LemontreeLime's Reviews > The Tale of Genji

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
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Oct 23, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction-old-and-new
Read in April, 1994

This is the translation you want. This one dances where the others plod. This one feels like you can see Murasaki's Japan through a frosted pane of glass in front of you. The others don't really make it sound at all, and no visions ever really leap into life. At least the other translations never did for me. The book itself is an odd one, modern and old at the same time. You will like Genji, and want to shake him for his poor choices, and the whole thing brings to mind shades of Tristan & Isolde.

I had the very good fortune to have read this in a special focus class in college. There were only 6 other students in the class, and little did i know when i signed up for it, it was actually intended to be an intensive upper level Japanese in literature class for students learning the language. The professor, whose name i've forgotten, upon discovering that an English major had signed up for his class with no Japanese skill at all... very generously said 'well, that's a first. let's see what happens.' and he actually had to do some extra work on my behalf to come up with a different test and assignments for me, while the other students were focusing on language skills. He totally did not have to do that, but he was such a good teacher he did. He also explained more of why words were chosen over other words, and all those things that get lost in any translation. That class was awesome, i loved it, i ended up writing a paper on the symbolism of using cicada imagery in the story. sigh....

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