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As I pondered this question of how to be a success at court, I came to the conclusion that literary ambition was more likely than not to bring a woman to a bad end.Liza Dalby's enchanting book The Tale of Murasaki is a brilliantly imagined fictional biography of the 11th-century Japanese writer Murasaki Shikibu, author of The Tale of Genji--the world's first novel. The Heian period produced at least two great works of world literature: Murasaki's The Tale of Genji and Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book; Dalby's fine first novel draws directly from the surviving fragments of Murasaki's own diary and poetry (as well as the occasional echo of Sei Shonagon) to create a vivid and emotionally detailed portrait of an intelligent, sensitive and complex woman drawn initially to writing stories about the amorous encounters of Prince Genji as a means of entertaining her friends and expressing her own richly creative temperament. As the stories become public, however, she is forced, against her own natural reticence, to take up a position at court, and the Genji stories become a conduit for commenting on the mores and intrigues of court life. Struggling to write and to stay true to her literary vision, her last tales are inflected by Buddhist thought on the transience and beauty of the world.
I have always felt compelled to set down a vision of things I have heard and seen. Life itself has never been enough. It only became real for me when I fashioned it into stories. Yet, somehow, despite all I've written, the true nature of things I've tried to grasp in my fiction still manages to drift through the words and sit, like little piles of dust, between the lines.
Dalby is an anthropologist by trade: research for her first study Geisha gained her the distinction of being the only Westerner to have trained in that much misunderstood profession, and she was a consultant on Steven Spielberg's film of Arthur Golden's best-selling novel Memoirs of a Geisha. Following a second study, Kimono, Dalby has turned her attention to fiction with admirable results, reinvigorating the genre of the historical novel with a narrative that combines meticulous research with emotional acuity. Recreating the intricate world of 11th-century Japan--the political and sexual machinations, the preoccupation with clothing and custom, the difficult and tenuous position of courtiers, the intensity of female friendships in a male-dominated society--Dalby shows us how Murasaki's sensibilities were shaped by and responded to the culture in which she lived.
A rich and convincing debut book, then: and if, in addition, readers are moved to read the works of Murasaki and Sei Shonagon themselves, Dalby is to be congratulated all the more fulsomely for reminding us of the work of these great writers. --Burhan Tufail
Liza Dalby is not just a remarkable scholar of Japan she is a keen storyteller -- Arthur Golden, author of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHASee all Product Description
I've read Liz Dalby's 'Geisha' book, her tale of becoming the first ever Western geisha in the name of anthropology. Read morePublished 21 months ago by LolitaLaura
The story is very captivating with the charm and mystery of the orient. One of the first English language books I read. Therefore it holds a special place in my bookshelf.Published on 27 Nov. 2012 by davidhatchwell
This book took me a while to get into and I almost gave up but I am glad I persevered with it. The style in which it is written somehow made me read it very slowly which is... Read morePublished on 28 Feb. 2012 by lynnrec
I love Liza Dalbys writing style and this book didnt let me down. The story is really a representation on what early japanese civilisation would have been like. Read morePublished on 27 Aug. 2009 by Mrs. R. E. Marshall
I loved this book, it was amazing, I kept forgetting that it was set so far in the past.
I highly recommend it.
This is a great book for anyone who has the slightest bit of interest in Japanese history. Liza writes so well, that you can easily lose yourself in the book and transport... Read morePublished on 29 Aug. 2004 by Joanne Rech
I thought this was a well researched book and definately well written; however it has to be one of most depressing books I've ever read. I felt deflated when I finished it. Read morePublished on 1 Feb. 2004
This novel centres on Murasaki, and her writings. She is credited with writing the world's first novel "The Tale of Genji" and this novel follows her life, pieced together from her... Read morePublished on 21 Jan. 2003 by J. Cronin
Books hve the ability to take you places to which ou could never go. And this book more the most. Its a land very different from other's in the 11th century and very different from... Read morePublished on 13 Jan. 2002 by email@example.com