By Patrick W. Caddeau
Murasaki Shikibu’s eleventh-century story of Genji is the main respected paintings of fiction in Japan. This booklet explores Genji’s reception through the years and its position in jap tradition.
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The examples he cites for models of female characters are all women who appear in Genji: Aoi, Yu¯gao, and Ukifune. 22 In characterizing the corpus of Noh plays based on Genji, Janet Goff has observed the following: Although the Genji has never failed to delight readers, its appeal as a source of inspiration and allusion was perhaps greatest during the middle ages, that is, from the late twelfth to the sixteenth century, when the court was in an advanced state of decline. 23 Throughout the medieval period Genji’s connection to poetry and idealized notions of aristocratic culture continued to evolve.
In this chapter, Genji initially faults the ﬁctional tales that Tamakazura is reading due to their presentation of falsehoods. He is clearly articulating the dominant view of prose ﬁction at the time. Tamakazura protests by suggesting that perhaps Genji is too quick to perceive deception in others because he is all too familiar with it himself. In response, Genji changes his position to argue that ﬁctional tales are capable of presenting the realities of life with more depth than historical chronicles and with no greater departure from reality than the parables found in Buddhist scripture.
However insightful these remarks praising the art of ﬁction may be, they are promptly undermined by the narrative of the tale. Immediately following the aforementioned passage, Genji shifts from championing the status of ﬁctional prose to pursuing his sexual interest in Tamakazura. Having placated Tamakazura by retracting his earlier critique of ﬁctional literature, he attempts to capitalize on this conciliatory tone by drawing her into an amorous mood. Tamakazura rebuffs Genji’s advances, and the scene comes to a close.
Appraising Genji: Literary Criticism And Cultural Anxiety in the Age of the Last Samurai by Patrick W. Caddeau