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

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We are not only looking backward, here—interacting with a given textual product of the past—but also, and more crucially, creating new images of the past for the present and for the future. The pietistic stance, too, is productive. I propose that we think in terms not of reception, but of a more engaged notion of replacement. Replacing Genji monogatari Even in Japan, it is abundantly clear that the eleventh-century classical text itself, composed in classical Japanese, has little to do with the prestige Genji continues to enjoy as a canonical work.

Some of these editions go so far as to provide running translations of the entire classical text, which is at any rate a transliteration, or type-translation, of a calligraphic or woodblock-printed manuscript, indecipherable to anyone without the requisite linguistic training, into the standard, contemporary, typeset Japanese of novels, newspapers, and restaurant menus. Indeed, in the real world, replacements need not be word-for-word translations or even image-for-word translations at all: just about any text or object will do, so long as it enables its readers or consumers to participate in the communal act of valuing the story it was made to represent.

And there is no need to stop there—no size is too small where replacements of the masterpiece are concerned. These volumes, though legible, were not necessarily meant. And even this is only the beginning. Once you have stripped away this much of the text, it is a simple matter to dispose of the rest. Genji monogatari is replaced rather than received in any number of other forms. I still have the bottle, which retains its celebratory air even now that it is empty.

This is the simple, almost obvious point I am making: canonization is not really a function of the historically changing reception of old texts, although we have gotten into the habit of talking as though it is, but of the production and the circulation of new replacements of old texts.

To be sure, certain texts and objects stand in a closer relationship to the unknown and unknowable original text of Genji monogatari than others. A fifteenth-century calligraphic transcription of the tale is undoubtedly closer than a typeset annotated edition, which is closer than a translation into modern Japanese, which is closer than an animated film, which is still a good deal closer than Genji monogatari Millennial Anniversary Matcha Baumkuchen. But each of these objects holds out the promise, however tenuous, of an indirect connection to Genji monogatari and its canonical prestige.

Surely the Baumkuchen was worth much more. Even imagining that a single perfect, authoritative original ever existed—and as I noted earlier, Murasaki Shikibu herself appears to have overseen the preparation of at least three versions of. The canonization of Genji does not, because it cannot, in any way depend on an original text.

And yet that is not to say that the original text of Genji monogatari itself, illusory though it may be, is ever made irrelevant by its replacement. If the former has managed to survive in the form of successive replacements of itself, each shaped by the vagaries of its historical moment, the latter has disappeared, temporarily or permanently, from human memory.

Each time a text is recanonized by being replaced, having a new standin created and circulated, it is re-placed within the contemporary sociocultural field. Each new image of Genji relates in some way to earlier images and is caught up in the ebb and flow of life in its moment—in the social, cultural, economic, and political currents into which it is set adrift; each new replacement, in its consumption, pulls the old text into a new articulation with the present, or at least anchors some conception of the original in a new position within a system of relationships to other texts, real and imagined, and to social, economic, political, and cultural conditions that are endlessly contemporary, but also always split by history—by thoughts of how we have come, and where we are headed.

The manga that Egawa Tatsuya says he co-authored with Murasaki Shikibu includes excerpts of a text of Genji monogatari in classical Japanese, penned so as to recall a calligraphic manuscript.

This almost fetishistic attachment to the concept of the original created by medieval scholars—above all, Fujiwara no Teika—is a perfect instance of the complex forward- and backwardlooking dynamic of replacement in the second sense in which I use the term. The text she read was in Japanese; the other, quoted here, was in English.

The Tale of Genji is a Japanese classic.

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It is also a world classic. It was translated into English during the s and 30s and, in recent years, it has been translated into over twenty other foreign languages. It has given pleasure to readers in every part of the world and has deeply impressed them.

On this day, a thousand years ago, this work was mentioned by Murasaki Shikibu, the author, in her diary. What is life? It is precisely because we are in a world in constant fluctuation that we study the classics and embrace them firmly in our hearts.


Envisioning the Tale of Genji - Haruo Shirane - Paperback () » Bokklubben

With them as our support, we will share our hearts more deeply than ever before, with the peoples of the world. We have decided, on this thousandth anniversary of The Tale of Genji, to take a first step in that direction. The classical text, imagined as something stable and unchanging, capable of transcending history—as something that.

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Japanese Studies

Morris, he World of Shining Prince, Shirane ed. As for academic consideration, it would be hard to ind even one feature of he Tale of Genji which has not been thoroughly analysed yet.

Let us meet the ideal man irst in the writing, then on the screen. Later, even if Genji travels in a disguise, he is soon recognised as a person of certain position and importance6. Seidensticker, New York , p. See: M. Shikibu, op. Not only the most incredible looks, but also numerous skills com- plete the image of perfection — the Shining Prince excelled in every single activity he chose to engage in. Genji makes himself known also as a talented dancer — throughout the novel he performs special dances a few times.

The Tale of Genji(源氏物語)

In the bright evening light the music echoed yet more grandly through the palace and the excitement grew; and though the dance was familiar, Genji scarcely seemed of this world. As he intoned the lyrics his auditors could have believed they were listening to the Kalavinka bird of paradise When it comes to the art of painting, Genji again proves his superior- ity. As for the personality of Shining Prince, he might be considered a quite complicated individual. All things said, countless features made Genji so outstanding that no man would ever be close enough to him — that is why some of the Heian ladies would reject advances of real-life courtiers, as they were far away from the ictional ideal How an ideal from a thousand years ago would be shown in the modern ilms — this will be presented on the base of three screen adaptations of he Tale of Genji.

See: ibidem, pp. See: A. Omori and K. Doi, , pp. Apart from Fujitsubo, Genji establishes ro- mantic ties with various ladies: among them Oborozukiyo, Murasaki and Awaji based on lady Akashi and the hird Princess from the novel 25 can be mentioned. Subse- quently, when Genji strolls in stately manner through the palace, court la- dies refrain from their calligraphy class to catch just a glimpse of him Tateishi, op.

See: K. Elegance is likewise the key word to the second chosen portrayal, but with a slight hint of impudence.