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Genji 10-13


Chapter 10 Sasaki / The Sacred Tree. In which Genji’s father the Kiritsubo emperor dies, and Genji’s life takes a dramatic turn for worse. The Rokujô lady leaves society accompanying her daughter Akikonomu, who has been appointed a priestess, to the temple. Since the new emperor is Kikoden’s son, she and the Minister of the Right have their way. Fujisubo commissions religious services in hopes of freeing herself from Genji’s attentions and exhausts every device to avoid him. But she realizes the only way is to take up religious order and to be a nun. Relinquishing her title is the only way to resolve the implacable hostility of Kokiden. Fuijisubo’s decision resonates the opening theme that recurs throughout the book: The heart of a parent is not darkness, and yet he wanders lost in thoughts upon his child.” [13] Genji is exiled for being caught in Oborozukiyo’s bed.

Chapter 11 Hana Chiru Sato 花散里 / The Orange Blossoms. In which Genji sleeps with Reikeiden and her sister Hanachirusato. This chapter marks the unbroken succession of reverses and afflictions of Genji’s life after his exile from the court.

Chapter 12 Suma 須磨 / Suma. In which Genji goes into exile after being caught in Oborozukiyo’s bed. His chief sorrows and worries, as the line on p.13 has foreshadowed, are for his son with Fujisudo. But as time passes, the emperor and others in the court find that Genji has been in their thoughts.

Chapter 13 Akashi 明石 / Akashi. In which Genji impregnates the Akashi lady. This chapter marks Genji’s return from exile. The messenger from Akashi and dream of the old emperor convince Genji to leave the shore of Akashi. At the same tithe late emperor also appears in the emperor’s dream for Genji’s restoration. The New Year marks the issue of amnesty that will bring Genji back to the court.

References to Chinese Poetry. The Tale of Genji demonstrates the strong influence of Chinese literature on Japan during the time period.When his friends and brothers praise his Chinese poems during the early days of his exile, Queen Kokiden is infuriated. She quotes (p.251 Edward Seidensticker) a very famous phrase from the Shih Chi chronicle of the reign of Chin Shih-huang-ti that a enuch planning rebellion showed the high courtiers a deer and required them to call it a horse, and so assured himself that they feared him. In another occasion, when Genji plays koto himself, he reflects on the lady, Wang Chao-jun, one of the four beauties, who was dispatched to the Huns from the harem of the Han emperor Yuan-ti because she had failed to bribe the artists who did portraits of court ladies, and the emperor therefore thought her ill favored. While Genji himself fell out of favor because of his own wrongdoing, the references to Chinese classics abound in the book but they do not make less of the Japanese traditions that this novel professes.

8 Responses

  1. It seems like a lot of this is just a sexual exploits diary – would that be a fair description or do you think it’s more sophisticated?

  2. Very detailed chapter reviews…thanks so much!! 🙂

  3. You are currently one chapter ahead of me. I’ll post about this section this weekend. I am starting to feel some sympathy for Genji with so many losses in this section. It was unexpected. I had begun to think this was going to be like an 17th or 18th century novel, full of episodic trysts but without any real character developement at all.

    I am enjoying it more though.

  4. Wow I am so behind with this. Finally have the entire book (I had somehow only had the first book of the books, also titled The Tale of Genji). But I am only on Chapter 6. Need to catch up! And need to do a post for goodness sake!

  5. I’m finally getting into it too. Chapter 10 was a bit of a turning point for me. I almost know who the characters are now, and am enjoying it much more. Let’s hope it continues to improve as it goes on.

  6. You are moving right along with this one! Nice job!

    Just FYI — I finally got the video posted of one of our dog agility runs from the other weekend if you want to check it out:


  7. rhapsodyinbooks:
    Yes and no. It might be a bit too early to judge Genji and his sexual exploits. I actually have begun to have sympathy for him and his son. I think the bigger picture is the wheels of karma, and after all, this novel was written at the time when buddhism started to influence Japan.

    I hope you’ll pick this book up one day. 🙂

    CB James:
    The episodic trysts lay the framework for this novel. At about a quarter in the book, I have yet to make sense of Shibuku’s intention in using such a literary form. I suspect she is trying to show different stages of buddhism.

    With the upcoming 4th of July long weekend, you can catch up on the reading. I’m also slowing down a little bit, and so is CB James. I’m sure you’ll catch up in no time. Happy reading. 🙂

    Jackie (Farm Lane Books):
    I think demystifying of the intricate relationships certainly helps. I was reading an article about how the first five chapters are most challenging in terms of understanding who is who. Most readers have given up during the first 5 chapters.

    Thanks for the link. I’ll go check it out. 🙂 I agree that the book seems less invincible as I read on.

  8. Hey, Matthew! I finally got more caught up (I am through Chapter 12! I read a lot this past week.) and I finally got a post up about it. Woohoo! I’m actually a part of the read along now, lol.

    I am still having a little trouble keeping track of characters, but hopefully I will get better at it soon. I find that I have been in turns sympathetic and unsympathetic with Genji. I felt bad for him at first since his mother died. Then I thought well he seems to be a player. Then his father died, which hit close to home since mine did this year. Then he is having affairs all over the grid. So, I am back and forth about my feelings toward him, lol.

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