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Genji Monogatari


15 Apr 2002
Murasaki Shikibu, the first female novelist in the world, wrote about her life in Heian period Japan. Heian period is about 900 AD to 1000 AD (I'm fudgin by a few years both ways).

Now, the interesting thing besides 2 famous translators having a fit over translating into realistic English is that the story itself is shrowded in mystery.

Genji is another way to read the name, Minamoto. During this period the Minamoto clan was at a peak while the famous Fujiwara clan was temporarly out of power.

It is believed that Murasaki Shikibu didn't write the whole story. At the time stories were hand re-written like Bibles were in Europe during the same period. It is also belived that a famous Fujiwara clan member also slightly changed the story along with a mysterious ghost writer(s).

Also, it seems that another story found it's way into Genji Monogatari.

If the story were to reduced to it's original it would possibly be about a quarter of it's current content.

The big shock is that the story isn't really about love BUT a story about a cursed love, as in cursing people who are involved along the vodoo doll type.

Of course, I didn't figure this out on my own but rather watch a show on TV about it but ... I'll plug in my share of thoughts.

The TV show relied on experts to verify the above. But in my opinion, I agree.
The business with cursing women was something of a oh really type of thing when I first read the story, but after going ghost hunting in Japan and hundreds of hours of ghost show TV this started to bug me. Tonights TV show just made what was bugging me clear. The story has to be really about vodoo curses! It just makes sense.

Also, the part about combining stories is interesting because the current Genji Monogatari has a strange flow to it. I've always assigned this to the translation process but Sidenstickler and Wailey both mentioned the fun of translating this story and how it seemed that certain chapters just didn't gist with the whole as being out of place or order! Ah ha! I wonder if they knew that Murasaki wasn't the entire author?

The length has always amazed me since after reading other monogatari of the period I thought it was truly amazing that a women had written close to 10 times of her male conterparts. Heike Monogatari about the Heike clan which was in power right before the Heian period is only like 300 pages max compared to the Genji Monogatari which is about 1,300.

hmmm ... women a ghostly powers is just too scary for me!

is very interesting reading someone`s opinion, sure a culturally closer opinion that, finished the book, may I have. And I liked a lot the confrontation with the vodoo rituals and curse :D

It seems like Genji Monogatari is the greatest book Japanese have written. To me it is like those pornographic tales, just that the characters in Genji Monogatari are all royal.
Also it is strange that a maid of palace can write all this things that seems like only men will write!
Re: hahaaha

Originally posted by hua he
It seems like Genji Monogatari is the greatest book Japanese have written. To me it is like those pornographic tales, just that the characters in Genji Monogatari are all royal.

It is so great it has influenceed all the arts and daily life in Japan ever since it was written, till the creation of weekly magazines, hentai and soap lands.

Just kidding here :D
Yes, Murasaki Shikibu is Japan's (500 years senior's) Shakespeare ! If you've read the manga, you've probably recognised my avatar.
A while ago Genji (a computer game on the ps2) got released.And I started to look for information about Genji and ended up on the pages that are posted.I indeed found that it's another name for Minamoto, but I didn't know there was a book called Genji :) It looks interesting, I'll have to look into it soon 👍
Wow, talk about bringing an old thread back to life. In the 4 years since the original post a 3rd English translation of Genji Monogatari has been released, by Royall Tyler.
I read the Seidensticker translation, but only 17 of the 53 chapters.

Something I noticed in the original post was that it was said that the Minamoto were on the rise at the time Genji was written. I was under the impression that that didn't happen until around the time of the Heike Monogatari, which was written some 100 years later. Of course, now that I think about it, Heike was being passed around in oral tradition before it was written, so I could be mistaken. Did the Heike really take place during the time Genji was being written?
The Tale of Genji is though to be set in the early 10th century (it was written about the year 1000), whereas the Tale of The Heike describes historical events that took place between 1160 and 1185.

The Tale of the Heike wasn't written down for more than a century, so there is at least 300 years seperating the two written stories.

The character Genji in Tale of Genji is not related to the warrior Genji (or Minamoto) clan in the Tale of the Heike though they do share the same name. The warrior Minamoto clan trace their roots back to the Emporer Seiwa (ruled 858 - 876 AD), so they were beginning to rise to power during the period Tale of Genji is set, though they have no relation to the story.
The Tale of Genji

I found this to be an absolutely riviting story! I was not bored at all... I read the new Royall Tyler unabridged version (which is over 1000 pages and could be used for lifting weights). It was such a good read that I had to practically tear myself away for work and sleep! (Finished it in less than a month!)
If you were disappointed in the Genji tale please specify which version/translation you read and if you made it to the utter end. Thank you.
I can highly recommend the English Royall Tyler version! I am still working on learning to read japanese... so one of these days I'll dig up this thread and post my thoughts on the orginal japanese version. 👍
When reading the story the only thing that I can find that makes Genji so admired by all is the fact that he is handsome. What else is there that makes Genji see, so close to the Male perfection?
He's great at music, dance, poetry, the classics, and art, too, I believe. Also he's well-mannered.
At the risk of getting the heck flamed out of me, I have to admit that I really don't like The Tale of Genji all that much. It is, essentially, a big soap-opera written for Heian court women. I find claims that it is insightful into human nature or an examination of the human condition somewhat dubious, but hey, that's just my opinion.

Some people consider The Tale of Genji to be the Japanese national epic, but I have a serious bone to pick with that.

I do not believe Genji can be compared to the national epics of other cultures, such as The Iliad, Le Chanson de Roland, or The Niebelungenlied, because it doesn't possess the same sort of character as those epics. Indeed, Genji isn't even a poem, while the others are.

My knowledge of Japanese literature, however, is quite limited. I'd like to believe that the Japanese would have a national epic, but what it would be, I don't know.

All-in-all, The Tale of Genji may be a fascinating look into Heian court-life, but I cannot help but question it's validity as an epic and seminal work in Japanese literature. It is simply the earliest surviving work that we know of, so far as I can tell.
Well, I guess. But he sure did PO a few women with his antics, like Aoi (his first wife) and the Rokujô Lady.
I am happy to be alive now after 1 hour phone conversation without a word with my Lady Rokujo when I said I could not meet her expectation.
I've bought it a couple of months ago, but I haven't had time to read it yet. Will start one of these weeks with it, I hope.

The story has a lot of locations in the area where I am living in, so that makes it extra interesting for me.
I wanted to read that for a long time..But couldn't find it anywhere...:(
Can someone tell me the author or some more details about that book? Maybe that will help me ^^
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