This is the prose masterpiece of the Heian era of the 10th and 11th centuries, which is recognized as a great period in Japanese literature. It is an account of the intricate, exquisite, highly ordered court culture which made such a masterpiece possible.
""The Tale of Genji", as translated by Arthur Waley, is written with an almost miraculous naturalness, and what interests us is not the exoticism--the horrible word--but rather the human passions of the novel. Such interest is just: Murasaki's work is what one would quite precisely call a psychological novel. I dare to recommend this book to those who read me."--Jorge Luis Borges, "The Total Library"
The Tale of Genji, and this (Seidensticker) translation, is without doubt one of the finest reading experiences one can possibly have. What I want to review is what the publisher has done with this book. I purchased this copy in June 2001, and on the frontispiece it says 4th printing. There are so many printing errors in this book it mars what might otherwise have been a sublime reading experience. I will give you just one example: on page 113 a line reads: "Then came Koremitsu's house, he would be called a lecher and a child theif [sic]." Now this made no sense to me, either as a sentence or in the narrative context, so I consulted the abridged edition (which I also have). The line should have read: "Then came Koremitsu's unsettling report. He must act. If he were to take her from her father's house, he would be called a lecher and a child thief." That's a total of 14 words missing between "Koremitsu's" and "house". This is the most serious error in the book, but there are many others, and I've only read 1/4th of the book so far. This Everyman Library edition, the publisher boasts, uses acid-free cream-wove paper with a sewn full cloth binding. It's a beautifully designed book. If only the publishers had given as much attention to the soul of this book as to its body, it might have been worth the price I paid for it. Books should come with a warranty, really.
Not the translation advertised; also abridged2012/3/9
This is not the translation advertised in the description; it is an older translation. Also this version is abridged, which should be noted in the description. If you're looking for a complete translation, this ain't it. :(
Kindle Edition is NOT the Waley Translation2012/2/17
This Kindle edition is a translation by Kencho Suematsu, NOT Arthur Waley, and I would not recommend it to anyone who wants to read The Tale of Genji. There are far far better translations available. The Kindle version is falsely labeled, in my opinion.
A must for Japanophiles2004/4/16
This edition is actually the first volume of the series that makes up the complete Tale of Genji. After much anticipation, fuelled by books such as The Tale of Murasaki, I was ready to take on this giant of world literature. It was quite disappointing, but perhaps much of that was due to my strong personal dislike of the title character, Genji. Presented as a `shining prince', and the epitome of manhood, I found him to be a vain and childish character who was annoying in the extreme. So when the story is based on his adventures and accomplishments, it is bound to disappoint. However, something strange happened with this book - by the end, I had decided to seek out the further volumes so as to complete the story. So Genji, annoying or otherwise, grows on the reader, and you feel compelled to find out what happened next. And this is the sign of a good book. And if you have any interest in Japanese literature, or Heian culture, this book is a must-read, as so much relates to it. This is one of the `classic' translations, and is quite easy to understand. I would recommend having `A Reader's Guide to The Tale of Genji' by William Puette on hand while reading if you want to fully appreciate all that is going on.
This edition only contains the first seventeen chapters of the book (less than a third of the whole thing) and they are badly translated, especially the poems--and chapters are shortened without warning, taking out key information. Buyer beware. Unfortunately, I wasn't--and my whole class had to suffer with this version...my bad!