telophase: (Default)
[ profile] reading_genji

You know you wanna.
telophase: (sanzo - make me kick ass)
Got partway through Chapter 5 of the Tale of Genji at lunch today.



Dec. 1st, 2005 07:20 pm
telophase: (L - strawberry WTF?)
I've just looked through all the entries on [ profile] canon_sues and no one's posted Genji yet! Someone should really remedy that lack.

... What are you all looking at me for?

telophase: (Mello - bite my ass)
Chapter 4! In which Genji is EVEN MORE of a ho!

Read more... )

And then we get the best part, a paragraph at the end thrown in by Murasaki explaining that after she got a well-deserved sporking on [ profile] marysues criticized by some jealous lords and ladies of the court, she wrote this chapter to show that Genji isn't a Mary Sue because he does, too, have flaws!
I had passed over Genji's trials and tribulations in silence, out of respect for his determined efforts to conceal them, and I have written of them now only because certain lords and ladies criticized my story for resembling fiction, wishing to know why even those who knew Genji best should have thought him perfect, just because he was an Emperor's son. No doubt I must now beg everyone's indulgence for my effrontery in painting so wicked a portrait of him.

Footnotes )

telophase: (L - not wearing pants)
Good essay on Gojyo and Hakkai and incest in Saiyuki by [ profile] harukami. Massive spoilers if you don't know their backstories and how they met.


Something I was thinking about in regards to the Tale of Genji: back when I was lurking on rec.arts.sf.fandom (or possibly it was rec.arts.sf.composition), I vaguely remember reading someone's post about medieval history. She said that once she really paid attention to the ages of the historical figures in question and realized that medieval Europe was being run by the equivalent of her highschool football team, medieval politics suddenly made so much more sense.

I think the same can be said for Heian Japan, at least as it's presented through the Tale so far. Someone in a comment on one of [ profile] rachelmanija's posts about it made a crack about it being the first fanfiction, and it's so damn easy to find fanfic tropes in it, and [ profile] rachelmanija's mentioned that the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagan, who was a contemporary of Murasaki, the Tale's author, reads just like Livejournal. And apparently Murasaki made some thinly-veiled slams at other court ladies in her book, including Sei Shonagan. Which makes me want to map her onto, if Sei Shonagan maps onto Livejournal.

*fights temptation to fandom_wank them*

ETA: And [ profile] wordsofastory says in a comment on my post about chapters 1-3 that the bit about Genji being compelled to sleep with the unattractive lady reminds her of a highschool jock being forced by his mother to take the geeky next-door neighbor to a dance. See? IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE!

telophase: (Matsuda - teh drama!)
Re: my last post about the Tale of Genji: Tyler also mentions that at the time Genji was written, most upper-class women probably wouldn't be reading it themselves, but would look at pictures of it while one of their attending women read it out loud to them. I like to think of the LJ commentary almost as a continuation of that sort of thing, only we're a helluva lot more snarky.

So, here's some pictures:

Photographs of many sites mentioned in the book.

A screen illustrating the first 17 chapters

The Wikipedia entry, with links to outside sites

A summary with a few manga-style illustrations
telophase: (L - only one talking // the_pixelized)
[ profile] rachelmanija and [ profile] kate_nepveu are reading The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu and I am a sheep baa.

Well, ok, I've taken a stab or two at reading it before and got lost in who was who and what was what, so it rather helps to read someone else's commentary and the read it myself. For the two or three of you who may not know it, the Tale of Genji is the world's first novel, written by a woman at the Heian court approximately 800 years ago. Genji, the eponymous hero, is also possibly the world's first Mary Sue.

The best part about it all is seeing how many shoujo tropes have been in existence for the better part of a millennium at least.

I'm reading the Royall Tyler translation, which seems to have a decent amount of footnotes in it. [ profile] rachelmanija's reading a different version, and [ profile] kate_nepveu's reading the Seidensticker translation.

In which Genji is Speshul )
I found this bit of the introduction, by Tyler, amusing. It's in a section talking about the courtly language, which deals a lot in poetic metaphor and circumlocution instead of directness:
Some readers have wondered whether the men and women in the tale ever actually do anything, since they seem to spend their nights merely chatting; but katarau, which ostensibly means that, actually refers to other intimacies as well. ... A man who "sees" or "is seeing" a woman (a standard expression) is at least to some extent sharing his life with her, and Genji's having "seen" Utsusemi in a pitch-dark room (chapter 2) means bluntly that he has possessed her.
Does anyone else catch the irony in using a word that in our modern language functions exactly like "seen" in Heian Japanese? To someone unfamiliar with "possess" as a euphemism for "have sex with," the meaning must be equally opaque.


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