Tominda Adkins's Reviews > The Tale of Genji

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
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's review
Jan 06, 12

My enjoyment of this book is two-fold, and it has nothing to do with whiny, insufferable Genji. I was truly enthralled with the descriptions of Japanese courtesan life--however tedious it seemed to be (a woman had to spend her whole life writing scented poetry behind screens? I'd kill myself!). What I liked most about "the world's first novel" was imagining Ms. Murasaki's excitement as she composed it. How she must have sifted characters around in her head, erected scenes over and over again before falling asleep, all without a single precedent novel to guide her or offer some form of outline. I know what a thrill writing fiction gives me, and my life is thrilling enough. I can't imagine what an escape writing would be, and how much I would come to depend on that escape, if I had to spend my days shuffling around on my knees on tatami. A must-read.

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