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5.0 out of 5 stars Many times it is the earliest efforts that are the best.
The Tale of Genji, or Genji monogatari, was written in the tenth century by Shikibu Murasaki. In it, there is a deep look at the culture and way of life of the highest classes in Heian-era Japan.
The tale itself is about the 'shining prince'; Genji. Son of the emperor and one of his lowest consorts, Genji is fated to be one of the most important men of the age, but...
Published on Aug. 14 2003 by Matthew Marko

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1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this book -- read on.
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...
Published on June 23 2001 by Immanuel A. Magalit


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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this book -- read on., June 23 2001
By 
Immanuel A. Magalit (Quezon City, Philippines) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Tale of Genji (Hardcover)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Many times it is the earliest efforts that are the best., Aug. 14 2003
By 
Matthew Marko "Matthew Marko" (Omaha, NE USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Tale of Genji (Hardcover)
The Tale of Genji, or Genji monogatari, was written in the tenth century by Shikibu Murasaki. In it, there is a deep look at the culture and way of life of the highest classes in Heian-era Japan.
The tale itself is about the 'shining prince'; Genji. Son of the emperor and one of his lowest consorts, Genji is fated to be one of the most important men of the age, but never able to truly ascend to royalty. This story, all thousand plus pages of it, details his life full of music, poetry, and efforts to win the hand of various ladies.
While starting out very episodic, Genji soon turns into a more refined tale, when all the threads of story come together to create surprising relations and events that will delight the imagination in their color and depth. By the end of the book, you will have lived through so much of the characters lives that each person comes into their own, and you cannot help but hope that all will end well.
I will say, however, that this book is somewhat difficult to get into for the uninitiated. There's much in the way of allusion to religion of the day (be it Shinto or Buddhism), and of customs that are barely mentioned due to being so commonplace at the time. As such, I would suggest something to introduce people to the Heian culture.
My first and best suggestion would be The Tale of Murasaki, written by Liza Dalby. It's a diary of the author of Genji, Shikibu Murasaki, pieced together from poems and the real diary, and filled in with further guesses as to her life. Compared to Genji, it is very approachable, and makes reading this story even easier.
I cannot recommend Genji enough, being quite possibly the first novel in the world, and certainly one of the best. For anyone with an interest in Japanese history, well-written romance, or just the best of the written word, Genji is sure to delight.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good but very long, June 10 2002
By 
Mom of 1 (Brookline, MA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Tale of Genji (Hardcover)
At first you think its "Memoirs of a Geisha", but this one has far too many details for that. Its court life in Japan with all its back stabbing rivalries. This book takes you back to a time when a woman was not seen and barely heard, yet they commanded men to cross oceans for just one possible look at their beauty. This long (very long) novel is interspersed with what may seem like a thousand little poems, and each one is a gem. I suggest you read this book if you are interested in: Japan, women's roles in Asian cultures, or if you just want a good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book., March 25 2002
This review is from: The Tale of Genji (Hardcover)
Anyone who hasn't read Genji in some form is doing themselves a great disservice. If you can't read Japanese, grab the nearest translation. Some people will dicker over minor differences amongst translators, but I have read several and have yet to see any deviations that take away from the overarching story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Tale of Genji, Nov. 10 2001
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This review is from: The Tale of Genji (Hardcover)
I love The Tale of Genji, but this edition has its flaws.
The hardcover is easily stained, and the black center easily rubs off and gets everywhere, not to mention it makes the book look incredibly beat up. (if you think the paperback is a solution, don't. A paperback of this size shouldn't even be touched.) I've only had mine for a year and it already looks like I've owned it for twenty. It isn't like I trashed it either - I always take very good care of my books.
I'm rather ambivalent about the quality of the translation. On the one hand, having read Waley's translation, Seidenstickers seems to be the one that is truer to Murasaki's original - he adds no extra language to what she was trying to say - however I have come across a few sentences that are obviously faulted, as they make absolutely no sense. Being very few in number, it hardly presents a problem, but never the less, it can cause some minor confusion.
Now, the story itself. The Tale of Genji is over 1000 years old. I must say it is simply fascinating just to own a copy of a piece of history. The Tale of Genji is incredibly captivating and haunting, beautiful and at times difficult to follow - but that makes it all the more enjoyable. You almost have to study it if you wish to fully understand it - and I'm a scholarly type, so I at least find that enjoyable.
All I would really say in warning is that you should have at least a bit of an understanding of Japanese and ancient Japanese culture - because the behavior of the characters, particularly the men, might rub the average westerner the wrong way.
The poor durability of the cover and the few sentence flawes forced me to take off a star. At least the sentences don't make any real difference, or it would be horrid. I myself plan to own all the translations of the Tale of Genji, so this is a must. And even if you are not, it is not a bad buy at all. Just make sure you take extra, extra care of it. :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest...., Aug. 29 2001
This review is from: The Tale of Genji (Hardcover)
The Tale of Genji is a truly impressive book. It is, as the description states, "widely acknowledged as the world's first novel." Because of this, there was little precedent for the book. Most great authors learn their craft and are inspired by other great works. But Murasaki Shikibu had little to go on, other than much smaller and shorter pieces of literature. That is what makes this book so impressive. If it had been written in the 19th century, I may not think so highly of it. But, as it is, I'd rank The Tale of Genji among the greatest novels of all time.
The one thing that really struck me about The Tale of Genji is that it shows how little human nature changes despite vast and dramatic changes and differences in various cultures and time periods. It's amazing to read a book that was written 1,000 years ago in Japan, and to know that you can relate to Genji and the other characters in this book. Our basic fears, longings, and desires have remained, and hopefully always will remain, essentially unchanged.
If you do plan on purchasing this book I recommend Waley's unabridged translation.
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1.0 out of 5 stars its was good, June 21 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Tale of Genji (Hardcover)
its was goo
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The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (Hardcover - Jan. 11 1993)
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