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on November 25, 2001
So far I much prefer the 1973 (?) translation by Seidenstucker (whatever!). I read the first 7 or so chapters alternately until I decided the aforementioned was easier to read. The new translation might be "truer" to the original and I love the footnotes but it's difficult to figure out who exactly is talking (S. incorporates the information in the footnotes in more recent translation into the body of the text) and S. is a far more graceful writer. If you should be seized by the inclination the read this book, I strongly recommend reading "The World of the Shining Prince" (Morris) first. The genealogical charts alone are invaluable to understanding "Genji".
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on June 26, 2006
not realizing that there were about four versions of "The Tale of Genji" out there, i bought the version translated by Kencho i realize i shouldve gotten the Seidensticker or the Tyler version. however, i enjoyed it nonetheless.

at first, when i started reading this book, i thought,"this story..isnt it about 54 volumes or so? this book is horribly thin." and the language is pretty hard to understand. i had to go back at least twice per page to understand it mostly, not even fully. however, once i got used to the language used, it was very easy to understand the rest. reading pages 1-approx. 10 took a couple of days, but getting used to it had pages 11-90 whizzed through. the story angers me at parts, but that proves that it is a good story. :) i recommend it.

since i have recently gotten into the japanese culture, reading this tale was at the top of my to-do list. having read Memoirs of a Geisha [which was a wonderful story as well..i give it 5 stars], i was dying to read some more about the fascinating japanese culture. this book is a great addition, but i think i will have to buy at least another version to fully appreciate this story.
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on May 22, 2000
It has been said that in addition to being the world's first novel, Genji is one of its greatest. I simply could not agree more. Although I had to read Genji twice(once with Seidenstcker, once with Waley) to understand the structure of the novel, it definitely was not a waste of time. Murasaki weaves a complex web of fate and personality flaws as well as human passions, and the result is not only a romance novel, but also a psychological study. Those who would argue that the characters are underdeveloped have not read this book closely enough. Although Genji may come off as a free-wheeling playboy at first, the reader must keep in mind that at this time this book was written, it was not unusual at all for highly born noblemen to have more than one wife. Genji genuinely loves all the women he encounters, and this makes him unusual.
Many people might be surprised that although Genji was written by a woman, it focuses almost exclusively on men--first Genji, then his two "sons" (one natural, one adopted). However, look closely at the characters of Murasaki and the Akashi lady, as well as Genji's stepmother and several other ladies throughout the course of the novel. They indirectly control the course of the lives of the men around them.
The Tale of Genji should be read by every serious student of literature, as it is the first novel. However, that distinction is the least of the book's numerous merits.
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on March 2, 2000
of all the ways of judging a book (or a film, or any other art-form, for that matter) here is a method i recommend. (1) start the book. (2) finish the book. (3) watch what happens. if you're still thinking about the book 3 months later you could say it was a good book. a very good book. if you're still thinking about it 12 months later, well, you have something very special on your hands. if you're still thinking of the book YEARS later, congratulations, you have a classic. which brings us to "Genji." have to admit, at first i was daunted by its size and complexity (puette's guide is a must). have to admit, i didn't particularly admire the main character much, either. have to admit, there were times i got bored. have to admit, i fell in love with murasaki (what a woman!). and finally, have to admit, i was glad to finally put it down, about 2 or 3 months after picking the thing up. but, of course, in a sense i never really put it down, because the damn thing keeps going through my head! and as time goes by i miss my "friends." i even miss that old hornbag genji!
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on August 29, 2001
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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on June 29, 1999
Unfortunately I read the Italian transalation, which has not been prepared referring to the original Japanese text, but to the English translations. Indeed in Italy we have only a translator's translation at our disposal! However, the novel is extremely fascinating, you really take part to the plot, and you are sorry when you finish reading. The story could have gone on and on. I do not share the view that Genji was a playboy. This opinion is prejudiced by our views as to personal relationship, which are of course very different. We cannot judge past ethics and morals with our ideas.
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on June 10, 2002
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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on August 31, 1996
The Tale of Genji by Lady Muraski is about a young man named Genji who is lost in his own search for real love. He goes on his daily "night" searches and nmanages to wallow into a few messy relationships as a result. One of them being the father of his own king. But the true strength lies in the vivid and colorful description written by Lady muraski and the seemingly endless novel in which it turns out to be. Possibly the most famous novel in Japan
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on August 21, 1999
This excellent book, for me, opened up the rich and fascinating world of Heian Japan. The structure Murasaki Shikibu used in terms of plots and characters is great, leading the reader through many twists and turns in the life and loves of men and women of the court. Seidensticker does a wonderful job of translation, covering many things Waley neglected, and inserting helpful and informative footnotes. Altogether a simply fantastic book.
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on February 1, 2008
This book has been so popular for centuries in Japan. The story takes places in the ancient capital city of Kyoto where so many nobles and richs were living all together. Through the life of beautiful prince, Genji, the book takes you into the mysterious ancient Kyoto where court ladies has long, very long straight hair, dresses layers of silk kimono, scent of incent etc...
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