Monday, January 08, 2007

Long Plotless Genji

I was planning my 100 Books To Read for 2007 last year, and The Tale of Genji came up as a possible book to aim for my 2007 reading. I'm curious about the Japanese classic, but hesitant about taking the plunge.

So, I asked a few people I know how they feel about the book. Big Bird (because she is tall, and because her personality reminds me of a yellow canary) wrote the funniest description of Genji I've ever read. I asked if I could post it, she said okay, and I proceeded to bury it among my emails.

Thankfully, I found it again recently.

"...unless you don't mind long, plotless, but intricate novels about romantic love with plenty of languishing and a great emphasis on taste, delicacy, beauty and sadness, I fear the geeky attractions of Genji will wear thin after a while. It's not a difficult read, but it's not exactly a book you gallop through. Or even stride through. Or trudge. Or stroll. You ramble. Ideally you flit around and stop once in a while to wrap yourself round a tree."

3 comments:

precious said...

ur right. its hilarious.

i stopped flitting somewhere in chapter 3 or 4 i think? and that's with the reads-so-beautifully chinese translation.

with waley - lyrical, but still too emotionally distant in english - i gave up after about 1 and a half chapters...

Dorothy W. said...

I read this last summer and I think your friend's description is pretty good. I did finish it, although not without moments of boredom and frustration. But I read it slowly in small chunks and it worked pretty well that way. The book has a very different kind of rhythm than what I'm used to -- which one would expect, of course. I'm glad I read it, ultimately. I came across a reference to a book about Japan in that time, Ivan Morris's The World of the Shining Prince, which I'm now very curious about.

acquisitionist said...

I too was going to approach this but now I feel intimidated. I'm torn between its integrality to Japanese literature and the fear of having to wrap myself around a tree. Twisted dilemma!