Murasaki Shikibu: The Tale of Genji

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2003-11-10
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji, written in Japan in the early eleventh century, is acknowledged to be one of Japan's greatest literary achievements, and sometimes thought of as the world's first novel. It is also one of the earliest major works to be written by a woman. This introduction to the Genji sketches the cultural background, offers detailed analysis of the text, discusses matters of language and style and ends by tracing the history of its reception through nine centuries of cultural change. This book will be useful for survey courses in Japanese and World Literature. Because The Tale of Genji is so long, it is often not possible for students to read it in its entirety and this book will therefore be used not only as an introduction, but also as a guide through the difficult and convoluted plot.

Table of Contents

Genji chapter titles
Genealogical chart
Part I. The Cultural Background: 1. Politics
2. Murasaki Shikibu
3. Religion
4. Language
5. A grammar of sexual relations
6. History and fiction
Part II. The Tale of Genji: 7. Sexual politics (chapters 1-12)
8. Penance and restitution (chapters 12-21)
9. A prospect of flowers (chapters 22-33)
10. Dangerous obsessions (chapters 34-41)
11. A passion for self-destruction (chapters 42-54)
Part III. Language and style: 12. The narrator's presence
13. Kashiwagi's tortured mind
14. Equivocal narration
15. Poetry in prose
16. Translations
Part IV. Impact, Influence and Reception: 17. Early textual history
18. Murasaki in hell
19. Medieval commentaries
20. Tokugawa readings
21. Modern readings
Guide to further reading.

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