The Tale of Genji is 1000!
January 10, 2009 7:09 AM   Subscribe

The Tale of Genji turned 1000 years old sometime around now, and Japan is celebrating with parties and dressing up. This lengthy rambling narrative may be the world's first novel, although that depends on how you define "first" and "novel." For the person who is technophilic and literary, there is a very cool robot that reads it to you (in Japanese -- sorry). Sadly, it is only a prototype. There is a recent board game, however. More useful links previously.
posted by GenjiandProust (9 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Economist and NYT articles via the sharp eyes of kattullus. Also, the Genji video games, are sadly, not about the Tale...
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:11 AM on January 10, 2009

so no giant enemy crabs in the novel?
posted by darkripper at 7:38 AM on January 10, 2009

Sadly, no. But there are a lot of poems! Which would make an awesome video game. Like DDR, except with Heian-era poetry!
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:52 AM on January 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Samuel Richardson and Daniel Defore can suck it.

posted by bardic at 8:10 AM on January 10, 2009

Ooo, I was just re-reading this. I didn't know that its anniversary was coming up.

It certainly is rambling, though. Not so much in the beginning, but after his early adulthood.
posted by HopperFan at 12:24 PM on January 10, 2009

It certainly is rambling, though.

But it rambles through such a world, where one can become so sweetly lost--not unlike The Story of the Stone, which some know under the title of The Dream of the Red Chamber or, for that matter, that work to which the second half of the post's author eponysterical cognomen alludes, A Remembrance of Things Past , which some call In Search of Lost Time. The delight is in the details sometimes, and the more elaborate, the better.
posted by y2karl at 1:20 PM on January 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Gah! I can't take it anymore. I'm going to Japan this year if I have to stow away on a freighter. Preferably one with a poorly-guarded mess hall.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:58 PM on January 10, 2009

I didn't say I didn't like the rambling. If I didn't, I wouldn't be on the fourth (or maybe fifth, I can't remember) re-reading of it.
posted by HopperFan at 10:01 PM on January 10, 2009

This book is such a window into another world. The description of daily life in old Japan are amazing. I liked learning that if a guy could break through the defenses of a house to get to a girl's room and sleep with her three nights in a row, he effectively was married to her. I also liked the descriptions of the women; it's really interesting to see what they considered to be beautiful in ancient Japan. It's a really great epic to read.
posted by bluefly at 2:59 PM on January 11, 2009

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