Tale of Genji

Topics: Novel, The Tale of Genji, Fiction Pages: 2 (553 words) Published: April 5, 2011
Desislava Pavlova
English 270a
Professor Hickman

Part 4.
Discuss the character and fate of Genji in the Japanese novel “The Tale of Genji”

The Tale of Genji can be considered as one of the oldest novels; some people even call it the world’s first novel. It was written during the early 11th century. The author, Murasaki Shikubu, can be compared to Homer, Dante, and Goethe. The masterpiece has influenced both the Western and Eastern Canon. It contains topics which are found in modern novels: romance, travel, and a perfect hero. The novel consists of a major character, Genji, the eponymous hero of the tale, and a lot of minor characters, who are very well developed. Genji, the protagonist of the story is the emperor’s son. There is an argument about whether his character is real or not. There are several real life people considered close to him: Ariwara no Narihira (the hero of The Tales of Ise), Emperor Murakami and Sugawara no Michizane. It is not clear whether his character is really inspired by one of those people, but it is certain that he cannot be a simply imaginary fictional character. The novel follows his maturation, his world exploration and political views. Genji goes through a drastic change in his life, when he receives a commoner’s status and the name of “Minamoto.” But he manages to rise in rank and become an Honorary Retired Emperor and also sees his children advancing in the hierarchy. In his mature life he succeeds in his career, which is best represented by his huge mansion, built to mirror the Emperor’s Palace. It is the highest point of his glory; it is also the point when his fortunes starts to decline. He becomes vulnerable to the new generations. His life starts to fade when in the final chapters his favorite Murasaki dies and soon after he follows his beloved woman to heaven, other known in the Buddhism as Nirvana. One of the genres of this novel is romance. It follows Genji’s love life which is really...
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