The Tale of Genji

Powerful Essays
World History

The Tale of Genji

The Tale of Genji, not only had a huge impact on Japanese literature, it is considered to be the first novel ever written in the world. Japanese literature was limited to poetry, fairytales, and memoirs until the birth of this remarkable work. The tale revolves around prince Genji’s life and his love adventures in an important period in Japanese history. Its complicated plot focuses on the significance of the Heian period and portrays in detail the life of the upper society in the Heian court. A court lady named Muraski Shikibu who had first hand experience of Heian society and Japanese aristocracy having served the empress wrote this literary work. She managed to pull the reader deep in to her world of women’s aristocratic lifestyle that reveals the patriarchal and hierarchal nature of Heian society by showing that the obedient nature of women was valued and that communication barriers were enforced on them for their status. Women struggle to break these barriers throughout the tale and attempt to escape the aesthetic lifestyle of the aristocratic world through Buddhism. The Tale of Genji portrays women’s’ lifestyles that revolved around society’s obsession with ranking and the idea of an ideal woman dealing with this type of aristocratic lifestyle although some scholars argued that women viewed this lifestyle as their own and were not oppressed by these expectations.

This tale portrays court ladies’ lifestyles in the Heian aristocracy. Women during this time period lived a life lacking privacy and were hidden psychologically and physically in a world within which indicates that the aristocratic society was patriarchal. They were not allowed to communicate with anyone but their family, husban...

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...Muraski Shikibu's The Tale of Genji. New York: 1993.

• Hirota, Akiko. "The Tale of Genji: From Heian Classic to Heisei Comic." Journal Of Popular Culture 31. : 29-68.

• McCULLOUGH, WILLIAM H. "Japanese Marriage Institutions in The Heian Period." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. : 103-167. (accessed ).

• Bloom, Harold. Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations . Philadelphia: Chelsea House,

• H. McCullough, William H. "Japanese Marriage Institutions in The Heian Period." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies . (1967).

• Murase, Miyeko. The Tale of Genji Legends and Paintings. New York: George Braziller Inc, 2001.

• Puette, Wiliiam. The Tale of Genji . Japan: Tuttle Publishing, 2003.
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