The Tale Of Genji

Submitted By cassidyidiot
Words: 1406
Pages: 6

Cassidy Fauser
Dr. Nagase
LSFY 102-06
17 January 2014
The Tale of Genji The Tale of Genji is the world’s first novel and has remained prevalent in today’s society. It was written in Japan by Murasaki Shikibu and has long been recognized as one of the premier literary works of the country and has continued to have an influence on the arts in Japan. The novel is sometimes confusing to American scholars because our concept of a hero differs from Japan’s, this is mainly due to the fact that the two cultures are strikingly different. While The Tale of Genji is representative of the Heian era, and Genji is even considered an ideal man by some; the narrative is not apt to the modern times, as his persona opposes the notion of what an ideal contemporary hero is supposed to be. First and foremost, the storyline mainly concentrated on Genji and his amorous lifestyle. He spends much of his time trying to woo women that he finds attractive; most of these women know that nothing beneficial would come of partaking in an affair with Genji, and so they struggle in trying to resist him for as long as possible. Ultimately; despite their effort, the women often begin to share similar feelings towards Genji. This happens multiple times in the novel, thus giving the impression to the readers that Genji is an enigmatic and amiable man. He continuously captures the feelings of women whom he aims to pursue. His copious amount of affairs with various women are often from outside the court, which is injurious to Genji’s position in the court. Consequently, Genji intends to keep his affairs in complete concealment, which causes his a considerable amount of trouble. This literary piece does not center on the political field of the Heian era, but rather, the notion of love. Each affair that Genji is involved with is considerably different in character from the others. This makes the story amusing to the readers and somewhat unpredictable. It seems as if Genji has no particular ideal woman in mind. Each woman than Genji wishes to seduce is dissimilar to one another. Moreover, his idea of “love” is very superficial and shallow. For example, Genji bombarded a princess with letters merely because he heard her play remarkably beautiful music on her zither. This exemplifies his flawed perception of love. Genji only acknowledges love when he receives a fluttery feeling. Love is far more complex than this feeling, yet Genji recognizes this sensation as love and is in constant search of somebody more to “love.” Genji’s actions were acceptable for his period, but our present times to not share this same view toward the number of these kinds of liaisons that he strived for. Many literary critics concur that Genji is a hero simply because, although he had numerous love affairs, he showed a certain amount of respect for women. He did not leave them as soon as his attraction ceased to exist. A cultural study on the book suggests that what Genji’s ability to move four women at a time was revolutionary in this aspect. The study claims that Murasaki Shikibu tried to illustrate Genji as a hero, instead of as a “play boy” (Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding n.d.). It was customary in Murasaki’s time for men to have several relationships with many women, so Genji’s behavior was considered normal at the time that the novel was written. Nowadays, his actions in the novel are perceived as vulgar. Polygamous relations are not ubiquitously accepted in today’s world. 0ur culture views love as a quite intimate feeling that is usually shared by two people and two people only. Genji’s actions contradict the norms of our society, which precipitates the misunderstanding in American readers as they are startled by Genji’s horrendous actions. According to our modern society’s culture, Genji does not embody the idea of an ideal man. The difference in cultures due to the time when the novel was written and its location, creates a divide in readers on deciding whether or not