Tale of Genji Tale of Genji

Written by Murasaki-shikibu 1,000 years ago, the Tale of Genji has 54 chapters and over 1,000 pages of text in its English translation. It is generally considered to be the world's first true novel, and was certainly the first psychological novel ever written.

The novel have three gradual stages:

1. The experience of a youth (Chapters 1-33): Love and romance
2. The glory and the sorrow (Chapters 34-41): A taste of power and the death of his beloved wife
3. The descendants (Chapters 42-54): After the death of Genji

The Tale of Genji depicts a unique society of ultrarefined and elegant aristocrats whose indispensable accomplishments were skill in poetry, music, calligraphy, and courtship. Much of the book is concerned with the loves of Prince Genji and many different women in his life. The novel is permeated with a sensitivity to human emotions and the beauties of nature hardly paralleled elsewhere.


Back to "Introduction"