The Tale of Genji


This book is an old movable-type edition of one of the best-known classic works of Japanese literature. It is said to be the first printed version of Genji monogatari (The tale of Genji) and appears in 54 volumes produced in the Keichō Era (1596–1615). This is one of the earliest books for which hiragana types were used, and only two others are extant as scribal copies. Hiragana is a cursive script of the Japanese syllabary. One of the oldest novels in the world, Genji monogatari was written in the early 11th century by a court lady known as Murasaki Shikibu. Her story concerns the life and loves of Prince Genji and the affairs of his children and grandchildren, reflecting Japanese court life at the height of the Heian period (794–1185). The tale is told in prose and also has nearly 800 poems embedded in the narrative.

Last updated: December 12, 2017