By Patrick W. Caddeau
Murasaki Shikibu’s eleventh-century story of Genji is the main respected paintings of fiction in Japan. This e-book explores Genji’s reception through the years and its position in eastern tradition.
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Additional resources for Appraising Genji: Literary Criticism And Cultural Anxiety in the Age of the Last Samurai
Tanabe, noted for her own adaptation of Genji as a modern novel, Shin Genji monogatari (A New Tale of Genji, 1977–1990), remarks that Takarazuka is a particularly appropriate venue for the staging of Genji. By way of explanation she quotes a line in classical Japanese from the tale describing the splendor of Genji in his youth, looking so beautiful “one might have wished he were a woman” (onna ni mo mitate matsuramahoshi). For this reason she argues that there can be no better place to realize the beauty of Genji than the Takarazuka stage, where the hero is in fact played by a woman.
Fujiwara no Toshinari (also known as Fujiwara Shunzei, 1114–1204) was a leading arbiter of poetry of his age. During his lifetime, he witnessed the marked increase in factional inﬁghting and military upheavals associated with the collapse of the Heian period. By the end of the Heian period, these struggles led to signiﬁcant changes in the economic and political stature of the aristocracy. These changes culminated in the establishment of a warrior government in Kamakura in 1191. In the Kamakura period (1185–1333), aristocratic culture and its political stature ebbed, but poetry continued to play a signiﬁcant role in establishing and maintaining political status among the aristocracy.
22 In characterizing the corpus of Noh plays based on Genji, Janet Goff has observed the following: Although the Genji has never failed to delight readers, its appeal as a source of inspiration and allusion was perhaps greatest during the middle ages, that is, from the late twelfth to the sixteenth century, when the court was in an advanced state of decline. 23 Throughout the medieval period Genji’s connection to poetry and idealized notions of aristocratic culture continued to evolve. However, a cultural bias against the genre of prose ﬁction that we observed in the earliest accounts of reading Genji saw little change.
Appraising Genji: Literary Criticism And Cultural Anxiety in the Age of the Last Samurai by Patrick W. Caddeau