Some scholars have posited the existence of a chapter between 1 and 2 which is now lost, which would have introduced some characters that as it stands now appear very abruptly. The Waley translation completely omits the 38th chapter. Later authors have composed additional chapters, most often either between 41 and 42, or after the end.
To read The Tale of Genji is not simply to acquit oneself of some imagined duty to cross-cultural understanding but to step inside a fully realized fictional world. It should not be thought surprising that even to modern Japanese, that world is indisputably an alien one—the passage of nearly a millennium puts Murasaki and her fiction irretrievably in a place that even the remarkable continuity of Japanese literary culture cannot bring very close.
To forestall disputes over the succession, the beautiful boy-child is given the nonimperial surname Genji and thus, in the prevailing political scheme, is removed from consideration as heir to the throne. Above all, Genji is a lover.
He is not a Don Juan, driven by a neurotic need to prove his virility to himself and to the world, but rather a man who, from puberty forward, is both free and almost obliged to bestow his favors on the women with whom he comes in contact.
As no reader of the original story would fail to note, murasaki is an herb whose roots yield a dye that mimics the hue of the wisteria in bloom. Associations such as these and other clues lead some modern critics to suggest that a primary theme of the novel might be described as a search for the lost parent, with Oedipal complications.
That honor went to the noblewoman known as Aoi, the daughter of a high minister of the emperor. The marriage was arranged, as was proper, with a careful eye to the disposition of power in the court. A certain uneasy distance always prevails between Genji and Aoi. She is several years his senior when they marry, and Genji is then still young enough to find the difference in age disconcerting.
If the compelling power of beauty is one theme that is introduced early in the novel, another and more vivid one is jealousy, quite intertwined with the first. The second death is that of Aoi herself, less violent but no less devastating to Genji. It becomes clear that both deaths resulted from possession by the avenging spirit of the Rokuj lady, whose jealous passion at her felt neglect by Genji is so strong that it has effected, quite without her knowledge, a separation of body and soul in life.
In this respect, The Tale of Genji reveals itself to be something of a cautionary tale: Although love and sexual relations are a natural part of life, and a man, at least, need not restrict himself to a single partner, the bond between lovers is of such strength and durability that it must not be taken lightly.
The moral has its roots in Buddhism, specifically in the concept of karma.
In this instance, the intense emotional attachments formed in sexual union constitute a karmic bond of great strength; the stronger the emotion, the tighter the bond. In Buddhism as it was known to Murasaki, emotional attachments of any kind translate into karmic ties that bind the individual to the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, an undesirable state but one that is the common human lot.
Normal emotional ties may keep the unassisted individual from Nirvana, final liberation from the cycle of rebirth, but they cannot be avoided.
The lesson of the horrific tale of the Rokuj lady, however, is that passions of an abnormal intensity are dangerous. In common belief, they not only impede a gradual progress, lifetime by lifetime, toward the goal of liberation but also can actually tether the soul of the departed in a limbo between this world and the next, hovering as a ghost near the object of the passion.
The Rokuj lady had not died, but her jealous passion was so strong that it drew her soul from her body into destructive encounters with its objects, Ygao and Aoi. Genji himself recognizes that he bears some responsibility in these deaths, but he is not shown to mend his ways, for, in the world of the novel, they are not in any particular need of repair.
Throughout his part of the novel, Genji remains a creature of his time and place, a man whose sex, social position, and physical and intellectual gifts allow him to make almost any woman his own, but he is almost invariably portrayed as a paragon of Heian virtue.
He is sincere in his remorse and steadfast in fulfilling his responsibilities to his growing harem; above all, he matures into a gentleman of immense sensitivity to what the eighteenth century scholar Motoori Norinaga identified as the central aesthetic and spiritual value of the court subculture, mono no aware.
Modern Western readers sometimes find those virtues unredeeming. Genji is not a cad, but neither do his sensitivities keep him from imposing himself on women in ways that are no longer quite acceptable.
Nevertheless, as Genji and Murasaki age, and as they mature in their ability to sympathize with their surroundings, the reader can begin, at least, to enter respectfully into their world of values.
Genji himself remains something of an abstraction to the end, a bit too good to be true, perhaps.The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) Introduction The ' Genji Monogatari ' ("Story of Genji") is the great novel of classical Japanese literature, widely regarded as .
The Tale of Genji A photographic guide to The Tale of Genji. The Tale of Genji Audiobooks Japanese reading of 7 of 54 chapters from the original text, mp3 files.
Japan Finance Minister Announces Kyoto Coin Design with The Tale of Genji Theme The Kyoto Prefecture commemorative coin set for release in October features a scene from The Tale.
Unlike most editing & proofreading services, we edit for everything: grammar, spelling, punctuation, idea flow, sentence structure, & more. Get started now! Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji) is a work of literature, attributed to a certain Murasaki Shikibu. The plot of the Tale is about a young Imperial prince Genji and .
The Tale of Genji, as its title implies, is on its face the story of the princeling Genji, the son of an emperor by a concubine, who is so favored by nature with beauty and other, subtler gifts of. (The Tale of Genji – Introduction ) It was a relatively long period of peace and political strength lasting nearly years, until The Fujiwara family, to which the author is a member of its northern branch, is one of the most influential clans then.