he returns to
Kyoto. His son by Lady Fujitsubo, Reizei, becomes the emperor. The new
Emperor Reizei knows Genji is his real father, and raises Genji's rank
to the highest possible.
However, when Genji turns 40 years old, his life begins to decline.
His political status does not change, but his love and emotional life
are slowly damaged. He marries another wife, the Third Princess (known
as Onna san no miya in the Seidensticker version, or Nyōsan in
Waley's). Genji's nephew, Kashiwagi, later forces himself on the Third
Princess, and she bears Kaoru (who, in a similar situation to that of
Reizei, is legally known as the son of Genji). Genji's new marriage
changes his relationship with Murasaki, who becomes a nun (bikuni ).
Murasaki dies. In the following chapter, Maboroshi
("Illusion"), Genji contemplates how fleeting life is. Immediately
after Maboroshi, there is a chapter entitled Kumogakure ("Vanished
into the Clouds"), which is left blank, but implies the death of
The rest of the work is known as the "Uji Chapters". These chapters
follow Kaoru and his best friend, Niou. Niou is an imperial prince,
the son of Genji's daughter, the current Empress now that Reizei has
abdicated the throne, while Kaoru is known to the world as Genji's son
but is in fact fathered by Genji's nephew. The chapters involve Kaoru
and Niou's rivalry over several daughters of an imperial prince who
lives in Uji , a place some distance away from the capital. The tale
ends abruptly, with Kaoru wondering if Niou is hiding the lady the
former loves away from him. Kaoru has sometimes been called the first
anti-hero in literature.
The tale has an abrupt ending. Opinions vary on whether the ending
was the intended ending of the author.
Arthur Waley , who made the
first English translation of the whole of The Tale of Genji, believed
that the work as we have it was finished.
Ivan Morris , author of The
World of the Shining Prince, believed that it was not complete, with
later chapters missing.
Edward Seidensticker , who made the second
translation of the Genji, believed that it was not finished, and that
Murasaki Shikibu would not have had a planned story structure with an
"ending", and would simply have gone on writing as long as she could.
Because it was written to entertain the Japanese court of the
eleventh century, the work presents many difficulties to modern
readers. First and foremost, Murasaki's language,
Heian period court
Japanese, was highly inflected and had very complex grammar. Another
problem is that naming people was considered rude in Heian court
society, so none of the characters are named within the work; instead,
the narrator refers to men often by their rank or their station in
life, and to women often by the color of their clothing, or by the
words used at a meeting, or by the rank of a prominent male relative.
This results in different appellations for the same character
depending on the chapter.
Another aspect of the language is the importance of using poetry in
conversations. Modifying or rephrasing a classic poem according to the
current situation was expected behavior in Heian court life, and often
served to communicate thinly veiled allusions. The poems in the Genji
are often in the classic Japanese tanka form. Many of the poems were
well known to the intended audience, so usually only the first few
lines are given and the reader is supposed to complete the thought
themselves, much like today we could say "when in Rome ..." and leave
the rest of the saying ("... do as the Romans do") unspoken.
As with most Heian literature, the Genji was probably written mostly
(or perhaps entirely) in kana (Japanese phonetic script) and not in
Chinese characters because it was written by a woman for a female
audience. Writing in Chinese characters was at the time a masculine
pursuit; women were generally discreet when using Chinese symbols,
confining themselves mostly to native Japanese words (yamato kotoba ).
Outside of vocabulary related to politics and Buddhism, the Genji
contains remarkably few Chinese loan words (kango ). This has the
effect of giving the story a very even, smooth flow. However, it also
introduces confusion: there are a number of homophones (words with the
same pronunciation but different meanings), and for modern readers,
context is not always sufficient to determine which meaning was
The novel is traditionally divided in three parts, the first two
dealing with the life of Genji, and the last dealing with the early
years of two of Genji's prominent descendants, Niou and Kaoru. There
are also several short transitional chapters which are usually grouped
separately and whose authorship is sometimes questioned.
* Genji's rise and fall
* Youth, chapters 1–33: Love, romance, and exile
* Success and setbacks, chapters 34–41: A taste of power and the
death of his beloved wife
* The transition (chapters 42–44): Very short episodes following
* Uji, chapters 45–54: Genji's official and secret descendants,
Niou and Kaoru
The 54th and last chapter "The Floating Bridge of Dreams" is
sometimes argued to be a separate part from the Uji part by modern
scholars. It seems to continue the story from the previous chapters,
but has an unusually abstract chapter title. It is the only chapter
whose title has no clear reference within the text, but this may be
because the chapter is unfinished. This question is more difficult
because we do not know exactly when the chapters acquired their
LIST OF CHAPTERS
The English translations here are taken from the
Arthur Waley , the
Edward Seidensticker , the
Royall Tyler (academic) , and the Dennis
Washburn translations. The first column refers to Waley's translation,
the second to Seidensticker's, the third to Tyler's, and the fourth to
Washburn's. It is not known for certain when the chapters acquired
their titles. Early mentions of the Tale refer to chapter numbers, or
contain alternate titles for some of the chapters. This may suggest
that the titles were added later. The titles are largely derived from
poetry that is quoted within the text, or allusions to various
characters. Ch. 5 — 若紫 WAKAMURASAKI ("Young Murasaki").
Tosa Mitsuoki, 1617–91. Ch. 20 – 朝顔 ASAGAO ("The
Bluebell"). Tosa Mitsuoki. Ch. 42 – 匂宮 NIō NO MIYA ("The
Perfumed Prince"). Tosa Mitsuoki. Ch. 50 – 東屋 AZUMAYA
("Eastern Cottage"). 12th century
Tokugawa Art Museum handscroll.
"The Paulownia Court"
"The Paulownia Pavilion"
"The Lady of the Paulownia-Courtyard Chambers"
"The Shell of the Locust"
"The Cicada Shell"
"A Molted Cicada Shell"
"The Twilight Beauty"
"The Lady of the Evening Faces"
"Little Purple Gromwell"
Momiji no Ga (紅葉賀)
"The Festival of Red Leaves"
"An Autumn Excursion"
"Beneath the Autumn Leaves"
"An Imperial Celebration of Autumn Foliages"
Hana no En (花宴)
"The Flower Feast"
"The Festival of the Cherry Blossoms"
"Under the Cherry Blossoms"
"A Banquet Celebrating Cherry Blossoms"
"Leaves of Wild Ginger"
"The Sacred Tree"
"The Green Branch"
"A Branch of Sacred Evergreens"
Hana Chiru Sato (花散里)
"The Village of Falling Flowers"
"The Orange Blossoms"
"The Lady at the Villa of Scattering Orange Blossoms"
"Exile at Suma"
"Exile to Suma"
"The Lady at Akashi"
"The Flood Gauge"
"The Pilgrimage to Sumiyoshi"
"The Palace in the Tangled Woods"
"The Wormwood Patch"
"A Waste of Weeds"
"A Ruined Villa of Tangled Gardens"
"A Meeting at the Frontier"
"At the Pass"
"The Barrier Gate"
E Awase (絵合)
"The Picture Competition"
"A Picture Contest"
"The Picture Contest"
"A Contest of Illustrations"
"The Wind in the Pine-Trees"
"The Wind in the Pines"
"Wind in the Pines"
"A Wreath of Cloud"
"A Rack of Clouds"
"Wisps of Cloud"
"A Thin Veil of Clouds"
"The Morning Glory"
"Maidens of the Dance"
"The Jewelled Chaplet"
"The Tendril Wreath"
"A Lovely Garland"
"The First Song of the Year"
"The First Warbler"
"The Warbler's First Song"
"First Song of Spring"
"A Bed of Carnations"
"An Autumn Tempest"
"The Royal Visit"
"The Royal Outing"
"The Imperial Progress"
"An Imperial Excursion"
"The Cypress Pillar"
"The Handsome Pillar"
"A Beloved Pillar of Cypress"
"The Spray of Plum-Blossom"
"A Branch of Plum"
"The Plum Tree Branch"
"A Branch of Plum"
Fuji no Uraba (藤裏葉)
"Fuji no Uraba"
"New Wisteria Leaves"
"Shoots of Wisteria Leaves"
Wakana: Jō (若菜上)
"Wakana, Part I"
"New Herbs, Part I"
"Spring Shoots I"
"Early Spring Genesis: Part 1"
Wakana: Ge (若菜下)
"Wakana, Part II"
"New Herbs, Part II"
"Spring Shoots II"
"Early Spring Genesis: Part 2"
"The Oak Tree"
"The Transverse Flute"
"The Bell Cricket"
"Rites of Sacred Law"
"Vanished into the Clouds"
Niō Miya (匂宮)
"His Perfumed Highness"
"The Perfumed Prince"
"The Fragrant Prince"
"The Rose Plum"
"Red Plum Blossoms"
"The Bridge Maiden"
"The Lady at the Bridge"
"The Maiden of the Bridge"
"The Divine Princess at Uji Bridge"
Shī ga Moto (椎本)
"At the Foot of the Oak-Tree"
"Beneath the Oak"
"At the Foot of the Oak Tree"
"A Bowknot Tied in Maiden's Loops"
"Early Fiddlehead Greens"
"Trees Encoiled in Vines of Ivy"
"The Eastern House"
"The Eastern Cottage"
"A Hut in the Eastern Provinces"
"A Boat upon the Waters"
"A Drifting Boat"
"A Boat Cast Adrift"
"The Drake Fly"
"The Writing Practice"
Yume no Ukihashi (夢浮橋)
"The Bridge of Dreams"
"The Floating Bridge of Dreams"
"A Floating Bridge in a Dream"
The additional chapter between 41 and 42 in some manuscripts is
called 雲隠 (Kumogakure) which means "Vanished into the Clouds" —
the chapter is a title only, and is probably intended to evoke Genji's
death. Some scholars have posited the existence of a chapter between 1
and 2 which is now lost, which would have introduced some characters
that (as it stands now) appear very abruptly.
The Waley translation completely omits the 38th chapter.
Later authors have composed additional chapters, most often either
between 41 and 42, or after the end.
The original manuscript written by
Murasaki Shikibu no longer exists.
Numerous copies, totaling around 300 according to Ikeda Kikan, exist
with differences between each. It is thought that Shikibu often went
back and edited early manuscripts introducing discrepancies with
The various manuscripts are classified into three categories:
* Kawachibon (河内本)
* Aobyōshibon (青表紙本)
* Beppon (別本)
In the 13th century, two major attempts by Minamoto no Chikayuki and
Fujiwara Teika were made to edit and revise the differing manuscripts.
The Chikayuki manuscript is known as the Kawachibon; edits were many
beginning in 1236 and completing in 1255. The Teika manuscript is
known as the Aobyōshibon; its edits are more conservative and thought
to better represent the original. These two manuscripts were used as
the basis for many future copies.
The Beppon category represents all other manuscripts not belonging to
either Kawachibon or Aobyōshibon. This includes older but incomplete
manuscripts, mixed manuscripts derived from both Kawachibon and
Aobyōshibon, and commentaries.
On March 10, 2008, it was announced that a late Kamakura period
manuscript was found in Kyōto. It is the sixth chapter
"Suetsumuhana" and is 65 pages in length. Most remaining manuscripts
are based on copies of the Teika manuscript which introduced revisions
in the original. This newly discovered manuscript belongs to a
different lineage and was not influenced by Teika. Professor Yamamoto
Tokurō, who examined the manuscript said, "This is a precious
discovery as Kamakura manuscripts are so rare." Professor Katō
Yōsuke said, "This is an important discovery as it asserts that
non-Teika manuscripts were being read during the Kamakura period."
On October 29, 2008, Konan Women\'s University announced that a
mid-Kamakura period manuscript was found. It is the 32nd chapter,
Umegae, and is recognized as the oldest extant copy of this chapter
dating between 1240–80. This beppon manuscript is 74 pages in length
and differs from Aobyōshi manuscripts in at least four places,
raising the "possibility that the contents may be closer to the
Murasaki Shikibu original manuscript".
Late 16th or early 17th century hanging scroll in ink and gold
leaf illustrating a scene from Genji.
A twelfth-century scroll, the Genji
Monogatari Emaki , contains
illustrated scenes from the Genji together with handwritten sōgana
text. This scroll is the earliest extant example of a Japanese
"picture scroll": collected illustrations and calligraphy of a single
work. The original scroll is believed to have comprised 10-20 rolls
and covered all 54 chapters. The extant pieces include only 19
illustrations and 65 pages of text, plus nine pages of fragments. This
is estimated at roughly 15% of the envisioned original. The Tokugawa
Art Museum in
Nagoya has three of the scrolls handed down in the Owari
branch of the
Tokugawa clan and one scroll held by the Hachisuka
family is now in the
Gotoh Museum in Tokyo. The scrolls are designated
National Treasures of Japan
National Treasures of Japan . The scrolls are so fragile that they
normally are not shown in public. The original scrolls in the Tokugawa
Museum were shown from November 21 to November 29 in 2009. Since
Heisei 13, they have been displayed in the Tokugawa Museum always for
around one week in November. An oversize English photoreproduction and
translation was printed in limited edition by
(Tale of Genji Scroll, ISBN 0-87011-131-0 ).
Other notable versions are by
Tosa Mitsuoki , who lived from 1617 to
1691. His paintings are closely based on Heian style from the existing
scrolls from the 12th century and are fully complete. The tale was
also a popular theme in
Ukiyo-e prints from the
Edo period .
Pages from the illustrated handscroll from the 12th century
The complexities of the style mentioned in the previous section make
it unreadable by the average Japanese person without dedicated study
of the language of the tale. Therefore, translations into modern
Japanese and other languages solve these problems by modernizing the
language, unfortunately losing some of the meaning, and by giving
names to the characters, usually the traditional names used by
academics. This gives rise to anachronisms ; for instance Genji's
first wife is named Aoi because she is known as the lady of the Aoi
chapter, in which she dies.
Both scholars and writers have tried translating it. The first
translation into modern Japanese was made by the poet
Yosano Akiko .
Other known translations were done by the novelists Jun\'ichirō
Fumiko Enchi .
Because of the cultural difference, reading an annotated version of
the Genji is quite common, even among Japanese. There are several
annotated versions by novelists, including
Seiko Tanabe , Jakucho
Setouchi and Osamu Hashimoto. Many works, including a manga series
and different television dramas, are derived from The Tale of Genji.
There have been at least five manga adaptations of the Genji. A manga
Waki Yamato , Asakiyumemishi (
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji in
English), is widely read among Japanese youth, and another version ,
by Miyako Maki, won the Shogakukan
Manga Award in 1989.
Most Japanese high-school students read selections of the Genji (the
original, not a translation) in their Japanese classes.
The first partial translation of Genji
Monogatari into English was by
Suematsu Kenchō , published in 1882.
Arthur Waley published a
six-volume translation of all but one chapter, with the first volume
published in 1921 and the last in 1933. In 1976, Edward Seidensticker
published the first complete translation into English, made using a
self-consciously "stricter" approach with regards to content if not
form. The English translation published in 2001 by Royall Tyler aims
at fidelity in content and form to the original text. The most
recently written ("Genji and the Luck of the Sea") dates from 2007.
Its initial version has been extensively revised, retitled, and
updated for this publication.
WorldCat identifies 88 editions of this book. The major
translations into English are each slightly different, mirroring the
personal choices of the translator and the period in which the
translation was made. Each version has its merits, its detractors and
its advocates, and each is distinguished by the name of the
translator. For example, the version translated by
Arthur Waley would
typically be referred to as "the Waley Genji".
Major English Translations In Chronological Order
* The Suematsu Genji (1882) — Suematsu's Genji was the first
translation into English, but is considered of poor quality and is not
often read today. Significantly, only a few chapters were completed.
* The Waley Genji (1921–1933) — Waley's Genji is considered a
great achievement for his time, although some purists have criticized
Waley's changes to the original. Others have criticized as
overly-free the manner in which Waley translated the original text.
Regardless, it continues to be well-appreciated and widely read today.
When the Waley Genji was first published, it was eagerly received.
For example, Time explained that "the reviewers' floundering tributes
indicate something of its variegated appeal. In limpid prose The Tale
combines curiously modern social satire with great charm of narrative.
Translator Waley has done service to literature in salvaging to the
Occident this masterpiece of the Orient."
* The Seidensticker Genji (1976) — Seidensticker's Genji is an
attempt to correct what were perceived to have been Waley's failings
without necessarily making his translation obsolete. Seidensticker
hews more closely to the original text, but in the interests of
readability, he takes some liberties. For example, he identifies the
cast of characters by name so that the narrative can be more easily
followed by a broad-based audience of Western readers. (In 2008, a
Braille version of the Seidensticker Genji was completed.
Braille edition was the product of five Japanese housewives from
Setagaya, Tokyo , working voluntarily for 5 years and was subsequently
donated to the
Braille Library (日本点字図書館) and the
Library of Congress
Library of Congress . It is also available for download. )
* The McCullough Genji (1994) — An abridgement.
* The Tyler Genji (2001) — Tyler's Genji contains more extensive
explanatory footnotes and commentary than the previous translations,
describing the numerous poetical allusions and cultural aspects of the
tale. Tyler consciously attempted to mimic the original style in ways
that the previous translations did not. For example, this version does
not use names for most characters, identifying them instead by their
titles in a manner which was conventional in the context of the 11th
century original text. Tyler's version "makes a special virtue of
attending to a certain ceremonial indirectness in the way the
characters address one another. The great temptation for a translator
is to say the unsaid things, and Tyler never gives in to it." This
has been praised by critics as "preserving more of what once seemed
unfamiliar or strange to English readers", as understanding the
culture of Lady Murasaki's time is arguably a chief reason for reading
* The Washburn Genji (2015) — Dennis Washburn's Genji separates
the poems from the prose and puts interior thoughts in italics. The
translation is received slightly more controversially than Tyler's.
RECEPTION AND LEGACY
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji is an important work of Japanese literature, and
modern authors have cited it as inspiration, such as Jorge Luis Borges
who said of it, "The Tale of Genji, as translated by
Arthur Waley , is
written with an almost miraculous naturalness, and what interests us
is not the exoticism—the horrible word—but rather the human
passions of the novel. Such interest is just: Murasaki's work is what
one would quite precisely call a psychological novel ... I dare to
recommend this book to those who read me. The English translation that
has inspired this brief insufficient note is called The Tale of
Genji." It is noted for its internal consistency, psychological
depiction, and characterization. The novelist
Yasunari Kawabata said
Nobel Prize acceptance speech: "
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji in particular
is the highest pinnacle of Japanese literature. Even down to our day
there has not been a piece of fiction to compare with it." 2000
yen note with
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji and
Murasaki Shikibu on the right
The Genji is also often referred to as "the first novel", though
there is considerable debate over this — some of the debate
involving whether Genji can even be considered a "novel". Some
consider the psychological insight, complexity and unity of the work
to qualify it for "novel" status while simultaneously disqualifying
earlier works of prose fiction. Others see these arguments as
subjective and unconvincing.
Related claims, perhaps in an attempt to sidestep these debates, are
that Genji is the "first psychological novel" or "historical novel ",
"the first novel still considered to be a classic" or other more
qualified terms. However, critics have almost consistently described
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji as the oldest, first, and/or greatest novel in
Japanese literature, though enthusiastic proponents may have later
neglected the qualifying category of in Japanese literature, leading
to the debates over the book's place in world literature. Even in
Japan, the Tale of Genji is not universally embraced; the lesser known
Monogatari has been proposed as the "world's first
full-length novel", even though its author is unknown. Despite these
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji enjoys solid respect among the works of
literature, and its influence on
Japanese literature has been compared
to that of
Philip Sidney 's Arcadia on English literature.
The novel and other works by Lady
Murasaki are staple reading
material in the curricula of Japanese schools. The Bank of Japan
issued the 2000 Yen banknote in her honor, featuring a scene from the
novel based on the 12th century illustrated handscroll.
FILMS AND ADAPTATIONS
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji has been translated into cinematic form several
times: first in 1951 by director
Kōzaburō Yoshimura , in 1966 by
Kon Ichikawa , and an anime film in 1987 by director
Gisaburō Sugii . Sugii's film is not a complete version and basically
covers the first 12 chapters, while adding in some psychological
motivation that is not explicit in the novel.
An anime television series was made in 2009 by director Osamu Dezaki
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji has been adapted into an opera by
Miki Minoru ,
composed during 1999 and first performed the following year at the
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis , with original libretto by Colin Graham
(in English ), later translated into Japanese by the composer .
Portuguese film director Paulo Rocha made a loose film adaptation of
Monogatari adapted to the 1980s Portuguese context in 1987,
O Desejado ou As Montanhas da Lua ("The Desired One or the Mountains
of the Moon").
* Novels portal
List of The Tale of Genji characters
The Tale of Genji Museum
* Ghost stories
* ^ Lyons, Martyn (2011). Books: A Living History. Los Angeles: J.
Paul Getty Museum. p. 30. access-date= requires url= (help )
Birmingham Museum of Art (2010).
Birmingham Museum of Art :
guide to the collection. : Birmingham Museum of Art. p. 49. ISBN
* ^ A B ""The Tale of Genji" - Playboy of the eastern world". The
Economist . Retrieved January 9, 2014.
* ^ Yosano, Akiko
* ^ The Diary of Lady Murasaki, ed.
Richard Bowring , Penguin
Classics 2005, p.31, note 41. In his introduction to the text, Bowring
discusses its dating which, in any case, is generally accepted by most
authorities. Royall Tyler, in his edition of the Tale of Genji cited
below, also draws attention to the entry in
Murasaki Shikibu's diary:
see the Penguin Books edition, 2003, Introduction, p.xvii
* ^ A B C D Shikibu, Murasaki; Tyler, Royall (2002). The Tale of
* ^ Seidensticker (1976: xi)
* ^ Martin, Gary. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". The Phrase
Finder. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
* ^ Yamagishi (1958: 14)
* ^ Yamagishi (1958: 14–6)
* ^ Nihon Koten Bungaku Daijiten (1986: 621–2)
* ^ "鎌倉後期の源氏物語写本見つかる" (in Janapese).
Sankei News. 2008-03-10. Archived from the original on 2008-03-14.
Retrieved 2008-03-11. CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link )
(in Janapese). Yomiuri. 2008-03-10. Archived from the original on
2008-03-14. Retrieved 2008-03-11. CS1 maint: Unrecognized language
* ^ A B
(in Janapese). Yomiuri. 2008-10-29. Archived from the original on
2008-11-01. Retrieved 2008-10-29. CS1 maint: Unrecognized language
(in Janapese). Sankei News. 2008-10-29. Archived from the original on
August 2, 2009. Retrieved 2008-10-29. CS1 maint: Unrecognized language
(in Janapese). Mainichi. 2008-10-29. Retrieved 2008-10-29. CS1 maint:
Unrecognized language (link )
* ^ Walker, James. Big in Japan: "Jakucho Setouchi: Nun re-writes
The Tale of Genji", Archived April 26, 2009, at the
Wayback Machine .
Metropolis. No. 324; Spaeth, Anthony. "Old-Fashioned lover", Time.
December 17, 2001.
* ^ Richard Gunde (2004-04-27). "Genji in Graphic Detail: Manga
Versions of the Tale of Genji". UCLA Asia Institute. Retrieved
* ^ 小学館漫画賞：歴代受賞者 (IN JAPANESE). SHOGAKUKAN.
* ^ Shikibu, Murasaki; Waley, Arthur (1960). The Tale of Genji.
Modern Library. Vintage.
* ^ Shikibu, Murasaki; Seidensticker, Edward (1976). The Tale of
* ^ Tyler, Royall (2009). The Disaster of the Third Princess:
Essays on the tale of Genji. National Library of Australia.
* ^ "Genji Finished", Time. July 3, 1933.
* ^ Takatsuka, Masanori. (1970). Brief remarks on some
mistranslations in Arthur Waley\'s Tale of Genji
* ^ A B "Coming to Terms with the Alien".
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* ^ "In All Dignity," Time. August 27, 1928.
* ^ "
Braille version of
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji completed in 1,000th year
2008" (in Japanese).
Yomiuri Shimbun . Archived from the original on
2008-08-25. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
* ^ Wood, Michael. "A Distant Mirror", Time. March 11, 2002.
* ^ Ian Buruma, "The Sensualist," New Yorker, July 20, 2015, p. 67.
* ^ "
The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji (Tuttle Classics)". Amazon. p. Editorial
Reviews. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
* ^ Tyler, Royall (2003). The Tale of Genji.
Penguin Classics . pp.
i–ii & xii. ISBN 0-14-243714-X .
* ^ Ivan Morris, The World of the Shining Prince (1964), p.277
* ^ Tyler, Royall (2003). The Tale of Genji.
Penguin Classics . p.
xxvi. ISBN 0-14-243714-X .
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* ^ Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai (1970), 37.
* ^ Kato (1979), p.160, 163.
O Desejado ou As Montanhas da Lua (1987), on the website on
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