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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Murasaki Question, 21 Oct. 2006
This review is from: The Tale Of Genji (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)
So much has been said about Genji Monogatari: some say it is the world's first novel; others, the greatest novel ever written; others again an incomparable source of information on Heian Japan. For some it is a satire, for others a great love story. All these are probably true, but it depends on your point of view, culture and even your sex as to how true.

My reading showed me that it is one of the greatest of autobiographies. For me, Murasaki, whose own name we do not even know, is the true hero of the story. Genji himself is a cypher: yet for sure Murasaki loved him, or someone like him. In her book Murasaki stands revealed; it is one of the great acts of intimacy in world literature. She is tangible, present in every adjective, real, alive. She was a strong living personality, a passionate nature, possessing great sensitivity to nature (so much more than the conventional Heian pose) and one who loved deeply and was not able to express her love. Of Murasaki, the scholars tell us, we know nothing. But her book tells us as much as one person can tell another, and with such power that we can never forget her.

This is a book from a distant era. Its survival, composition, culture and conventions, even its authorship, have inspired scholarly debate. There is even a 'Murasaki question' to parallel the 'Homeric question', concerning who wrote the book. Homer is in fact a useful analogue, but we don't need to know any of this. Murasaki tells us all we need to know. Over 1,000 pages, 400 characters and many, many tankas, yet we never lose the way. I like to think that Murasaki never finished her book, and that somewhere she is still writing some later chapters, that someone who loved so deeply in 11th century Japan could be granted some special dispensation by those in charge.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Oct 2011 22:03:10 GMT
Last edited by the author on 31 Oct 2011 22:03:46 GMT
Frustrated says:
This is really addressed to Amazon, not the reviewer. It is misleasding that to the info about the Dover Thrift edition of GENJI you include only reviews of the Everyman edition. Is it that difficult to be accuarate? Similarly when a book has an author and an editor you identify the book as having two authors. Isn't this using a sophisticated online tool in a rather primitive way?
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