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Tales of Genji

Tales of Genji

3.6 KGS
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The Tales of Genji

Murasaki Shikibu’s 'The Tale of Genji' is a dramatic epic that encompasses a beautifully complex portrayal of 11th-century Japanese Imperial Court life. This 11th century body of work is universally considered a masterpiece in global literature and it is believed by many to be the world’s first novel.  Murasaki wrote the tale in 54 separate books.  This caused a sensation. Japanese literature had previously consisted mostly of collections of poetry written in the borrowed Kanji script of China. Prose had been limited to fairy tales and some memoirs written in the new phonetic syllabary known as kana. This was the first time a novel had been created with character development and a complex plot.

The novel starts with the birth of Genji, the 'Shining Prince', who is a son of the Emperor.  Genji’s mother was a favoured consort to the Emperor.  The jealousies of other women at court are so distressing to her that she falls sick and dies when Genji is still very young. The Emperor is devastated, and chooses a new lover that looks just like his former love.  'The Tales of Genji' is a story narrating Genji’s life: his growth, development, trials, tribulations and exhaustive amorous pursuits.

Set in the refined culture of Heian Period Japan, (794-1185), we read about the selfishly pampered aristocracy of this period in history.  The society depicted in the tale is one of an elite group of aristocrats interested only in their own leisure and with the Emperor at the epicentre of their lives. They were obsessed with rank and breeding and sensitive to the beauty of nature, musical pleasure, poetry, calligraphy and fashion. Heian courtiers knew and cared little of the world outside the capital.

The 'Tale of Genji' is certainly recognisable as a novel to modern eyes.  It continues to be widely read, and it has been translated into numerous languages. This book has had a tremendous influence on Japanese literature, and it continues to be cited as a major source of inspiration by prominent Japanese novelists today.



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  1. Just beautiful

    geraldine craddock (Submitted on 1st Jul 2016)

    i bought this for our bedroom and just love waking up to it each morning. The colours are vivid, yet tranquil. Every time i look at it, i see something a little different. Just perfect and i'm so glad I bought it. Delivery and service were really excellent too, my print arrived quickly and in perfect condition. Couldn't be happier

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