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Centuries before Shakespeare, Murasaki Shikibu's "The Tale of Genji" was already acknowledged as a classic of Japanese literature and the past century has seen this book gain worldwide acceptance as not only the world's first novel but as one of the greatest works of literature of all time. The tale's hero Prince Genji is a shining example of the Heian-era ideal man, accomplished in poetry, dance, music, painting, and, not least of all to the novel's many plots, romance. "The Tale of Genji" and the characters and world it depicts has influenced Japanese culture to its very core and this celebrated translation by Arthur Waley gives Western readers a very genuine feel for the tone of this beloved classic. This edition contains the complete Waley translation of all six books of "The Tale of Genji" and also contains a new foreword by Dennis Washburn with key insights into both the book and the translation for modern readers.
Lady Murasaki Shikibu, born in the year 978, was a member of the famed Fujiwara clan-one of the most influential families of the Heian period. Her literary ability quickly won her a place in the entourage of the Empress Akiko, whose court greatly valued the art of writing. After the death of her husband, Murasaki Shikibu immersed herself in Buddhism, and the religion's influences permeate her writing. Arthur Waley (1889-1966) taught himself Chinese and Japanese after being appointed Assistant Keeper of Oriental Prints and Manuscripts at the British Museum in order to help catalog the paintings in the museum's collection. He went on to renown as one of the most respected translators of Asian classics into English of his time. His long list of translated works includes The Noh Plays of Japan, Monkey (The Journey to the West), The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, and The Analects of Confucius. Dennis Washburn is Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures