The Tale of Genji: Commentary on Key Words and Phrases, Volumes 55-57


Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji) is often considered the first great novel in world literature. The author of the work, Murasaki Shibuku, was born around 978 and spent most of her life at or near the imperial court in Kyoto. After a brief marriage to an older man, she entered the service of Empress Akiko (or Shōshi) around 1005 as a lady-in-waiting. The novel consists of 54 books or chapters that recount the life and romances of Prince Genji, the young, handsome, and talented son of an emperor. The novel is remarkable for its elegant style, complex portrayals of characters, and descriptions of human emotions. The author’s real name is unknown (she was known as Tō no Shikibu during her lifetime and came to be called Murasaki Shibuku after her death), as are her method of composition and the exact date when the work was written. This illustrated, woodblock print edition is from the collections of the Library of Congress. Produced in Kyoto in the mid-17th century, it is a complete and well-preserved set that includes the main text and six additional volumes: three volumes of commentary on key words and phrases in the text (Meyasu), a genealogy (Keizu), a sequel to the work by a later author (Yamaji no tsuyu ), and an index (Hikiuta).

Last updated: May 11, 2015