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Murasaki Shikibu (973–1014)

Author of The Tale of Genji

123+ Works 7,151 Members 73 Reviews 25 Favorited

About the Author

Little is known of Murasaki Shikibu's life beyond what she tells in her diary. Even the name by which she is known is a sobriquet. Among her ancestors were men of literary talent. She married and had a daughter but was widowed in 1001. In that same decade, she entered the service of an empress. Her show more literary reputation may have been a factor in her appointment, and she must have had substantial patronage, because the paper needed for writing a novel was rare and expensive. Her Tale of Genji (c.1000) is generally considered the greatest work in Japanese literature. Love would appear to be the main subject, but, in fact, the author probes human frailty, the evanescence of things, and spiritual concerns. Nothing is known of Lady Murasaki's life after 1013. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Murasaki Shikibu

The Tale of Genji (2015) — Author — 5,575 copies, 53 reviews
The Diary of Lady Murasaki (1008) 476 copies, 9 reviews
The Tale of Genji [part 1] (2000) 214 copies, 2 reviews
The Tale of Genji, Vol. I (1022) 172 copies, 2 reviews
The tale of Genji : abridged (2014) 140 copies, 1 review
The Tale of Genji, Vol. II (1022) 95 copies
The Sacred Tree (1959) 25 copies, 1 review
The Tale of Genji (Part I) (1955) 13 copies
Berättelsen om Genji : de tidiga åren (1986) 9 copies, 1 review
Het verhaal van Genji I (2020) 8 copies
Blue Trousers (1928) 6 copies
The Bridge of Dreams (1933) 4 copies
源氏物語 4 copies
源氏物語 (第6巻) (2004) 3 copies
源氏物語(三) (2000) 3 copies
源氏物語(一) (2000) 3 copies
源氏物語(四) (2000) 3 copies
源氏物語(二) (2000) 3 copies
Poèmes (1986) 2 copies
Het verhaal van Genji IV (2021) 2 copies
The Tale of Genji (2023) 1 copy
The Tale of Genji, book 1 of 3 (2017) — Author — 1 copy
Yuan shi wu yu (1996) 1 copy

Associated Works

One Hundred Poems from the Japanese (1955) — Contributor — 490 copies, 6 reviews
World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time (1998) — Contributor — 452 copies, 1 review
Women Poets of Japan (1977) — Contributor — 136 copies, 1 review
Lady Murasaki's Tale of Genji: The Manga Edition (2022) — Contributor — 21 copies, 2 reviews
Tale of Genji (1600) — Contributor — 14 copies
The Tale of Genji Symphonic Fantasy (2000) — Contributor — 2 copies


Common Knowledge



The Tale of Genji in Japanese Culture (December 2014)


Read 150 pages or so. Interesting from a historical perspective, but I think one would really have to be into 11th cent Japanese courtly romances to get through it all.
nngrey | 52 other reviews | Jan 15, 2024 |
This was a wonderful book. If you've been intimidated, don't hesitate to pick up this classic- it was surprisingly approachable (I read the Waley translation). Many thanks to my reading friend for buddy reading with me.
mmcrawford | 52 other reviews | Dec 5, 2023 |
Murasaki Shikibu, as a woman from tenth century Japan, is not a well-known figure beyond that she created what's known as the world's first novel. That said, her diary, instead of illuminating her, makes her more of an enigma than ever. "Murasaki Shikibu" isn't even her real name but her father's combined with her father's title. Still, what is revealed is an intriguing puzzle of a complex woman.

Muraskai's diary focuses on the other women at court, their dress, and their comings and goings. On the surface, some might think this information is frivolous, but Murasaki is clearly interested in a hierarchy that dictates her standing and her future. She is keenly aware of the fact that she is an older and educated woman and that she is expected to act a certain way, avoid certain behaviors that are deemed too flirtatious, and to avoid wearing too bright clothing, which is seen as more appropriate for younger women. However, when she switches to writing what feels like a letter to a confidante, she reveals a melancholy disposition who is nevertheless loyal to the young Her Majesty and her few friends, whom the editor Bowring insists are JUST friends, even when they compare themselves to mandarin ducks, the symbol of lovers.

The jewel of the book is Murasaki's diary. It's a pity it's so short. The introduction is helpful, but readers should be able to figure out most of what's going on without it. Meanwhile, the Appendices are dry and don't add anything. Overall, an interesting read.
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readerbug2 | 8 other reviews | Nov 16, 2023 |
While I was reading this book, I constantly forgot how early it was written. The culture described is so highly developed and the style in which the book (can I say novel?) is written, is too. Murasaki is a keen observer of the human mind. 'The Tale of the Genji' has a gentleness that I love. Tip: read it after Beowulf (written in the same time).
Twisk | 52 other reviews | Oct 2, 2023 |



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