The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
(Penguin Classics)

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Synopsis

Written centuries before the time of Shakespeare and even Chaucer, The Tale of Genji marks the birth of the novel—and after more than a millennium, this seminal work continues to enchant readers throughout the world. Lady Murasaki Shikibu and her tale's hero, Prince Genji, have had an unmatched influence on Japanese culture. Prince Genji manifests what was to become an image of the ideal Heian era courtier; gentle and passionate. Genji is also a master poet, dancer, musician and painter. The Tale of Genji follows Prince Genji through his many loves, and varied passions. This book has influenced not only generations of courtiers and samurai of the distant past, but artists and painters even in modern times—episodes in the tale have been incorporated into the design of kimonos and handicrafts, and the four-line poems called waka which dance throughout this work have earned it a place as a classic text in the study of poetry.

This version by Kencho Suematsu was the first-ever translation in English. Condensed, it's a quarter length of the unabridged text, making it perfect for readers with limited time.
 

About Murasaki Shikibu

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Murasaki Shikibu, a lady in the Heian court of Japan, is best known as the author of The Tale of Genji–written in the eleventh century and universally recognized as the greatest masterpiece of Japanese prose narrative and possibly the earliest true novel in the history of the world.
 
Published December 20, 2011 by Tuttle Publishing. 241 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Tale of Genji

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One chapter (38, ""The Bell Cricket"") and many shorter passages cut by Waley are back in, while all of Waley's embellishments, explanations, clarifications, and attempts to make Lady Murasaki's ""novel"" more familiar, are out.

Sep 27 1976 | Read Full Review of The Tale of Genji (Penguin Cl...

Kirkus Reviews

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A new plot emerges, in which Genji’s putative son Kaoru (actually fathered by Third Princess’s lover Kashiwagi) struggles with his best friend Niou (who is Genji’s grandson) for the love of beautiful Ukifune, who flees them both, eventually becoming a nun.

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Kirkus Reviews

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An elegant new translation (only the third ever done in English) of the 11th-century tale of court life in medieval Japan that is generally considered the world's oldest novel.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Tale of Genji (Penguin Cl...

Publishers Weekly

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Widely recognized as the world's first novel, as well as one of its best, the 11th-century tale of Genji the shining prince has been painstakingly and tenderly translated by Tyler, a retired pr

Oct 01 2001 | Read Full Review of The Tale of Genji (Penguin Cl...

The New York Times

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''When translating prose dialogue one ought to make the characters say things that people talking English could conceivably say,'' Waley insisted, and though this is a commendable argument for translation as literature in its own right, it ignores the fact that people who speak in English today h...

Dec 02 2001 | Read Full Review of The Tale of Genji (Penguin Cl...

The Guardian

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Genji, the hero of part one (some 41 chapters and 734 pages), is husband of the mother of Kaoru, the hero of part two, and the grandfather of Niou, Kaoru's friend and nemesis.

Apr 01 2006 | Read Full Review of The Tale of Genji (Penguin Cl...

Publishers Weekly

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Widely recognized as the world's first novel, as well as one of its best, the 11th-century tale of Genji the shining prince has been painstakingly and tenderly translated by Tyler, a retired professor of Japanese language and literature.

| Read Full Review of The Tale of Genji (Penguin Cl...

BookPage

Beginning with Alfred, Lord Tennyson, whose 1888 reading from "The Charge of the Light Brigade" is offered here on audio for the first time, Poetry Speaks spans more than a century and presents the recordings of 42 writers, including Edna St. Vincent Millay's crisp, prim delivery of "I Shall For...

Oct 26 2015 | Read Full Review of The Tale of Genji (Penguin Cl...

London Review of Books

It is therefore very welcome to find that the Penguin Classics now include The Tale of Genji, a psychological novel written at the beginning of the 11th century by a Japanese court lady.

Nov 20 2003 | Read Full Review of The Tale of Genji (Penguin Cl...

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