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Tale of Genji: A Reader's Guide by William…

Tale of Genji: A Reader's Guide (1983)

by William J. Puette

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902204,408 (3.79)1
Included in the guide are full explanations of each Genji chapter, maps, sketches, a biography of the Genji's author, and a description of court life in Kyoto.



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For a long time now, I have wanted to read ‘Tale of Genji,’ which claims to be the oldest novel in the world, having been written in 1008 by a noblewoman Murasaki Shibuku. The novel takes the reader to the Heian period in Japanese history, and follows the many passions and social engagements of Prince Genji, its main character. Because the novel is heavily footnoted with many of the colloquiums and customs of that era, the story, in my opinion, reads like a literary minefield. So to at least get the gist of the novel, I plodded on, even when at times, my comprehension was as 'murky as mud.' What I did love about this novel were the lyrical poems, which were presented throughout all of the chapters. As in typical Japanese fashion, many allusions might be drawn from these short poetic endeavors, and Murasaki has such a gift in drawing the reader toward experiencing the essence of each poetic moment. As is expected, feudal Japanese society was aptly portrayed as male-dominated and chauvinistic, where ladies-in-waiting and their parent or guardian sponsors, might jockey for upward mobility by attracting the attention of a prominent high-court male. The story presents the subtlety of Japanese culture, their love of the arts through painting and poetic expression, and perhaps the sexual prowess of Japanese high-court males of feudal Japan. Because it has had a profound impact on Japanese society throughout the ages, it is a book worth reading. However, like some things taken to completion, I will probably not pass this way again. ( )
  haymaai | Jun 14, 2018 |
A great help when trying to make your way through Tale of Genji ( )
  ForrestFamily | Mar 23, 2006 |
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Were it not for these old romances what would we do to beguile our idle hours? - Genji Monogatari, "Hotaru"
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