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Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics$
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Wm. Theodore de Bary

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153973

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153973.001.0001

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The Tale of Genji as a Japanese and World Classic

The Tale of Genji as a Japanese and World Classic

(p.209) 16(A) The Tale of Genji as a Japanese and World Classic
Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics

Haruo Shirane

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines The Tale of Genji or the Genji monogatari, written in the early eleventh century by a woman named Murasaki Shikibu. The title The Tale of Genji comes from the surname of the hero, who is the son of the emperor regnant at the beginning of the narrative and whose life, marriage, and relationships with various women are described over the course of the first forty-one chapters. The remaining thirteen chapters are primarily concerned with the affairs of Kaoru, Genji's putative son. Shikibu's creation of highly individualized characters in a realistic social setting and her subtle presentation of inner thought and emotion have encouraged critics to call the Genji the world's first psychological novel.

Keywords:   Asian classics, Japanese classics, classic text, Murasaki Shikibu, psychological novel, Genji monogatari

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