13 minutes agoAuthor: Madhu Rai
‘Gei Nji Monogatari’, or ‘The Tale of Genji’ – often considered the world’s first novel – seems to have an unfinished ending. Manga is a very popular genre of literature in Japan. There was a time when a total of 1.9 billion (billion) manga were printed in the year 1995, which means 15 manga per Japanese person! This intricately woven epic was written during the Heian era of Japan (794–1185 AD) and authored by a majestic courtesan named Murasaki Shikibu! The English version of the Tale of Genji spans 54 chapters and about 1300 pages. In this heroic love story of a charming Emperor Genji Covering more than 400 characters and several generations, Genji is considered by many to be the world’s first novel due to its realistic background, psychological depth, and the gradual character development of its two protagonists, Emperor Genji and his prince Kaoru, and the influence of Murasaki, the world’s first novelist, is profound today. But there is a boxer in Japan. At that time, the famous court language of Japan was Chinese, not Japanese! And literature was written in polite Japanese! This story, written in literary Japanese verse and written by a woman, may not have received the right status at that time. and unreadable without special linguistic study due to its complex style.It was first translated into modern Japanese by the poet Akiko Yosano in the early twentieth century. The work describes the life of Hikaru Genji and his concubine named Kiritsubo. For some political reason, the emperor removes Genji from the line of succession and makes him a commoner, and he pursues a career as an imperial official. The story describes the customs of the aristocratic society of that time. It is considered to be the world’s first novel, the first psychological novel, and the first novel to be considered particularly popular in the context of Japanese literature. But one thing about this story has puzzled readers and scholars for a millennium: the end of the story is not a definitive ending. One of Genji’s son Kaoru’s lovers eventually becomes a Buddhist nun, and Kaoru fails in his attempts to hook up with her – hardly a satisfying conclusion after 1,000+ pages of Heian-era royal romance. Its translators and critics are still debating whether this abrupt and unsatisfying ending was the author’s intention. Or did he die before Murasaki could finish it? Other scholars argue that the author may not have had any idea of the endings of the stories; And some say that Murasaki wrote the story for the pleasure of the royal court, not for publication. Many of the chapters in Genji are in no order or numbered. His elaborate manuscript circulated among the ladies of the court in a notebook, and that was its purpose? The translator poet Akiko Yosano believed that Murasaki had previously written only 33 chapters, with the rest being written by his daughter. Its first English translation was attempted by Suematsu Kencho in 1882 but remained incomplete. An abridged English translation of ‘The Tale of Genji’ is now available as Penguin Classics. According to a computer analysis of the English translation of the work, there are ‘significant’ stylistic discrepancies in its later chapters. It may have more than one author. The mystery of the end of the story may never be resolved, but the unfolding narrative gives Genji some modern flair and the novel’s broader Buddhist sense of ‘mono no aware’, or the ephemeral pain of material things or their idyllic beauty. Yay Japan!