""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"
Murasaki Shikibu, a lady in the Heian court of Japan, is best known as the author of The Tale of Genji–written in the eleventh century and universally recognized as the greatest masterpiece of Japanese prose narrative and possibly the earliest true novel in the history of the world.
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.
A Lie to Readers by the publisher2013/1/28
I don't like books that are misdescribed. This Dover version is NOT unabridged. the entire second half (after Genji disappears) is removed. All the poetry, too, is gone. No wonder it so inexpensive.
The Best Introduction and the Best Value Around!2001/2/25
I first found The Tale of Genji in a military library on Camp Humphreys in Korea. The volume was huge, and the plastic jacket was torn, yellowed, and taped. I had no idea what the book was about, only that it was 1000 and more pages. The translator was Arthur Waley. For three months I immersed myself in the tome until I almost refused to part with it. Later, I also read an abridged version translated by Seidensticker. This particular volume includes only the first novel of the series; there are actually six in the entire work. It is a dense 190-page introduction to the Heian period of Japanese culture, Buddhism, and Genji. But, this piece of the novel is the best introduction to the work as a whole, and I am grateful for it, although I also want to re-read the succeeding five novels again. If you do not have the time to read 1000 pages (although I heartily recommend it), this is the next best course of action. The theme of the book is karma, and , specifically, that bad intentions and actions will affect the lives of others in our own life and in the lives to come. Although the succeeding five novels show much more poignantly how an ancestor's actions hurt his children, in the first novel, Genji's actions affects those around him in a very direct way. The psychological descriptions of the main characters rival any modern work by Dostoevsky. The charm of the title characters distracts the reader from the suffering occuring around him, but Murasaki paints a hauntingly beautiful picture of 11th Century Japan. Waley's translation is fluid, but sometimes quaint and misguided. This volume may be the best value I have ever found, including discount books at second-hand stores and garage sales.
A complete work that is the GENJI of Arthur waley English translation can be read. It is necessary to request the book on the following six part. There was one in that in the library of my city in Japan.
part one The tale of Genji part two The sacred tree part three A wreathe of cloud part foure@Blue trousers part five The lady of the boat part six The bridge of dreams
Don't buy this2013/2/25
I was disappointed that this contains only a few chapters. The translation is not as good as the Seidensticker version. I would not recommend this product.