Envisioning the Tale of Genji

Envisioning the Tale of Genji: Media, Gender, and Cultural Production

EDITED BY Haruo Shirane
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    Envisioning the Tale of Genji
    Book Description:

    Bringing together scholars from across the world, Haruo Shirane presents a fascinating portrait of The Tale of Genji's reception and reproduction over the past thousand years. The essays examine the canonization of the work from the late Heian through the medieval, Edo, Meiji, Taisho, Showa, and Heisei periods, revealing its profound influence on a variety of genres and fields, including modern nation building. They also consider parody, pastiche, and re-creation of the text in various popular and mass media. Since the Genji was written by a woman for female readers, contributors also take up the issue of gender and cultural authority, looking at the novel's function as a symbol of Heian court culture and as an important tool in women's education. Throughout the volume, scholars discuss achievements in visualization, from screen painting and woodblock prints to manga and anime. Taking up such recurrent themes as cultural nostalgia, eroticism, and gender, this book is the most comprehensive history of the reception of The Tale of Genji to date, both in the country of its origin and throughout the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51346-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Note to the Reader
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Part I The Late Heian and Medieval Periods:: Court Culture, Gender, and Representation
    • Chapter 2 Figure and Facture in the Genji Scrolls: TEXT, CALLIGRAPHY, PAPER, AND PAINTING
      (pp. 49-80)
      Yukio Lippit

      THE MOST celebrated object in the artifactual history of The Tale of Genji is a set of twelfth-century picture handscrolls commonly known as the Tale of Genji Scrolls (Genji monogatari emaki). The work originally consisted of ten to twelve scrolls containing more than a hundred excerpts and accompanying paintings, an average of two scenes from each of the fifty-four chapters of the Genji. Approximately one-fifth of the original set (twenty paintings and twenty-nine excerpts) survives. The subtlety of the paintings, the sophistication of the calligraphy, and the craftsmanship of the paper decoration mark the Genji Scrolls as the outcome of...

    • Chapter 3 The Tale of Genji and the Development of Female-Spirit Nō
      (pp. 81-100)
      Reiko Yamanaka

      IN THE Muromachi period, two major performative genres emerged, and renga (classical linked verse), both of which made extensive use of classical Japanese literature as the source for literary inspiration and allusive variation. The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when Zeami (1363–1443), the foremost playwright, was active, was also the time when Yotsutsuji Yoshinari (1326–1402) wrote Kakaishō (Book of Seas and Rivers, 1387– ca. 1394), the first major Genji commentary, and when such Genji digests as Genji kokagami (A Small Mirror of Genji, ca. fourteenth century) were written. In short, Genji nō plays appeared at a pivotal...

      (pp. 101-128)
      Melissa McCormick

      THE PICTORIAL reception of The Tale of Genji in the medieval period was in large part a monochromatic one. This may come as a surprise to those who associate the literary classic with polychrome painted representations, resplendent with gold and flowers in full bloom. Yet from the fourteenth through the sixteenth century, The Tale of Genji achieved pictorial expression to a remarkable degree in the primarily black-and-white genre of hakubyō (white drawing), a mode of picture making that eschewed color and all the pageantry associated with it in favor of austere, monochrome, and linear compositions. Emerging during the thirteenth century...

      (pp. 129-154)
      Lewis Cook

      The Tale of Genji was taken as a pretext for literary composition almost from the moment it began to circulate, and the range of writings it spawned encompasses every identifiable mode or genre—from poetry to essay, diary (nikki), anecdote (setsuwa), fictional sequel, drama, criticism, parody, and, of course, so-called commentary. Collectively, such writings are now studied under the capacious rubric of “reception history,” a reliable indication of the difficulties of both distinguishing genres and setting commentary apart from the rest.

      Premodern exegetical literature on The Tale of Genji often took the form of interlinear or marginal notations in manuscripts...

  7. Part II The Edo Period:: Warrior Society, Education, and Popular Culture
    • Chapter 6 Didactic Readings of The Tale of Genji: POLITICS AND WOMEN’S EDUCATION
      (pp. 157-170)
      Haruki Li

      The Tale of Genji is now recognized as a literary masterpiece. Through most of the premodern and early modern periods, however, it was not generally regarded as a work of literature in the modern sense of an autonomous work of art, to be enjoyed primarily for its narrative and aesthetic qualities. No doubt it was appreciated, often by female readers, as an original and entertaining text, but in the late medieval and Edo periods, the Genji was valued mainly for its utilitarian and didactic qualities; it was used as a handbook for poetry composition, a guide to moral ideals for...

    • Chapter 7 Genji Pictures from Momoyama Painting to Edo Ukiyo-e: CULTURAL AUTHORITY AND NEW HORIZONS
      (pp. 171-210)
      Keiko Nakamachi

      LARGE-SCALE screen paintings that depict scenes from The Tale of Genji served an important social function in warrior society in the late Sengoku and Momoyama periods. New, powerful military leaders, such as Oda Nobunaga, provided the main demand for the elaborate Genji paintings of this time, which were produced mainly by noted painters of the Kano and Tosa schools, such as Kano Eitoku. While not the ultimate symbol of cultural authority, these paintings were highly esteemed by military leaders who had little or no aristocratic pedigree. Genji paintings were also associated with the ōoku (harem quarters in the castles).


    • Chapter 8 The Splendor of Hybridity: IMAGE AND TEXT IN RYŪTEI TANEHIKO’S INAKA GENJI
      (pp. 211-240)
      Michael Emmerich

      CANONICAL WORKS of literature do not remain canonical because they are continually being reproduced—although, no doubt, most of them are—but because they are continually being replaced. In Chōhen shōsetsu no kenkyū (Studies of the Novel, 1925), Tayama Katai laments that people no longer read the actual text of The Tale of Genji, contenting themselves instead with adaptations; he cites Ryutei Tanehiko’s Nise Murasaki inaka Genji (A Fraudulent Murasaki’s Bumpkin Genji, 1829–1842) as an example. But, of course, Katai could admonish deluded readers to read the original Genji only because the adaptations had both certified and advertised their...

  8. Part III The Meiji, Taishō, and Prewar Shōwa Periods:: National Literature, World Literature, and Imperial Japan
    • Chapter 9 The Tale of Genji, National Literature, Language, and Modernism
      (pp. 243-287)
      Tomi Suzuki

      AS JAPAN emerged as a modern nation-state in the larger global geopolitical world at the end of the nineteenth century, the notions of national literature and national language—which assumed a shared awareness of a tradition based on a common language, culture, and history—were thought by Japan’s new nation builders to be indispensable to the construction of a unified nation-state. In this discursive formation, The Tale of Genji became a crucial component, particularly in the establishment of the field of literature, considered to be a modern field of knowledge, along with science, political science, history, philosophy, religion, and art....

    • Chapter 10 Wartime Japan, the Imperial Line, and The Tale of Genji
      (pp. 288-300)
      Masaaki Kobayashi

      BY THE end of the medieval period, The Tale of Genji had become the chief symbol of the court culture of Heian Japan. But its female authorship and depiction of amorous relationships—particularly Genji’s illicit affair with Fujitsubo, the chief consort of Emperor Kiritsubo—also made the Genji a repeated target of criticism, first by Buddhist priests and writers in the medieval period, then by Confucian scholars in the Edo period (1600–1867), and finally by scholars and critics in the modern period.

      The Genji spans four generations of emperors—Kiritsubo, Suzaku, Reizei, and the “current emperor”—over seventy-five years....

  9. Part IV The Postwar Shōwa and Heisei Periods:: Visuality, Sexuality, and Mass Culture
    • Chapter 11 The Tale of Genji in Postwar Film: EMPEROR, AESTHETICISM, AND THE EROTIC
      (pp. 303-328)
      Kazuhiro Tateishi

      A Tale of Genji boom began in the 1950s, following the end of World War II, as various media—books, music, theater, radio, television, film, anime—repeatedly took up the Genji.¹ The adaptations often were digests of the original text or works with iconic images that conveyed a sense of “Genji-ness.” I refer to such versions, which were both mass-produced and mass-consumed, as “mass-pro cessed culture” (kakō bunka). Such forms of the Genji have been relegated to an inferior status by an academic world that has exalted the original text. But the scholarly community, which has traditionally viewed its work...

    • Chapter 12 Sexuality, Gender, and The Tale of Genji in Modern Japanese Translations and Manga
      (pp. 329-358)
      Yuika Kitamura

      THE 1970S marked the beginning of a boom in new translations of The Tale of Genji that continues even today. Free translations, which deliberately take liberties with the original text, began to be published in the middle of the 1970s, and the first manga (comic) version appeared at the end of that decade. Since the publication of Shin’yaku Genji monogatari (New Translation of The Tale of Genji, 1912–1913), an abridged translation into modern Japanese by Yosano Akiko, which turned the Genji into a modern novel, translations have played a key role in the reception of the tale. Modern Japanese...

  10. Chapter Titles of The Tale of Genji
    (pp. 359-362)
  11. Selected Bibliography on The Tale of Genji and Its Reception in English
    (pp. 363-370)
  12. Contributors
    (pp. 371-374)
  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  14. Index
    (pp. 375-400)