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The Tale of Murasaki
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The Tale of Murasaki

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  3,547 Ratings  ·  220 Reviews
The sensitive and modest daughter of a mid-ranking court poet, Murasaki Shikibu staves off loneliness with her active imagination, telling stories about the dashing Prince Genji to her close friends. At first, they are their private entertainment, but soon Genji's amorous adventures are leaked to the public and Murasaki is thrust into the life of a kind of eleventh-century ...more
Paperback, 426 pages
Published 2000 by Chatto and Windus
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M.J. Fiori
I very much enjoyed Liza Dalby's The Tale of Murasaki while I was reading it. But it was only after I read two other books that I realized exactly how good the book was.

These other two books were the real-life memoirs/diaries of Murasaki Shikibu (author of The Tale of Genji, the 11th century masterpiece considered by many to be the world's first novel) and A Tale of Flowering Fortunes, a classical Heian work that deals with the same age. (The latter book has been itself "reworked" in A Tale of
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Liza Dalby's enchanting book The Tale of Murasaki is a brilliantly imagined fictional biography of the 11th-century Japanese writer Murasaki Shikibu, author of The Tale of Genji. Dalby's novel draws directly from the surviving fragments of Murasaki's own diary and poetry to create a vivid and emotionally detailed portrait of an intelligent, sensitive and complex woman drawn initially to writing stories about the amorous encounters of Prince Genji as a means of entertaining her friends and expres ...more
Rebecca Huston
A gorgeous novel to read, and a delight. It's free of the usual idiocies that most Western novelists tend to throw into Japanese settings, and a must-read for anyone interested in Heian culture or The Tale of Genji.

For the longer review, please go here:
Oct 11, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
I couldn't relate to the main character, Murasaki. The author did not provide enough details to make the emotions and situations believable... or they simply weren't believable to begin with.
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Japanese history enthusiasts
This book is not for everyone. Those who have little interest or enthusiasm for very, very old Japanese history and customs will probably find this book a bit tedious. Also, for those with basically no knowledge of Japanese character, the sensibilities presented here may be off putting. Heian era Japan is a world unto itself, having more strangeness and ephemeral qualities than any modern author could hope to give it and Liza Dalby does an admirable job trying to breath life into it again. For a ...more
Murasaki Shikibu was the author of the first novel in history, and the participant in the refined and vibrant culture of the 11th century Japanese imperial court. For a story based on the life of such a person this book is a bit slow and unexciting.

Murasaki is not the only potentially fascinating character in this book, there are other legendary ladies of letters: Sei Shōnagon, Izumi Shikibu, Mother of Michitsuna (the author of The Gossamer Diary), Akazome Emon... but they all seem to be simply
Prima străină devenită gheișă, cu un doctorat în antropologie și cu o mare pasiune pentru cultura japoneză, scriitoarea americană Liza Dalby reconstituie în Povestea doamnei Murasaki atât povestea unei epoci (sfârșitul epocii Heian), cât și povestea unei cărți (Povestea Prințului Genji, primul roman al literaturii japoneze și, se pare, al lumii, cu mult înaintea lui Don Quijote). Romanul urmărește atât viața scriitoarei Shikibu Murasaki, pe care Liza Dalby o reconstituie din puținele mărturii ră ...more
Oh hey, look, it's my first decent review!

Now let's get to the point...

I was conflicted about how much I liked this book... I finished it unable to get rid of the sense of the incomplete. I expected a little more from a book detailing the life of such an important woman.

The story details the life and musings of Japan's greatest author of antiquity - the fabled Murasaki Shikibu, who rose as a prominent figure in the Japanese imperial court in 11th century. She was mysterious, intelligent and meti
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gems, fiction
I hate that I will never again read The Tale of Murasaki for the first time. Liza Dalby's story transcended time. While I was between these pages I felt I was looking through a window into 11th century Japan. That's a precious talent with precious results: how the main character, Murasaki, and I share some of the same concerns and angst—even across time we are not alone in our fears. And while some reviewers criticized the book's slow pace, I didn't mind. I felt the pacing reflected the languish ...more
May 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first/only American to qualify as a geisha wrote this in the first person, as a semi-fictionalised autobiography of an 11th century author who was also lady-in-waiting to an empress. She was famous for the tales of a character called Genji, but also wrote poems and a journal. The modern author used the journal and poems to construct the story, creating parallels between her life and that of the main characters in her tales. It's a fascinating insight into medieval Japanese court life, with l ...more
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With its fascinating story of characters caught up in a world they themselves don't understand, Hidden Buddhas may well be Liza Dalby's best work yet. Besides taking us on a journey through little-known corners of Japan, it offers us an engaging and believable portrait of people driven to do things they may not have imagined." --Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha

According to esoteric Bu

More about Liza Dalby...
“Fate is unmoved by one's pitiful hopes; what changes, bowing to fate, is what one hopes for.” 11 likes
“The moon is more interesting than the unchanging sun. That is surely why it is used in poetry and the sun is not—unless one talks of dawn or dusk, when the sun briefly hovers on the edge of day.” 10 likes
More quotes…