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The Tale of Genji (Penguin Classics) Paperback – Abridged, February 28, 2006


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (February 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039490
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039495
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[The Tale of Genji is] not only the world’s first real novel,
but one of its greatest.” –Donald Keene, Columbia University

“Edward Seidensticker’s translation has the ring of authority.” –New York Times Book Review

“A triumph of authenticity and readability.” –Washington Post Book World

About the Author

Murasaki Shikibu, born in 978, was a member of Japan's Fujiwara clan, which ruled behind the scenes during the Heian Period by providing the brides and courtesans of all the emperors. Lady Murasaki's rare literary talent, particularly her skill as a poet, secured her a place in the court of Empress Akiko. After the death of her husband, she cloistered herself to study Buddhism, raise her daughter, and write the world's first novel Genji Monogatari, the tale of the shining Prince Genji.
Royall Tyler was born in London, England, and grew up in Massachusetts, England, Washington D.C., and Paris. He has a B.A. in Far Eastern Languages from Harvard, and an M.A. in Japanese History and Ph. D. in Japanese literature from Columbia University. He has taught Japanese language and culture at, among other places, Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Oslo, in Norway. Beginning in 1990, he taught at the Australian National University, in Canberra, from which he retired at the end of 2000. He will spend the American academic year 2001-02 as a Visiting Professor at Harvard.

Royall Tyler and his wife Susan live in a rammed earth house on 100 acres in the bush about seventy miles from Canberra, where they breed alpacas as a hobby.

Royall Tyler’s previous works include Japanese Noh Dramas, a selection and translation of Noh plays published by Penguin; Japanese Tales and French Folktales, anthologies published by Pantheon; and The Miracles of the Kasuga Deity, a study of a medieval Japanese cult published by Columbia University Press.

Customer Reviews

This version was not labeled as abridged when I ordered it.
T. Ward
I would definitely recommend it to others, and I would absolutely without hesitation rate this as one of the better novels I have read.
Richard Forbus
This sad, truncated version lacks complexity, depth and charm.
pandorabook

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Richard Forbus on March 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
"The Tale of Genji" by Murasaki Shikibu is recognized as the world's first true novel. Written in the late 10th or early 11th century, it is a story of the life of "Genji", who is the son of an Emperor of Japan in the 9th century. Known as "The shining Prince", the story follows Genji's exploits over the course of his lifetime. The book gives insight into the lifestyle of a young, strikingly handsome prince who is revered by those he comes in contact with.

The true author, known as Murasaki Shikibu, was the daughter of a governor of several provinces. She is recognized as writing the entire tale, which consists of 54 chapters in its original format. Because all of the original versions were handwritten, the version we know of today are edited and compiled from multiple versions that were copied from the original, copied by an unknown scholar during the 13th century.

The story gives insight as to royal life during the time period. Its unabashed views of the lifestyle of Genji, and those around him, do not spare the reader of the downsides of royal life. In fact, much of what is portrayed in the book could be considered scandalous in nature, given the positions of importance many of the characters in the book have in Japanese society of that time period.

What strikes me as fascinating with this book is the obvious parallels to the life and human nature of those who live in today's world. The real life drama and adventure presented in this novel is compelling, if not somewhat scandalous. It is an absolutely compelling read, considering the time period it was written in, and it provides a fascinating look into the formality of royal life of the time period.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By pandorabook on August 6, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been reading Genji for 50 years. I'm no scholar and do not read Japanese, but I have kept coming back to it. It is one of the world's greatest novels, and the earliest one. I have both the Waley and Seidensticker translations. I had hand surgery this summer and have been discovering the joys of one handed reading with my Kindle. I thought this an ideal time to revisit an old favorite. Wrong. This sad, truncated version lacks complexity, depth and charm. It breaks off incomprehensibly before the deaths of Murasaki and Genji, and the whole last third of the novel, the most psychologically interesting part, is missing. There are parts that Tyler usefully omitted, like those concerned with poor dreary Suetsumuhana, but if I had encountered it in this form 50 years ago I would never have given it a second reading. Also I think I do not like the translation as well, but that is a judgement formed without the ability right now to compare this version with the other translations. My advice is go for Seidensticker. The Waley translation is my sentimental favorite but he for some reason left out a chapter.

ps: I did enjoy the notes, but anyone wishing to understand the background would do well to read Ivan Morris' World of the Shining Prince.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Sharon J. Gallacher on January 29, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I agree with R Tyler, knowing the translation is crucial to choosing which version of a book to download. Poor information about editions and translations is a problem I consistently come across in selecting classic books on Kindle and there are many junk versions of classics out there. Amazon please raise the Kindle level of product information to match that of your paper copies. Without this, the utility of the Kindle will always be diminished.
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38 of 47 people found the following review helpful By R. Tyler on November 9, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
One star for incompetent advertising. Whose translation is this? How much of the complete work does it include? The author of The Tale of Genji is Murasaki Shikibu, not "Genji monogatari." Genji monogatari is the book's Japanese title. Besides English, there are translations into many languages other than Finnish. And most of the Finnish translation, which is not yet complete, is not by Marutei Tsurunen.
Amazon, please get your information right and give your readers fair, accurate, and useful information about the product.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By hja on July 26, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I share the opinion of the two prior reviewers: Amazon needs improve the quality of the information on its electronic books. I have the Waley, Seidensticker, and Tyler translations in paper form. What I want is the Seidensticker and/or Tyler translations on Kindle so I don't have to carry those enormous tomes around. They're both hardcover books of well over a thousand pages each--Tyler is two volumes--and they weigh a ton. From the information given about this ebook Genji I'm not even certain what language it's in, much less which translation. Ebooks, for all their undoubted virtues, are completely useless when the publication information is so bad that consumers can't even tell what they're being asked to buy.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on September 26, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
The hard cover version is nearly 1200 pages long while the Kindle edition is listed at 400 pages. How does the publisher/author justify cutting out 2/3 of what is judged a masterpiece of literature. I have the print edition and was looking for an electronic copy. I won't find it here.

Buyer beware.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Ward on September 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This version was not labeled as abridged when I ordered it. Amazon please be more careful about things like that, I didn't really want the cliff's notes version. Hopefully they are cool with exchanging it.

Edit: They were indeed cool with exchanging it for the unabridged, even though I was past the usual return period!
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