In the eleventh century Murasaki Shikibu, a lady in the Heian court of Japan, wrote the world's first novel. But The Tale of Genji is no mere artifact. It is, rather, a lively and astonishingly nuanced portrait of a refined society where every dalliance is an act of political consequence, a play of characters whose inner lives are as rich and changeable as those imagined by Proust. Chief of these is "the shining Genji," the son of the emperor and a man whose passionate impulses create great turmoil in his world and very nearly destroy him. This edition, recognized as the finest version in English, contains a dozen chapters from early in the book, carefully chosen by the translator, Edward G. Seidensticker, with an introduction explaining the selection. It is illustrated throughout with woodcuts from a seventeenth-century edition.
About the Author
"Lady Murasaki Shikibu, " born in 978, was a member of the famed Fujiwara clan-one of the most influential families of the Heian period. After the death of her husband, Shikibu immersed herself in Buddhism, and the religion's influence permeates her writing.
Dennis Washburn is Jane and Raphael Bernstein Professor in Asian Studies at Dartmouth College. He holds a Ph.D. from Yale University in Japanese language and literature. He lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.
"Not only the world's first real novel, but one of its greatest."
-- Donald Keene, Columbia University"A. triumph of authenticity and readability."
-- Washington Post Book World
"[Seidensticker's] translation has the ring of authority."
-- The New York Times Book Review