Saturday, March 14, 2009

A BOOK REVIEW ON MURASAKI SHIKIBU’S THE TALE OF GENJI

A BOOK REVIEW ON MURASAKI SHIKIBU’S THE TALE OF GENJI

Saturday, March 14, 2009
by Rachel Mae Joan Naluis Sansolis
IV- Sir Isaac Newton

I. Introduction

The Tale of Genji is a time- honored handiwork of Japanese literature accounted for to a Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in the early eleventh century, around the pinnacle of the Heian Period. This was translated by Arthur Waley in 1926.

Here, we can find the long and short of it embedded with a potboiler of a young man who dives into unsure plans and experiences different sacrificial trials. This is a tale of love, passion, and determination from the master storyteller. Genji wanders through the landscape of life, death, and love while maintaining a teflon-like dignity. The 2000 yen story does not have a true, unifying conflict; it is composed of mini-sagas that overlap each other and complicate each other the further the story progresses.

Murasaki Shikibu’s "The Tale of Genji," the world's first psychological novel, is one of the longest and most distinguished masterpieces of Japanese literature. Murasaki is considered one of the greatest writers of Japanese literature. Statues in her honor have been built throughout Japan. Her works are a staple part of the education curriculum in there. The note was issued in commemoration to her and her greatest epic work, The Tale of Genji. The exact dates of the life of Lady Murasaki are not known, including her name. Shikibu, a title, may refer to her father, who served in the Ministry of Ceremonial, or of Rites. The name Murasaki, literally "Violet," could refer to one of the heroines of The Tale of Genji or to the first element of her maiden name, Fujiwara, one of the greatest names in Japanese history. Murasaki was born into a lesser but distinguished and cultured branch of this family in the last quarter of the 10th century. Her father, Fujiwara Tamatoki, an official and poet, was at one time a provincial governor and his grandfather was a poet.

With her beautifully crafted works, Murasaki Shikibu has mapped out a literary pilgrimage. By encouraging freedom, soul, wisdom, faith, humility, hope , redemption, courage, love, obsession, and temptation, her writing transport us to the sacred place that the books create between readers and text. It is a journey that proves that great literature has the power to influence lives.

The tale spreads across four generations, splashed with poetry and romance and heightened awareness to the fleeting quality of life. Murasaki Shikibu's tale of love, sex, and politics explores a complex web of human and spiritual relationships. This focus on characters and their emotional experience, as compared to plot, makes the novel easily accessible to the modern reader. It explains, in part, why many scholars consider Genji to be the world's first great novel.

This novel has had a pervasive influence on later Japanese and world-wide art. It has inspired Noh Theater, waka poetry, scroll paintings, pop music and dances. It has had an especially profound influence on Japanese literature. Court fiction for hundreds of years after openly modeled itself after Genji. Present-day writers, including Kawabata Yasunari in his 1968 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, still cite The Tale of Genji as a great influence.

II. Summary of the Content

The tale of Genji is a story of the search of the final love. After Genji had reached physical and emotional maturity, he spent most of his time showing his affections by writing poems to women that had little interest in him. Most of the women knew that nothing would ever result in an affair with him and resisted as much as possible. Such behavior was scandalous for a person of his position, so he needed to carry out his affairs in complete secrecy. Genji went through great troubles to hide his illicit affairs and to please his peers at the court. Each affair he had is significantly different from all others. Genji cannot help but feel guilty after admitting this love, though, and maintains the relationship long after his feelings die down. In one of the last affairs, Genji is on the receiving side of lust. An elderly lady, who Genji calls an outrageous flirt, starts fawning on him and Genji has to think of creative ways to dodge the situation without losing face. Within his experiences, he can mainly establish the thought of a certain life lesson which was introduced to him through his non- concerted acts, “Life is about making mistakes." Perhaps, in every lady he went on having an affair with, he has taught himself to love over and over again.

This enthralling chestnut she made incorporates themes that readers will recognize and treasure such as of the script of affection, friendship, filial loyalty, family and the perceptions of love which is somehow coherent with the notion of Genji’s propensity to those ladies he attempted to seduce.

III. Analysis of Text

The Tale of Genji does not meet many of the classical requirements of an epic. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature defines epic as, "Long narrative poem in an elevated style that celebrates heroic achievement and treats themes of historical, national, religious or legendary significance." It goes on to report, "The main aspects of epic convention are the centrality of a hero—sometimes semi divine—of military, national, or religious importance; an extensive, perhaps even cosmic, geographical setting; heroic battle; extended and often exotic journeying; and the involvement of supernatural beings, such as gods, angels, or demons, in the action."

The Tale of Genji is written in prose, not verse. The hero and the setting are completely mortal, more realistic than cosmic. It is a time of peace and tranquility. It was prepared with the chastity of thoughts by the writer and it showed a lot of influential concepts.

Upon reading the book, it had made me realize things which are inevitable to life. Those which we cannot get rid of because we are just humans and we just follow the path treaded to us by God. In The Tale of Genji, there are apparent interactions of members to the opposite sex. While not the entirety of the book or the ultimate focus of Murasaki's writing, a strong theme of Genji is the notion of love, lust and all his predilections on to passionate his deeds toward his likes of women.

The writer’s passion is quite different from other’s thinking styles. Perhaps, others might be wondering why the book is written in a way that it could get to the deepest thought of including lust and complete obsession of how a man would do anything just to win the heart of the woman. It is a queer thing that from the mind of a woman is a cloud of a marvelous fiction, written to teach and to inspire. This has made the entire possible turnpikes to tell us that it is not a mistake to commit a mistake. It is but natural to have one and with the next time of encounter, it is the chance given to you, so you could work for the unpleased deed you showed before.

IV. Evaluation

Love is absolutely a thing. It is an amazing one which takes part in every person’s life. What it can do is unknown and unpredictable, yet people restrains what it makes us all feel. It seems to be a piece of bitter gourd which when you eat, at the end of your tongue, leaves a taste that you cannot easily get rid of. It will take time before you can forget the taste, just like love. It is when you are ready to leave your past and be open for the next relationships you are about to encounter. It is not always the end of everything at the very end of your relationships. Just like Genji, he made himself eager to accept his failures with his previous attempts and he urges to make the mot of what he can do to please the one whom she vows his love to. A wonderful thing it is, indeed, for love has its own reasons and it has all its ways.

I believe this book has taught many. All the life teaching passages are instrumented to add savor to the interest of the readers. I felt beatitude by the lessons this book has initiated to me- all of which is about the themes stated earlier. I knew that his quest intends to help individuals to be led into the right decisions and preparations in order to be cleared with their confused dealings.

Above all, I am stating that the book is as entertaining, interesting and memorable as it fanfares a story of uncommon instances that might happen probably to teenagers like us. It can really touch hearts and make them realize that love is a game, where when you lose; you have to encounter different sacrifices. It isn’t quite hard enough to put in mind. With all these, I bet this book is truly readable.

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