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Mon, 30 Oct 2000 14:27:21 -0800

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-gundam@1u.aeug.org [mailto:owner-gundam@1u.aeug.org]On
> Behalf Of BlazeEagle@aol.com
> Sent: Sunday, October 29, 2000 19:40
> To: gundam@aeug.org
> Subject: Re: [gundam] what's the Musha?
> What is Tale of Genji?

Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji) is a novel, generally regarded as the
oldest full novel in the world, by a lady-in-waiting to the empress named
Shikibu Murasaki (978-1026).

The novel centers on the amorous dalliances and court intrigues of the
illegitimate son of the emperor and a palace chambermaid, Kiritsubo Koi, whom he
favors over his legitimate wives. This favor inflames the jealousy of the other
women, which causes the chambermaid to die when the boy is only three years old.
(A general concept in this book is the notion that hatred can kill a person.)

The child lives with his grandmother until the emperor, unable to forget him,
asks for his return to the palace. The emperor obtains his son's adoption into
the Minamoto (Gen) family. From there on, the child's name is Hikaru Genji.

Still a child, Genji falls in love with a new stepmother who resembles his own
mother. However, at the age of 12 he goes through the ceremony of manhood and
is married to the 16 year-old Princess Aoi. He becomes a Prince and marries
several women and has encounters with several more, but he suffers from the lack
of maternal love throughout his life.

Sound familiar?

Most of the story is concerned with the loves of Prince Genji and the different
women in his life, each of whom is exquisitely delineated. The work is
supremely sensitive to human emotions and the beauties of nature; but the tone
darkens as it proceeds, to reflect a Buddhist conviction of the vanity of this
world. An English translation by Arthur Waley was published in 1935. A new
translation by Edward G. Seidensticker was published in 1976. The "Zenshu
edition" is the most widely used Japanese version. The novel has be dramatized
in Noh and Kabuki and there was an anime version not too long ago, although it
only covered the opening chapters.


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