Monday, August 26, 2013

Murasaki Shikibu - The Tale of Genji III

"I absolutely detested every moment of reading this book. I only read it because it's on the '1001 Books you Need to Read Before you Die'. Whilst this list of books has helped me to discover books I love and may never have otherwise read ... there are pitfalls such as this dull book. I think, perhaps, that it was added to prove that the East also has a long history of the novel form, but I don't think I really needed to know that before I shuffle off this mortal coil."

"I suppose when you're an aristocratic lady in ancient Japan, there wasn't much else to do but write! ... You can tell as she starts out that she hasn't quite realized how to write for the first couple chapters ... I guess this was written for a bunch of bored, rich ladies to read together and coo and fawn over."

"given that it's 'the first novel' I'll not award only one star, but... lordy this book is repetitive and dreary. I occasionally pick it up and read a wee bit at random and for a little while can enjoy, but that seems to be the only way to appreciate. I recall having an argument about whether the first piece of computer music which I think was by ben johnston was any kind of music at all, in fact, and have to shake my head at peoples' self delusional capacities to hold this novel as being 'still one of the greatest' as it's value seems mainly in the accident of its initiation of an inevitable long form of prose literature"

"i found it to be intensely...boring. the book is extremely long, even by my standards, and the stroryline is repeitive and essentially is a chrnicle of the affairs of the prince and his son. we learn of nothing else"

"I can well appreciate the lords and ladies fascination with the Tale of Genji. Back in the early 60′s, I think, the first night time soap opera, Peyton Place, came to Boston. There was premarital sex going on, not show on the screen of course."


It seems like Genji Monogatari is the greatest book Japanese have written. To me it is like those pornographic tales, just that the characters in Genji Monogatari are all royal."

"I have to admit that I really don't like The Tale of Genji all that much. It is, essentially, a big soap-opera written for Heian court women. I find claims that it is insightful into human nature or an examination of the human condition somewhat dubious ... Some people consider The Tale of Genji to be the Japanese national epic, but I have a serious bone to pick with that.

I do not believe Genji can be compared to the national epics of other cultures, such as The Iliad, Le Chanson de Roland, or The Niebelungenlied, because it doesn't possess the same sort of character as those epics. Indeed, Genji isn't even a poem, while the others are.

My knowledge of Japanese literature, however, is quite limited. I'd like to believe that the Japanese would have a national epic, but what it would be, I don't know.

All-in-all, The Tale of Genji may be a fascinating look into Heian court-life, but I cannot help but question it's validity as an epic and seminal work in Japanese literature. It is simply the earliest surviving work that we know of, so far as I can tell."

"The _Tale of Genji_ is indisputably the most boring novel I've ever read. This is no exaggeration: it was only because of its towering stature in Japanese literature and an inertia fueled by disbelief -- this is a classic? -- that I finished it; anything else this unpleasant to read I would have put down long before the ending."

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