The Tale of Genji: A Novel in Six Parts by Lady Murasaki (A Modern Library Giant)


The Tale of Genji is a classic work of Japanese literature written by the Japanese noblewoman and lady-in-waiting Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th century. Called the world’s first novel, the first modern novel, the first psychological novel or the first novel still to be considered a classic. Notably, the novel also illustrates a unique depiction of the livelihoods of high courtiers during the Heian period. It has many elements found in a modern novel: a central character and a very large number of major and minor characters, well-developed characterization of all the major players, a sequence of events covering the central character’s lifetime and beyond. The work does not make use of a plot; instead, events happen and characters evolve simply by growing older. One remarkable feature of the Genji, and of Murasaki’s skill, is its internal consistency, despite a dramatis person√¶ of some four hundred characters. For instance, all characters age in step and the family and feudal relationships maintain general consistency. The work recounts the life of a son of the Japanese emperor, known to readers as Hikaru Genji, or “Shining Genji”. For political reasons, Genji is relegated to commoner status (by being given the surname Minamoto) and begins a career as an imperial officer. The tale concentrates on Genji’s romantic life and describes the customs of the aristocratic society of the time. Much is made of Genji’s good looks.

Publisher: Random House (1st Modern Library Edition)

Date Published: 1960

Book Condition: Very good hardcover with minor bumping to boards in a good, unclipped dust jacket showing minor edge wear and grazing. A clean, tight and unmarked copy internally with minimal tanning to some page edges.


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