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About the Author: Murasaki Shikibu

Murasaki Shikibu, or Lady Murasaki as she is sometimes known in English, was a Japanese novelist, poet, and a maid of honor of the imperial court during the Heian period. She is best known as the author of The Tale of Genji, written in Japanese between about 1000 and 1008, one of the earliest and most famous novels in human history. "Murasaki Shikibu" was not her real name; her actual name is unknown, though some scholars have postulated that her given name might have been Takako (for Fujiwara Takako). Her diary states that she was nicknamed "Murasaki" ("purple wisteria blossom") at court, after a character in The Tale of Genji. "Shikibu" refers to her father's position in the Bureau of Ceremony (shikibu-shō).


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Murasaki Shikibu. (2007, October 8). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:03, October 19, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?t...


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Goodreads rating: 3.83

Paperback, by Penguin Classics

ISBN10: 014043576X | ISBN13: 9780140435764

Page count: 90

'When I go out to sit on the veranda and gaze,
I sem to be always conjuring up visions of the past'


The Diary recorded by Lady Murasaki (c. 973 c. 1020), author of The Tale of Genji, is an intimate picture of her life as tutor and companion to the young Empress Shoshi. Told in a series of vignettes, it offers revealing glimpses of the Japanese imperial palace the auspicious birth of a prince, rivalries between the Emperor's consorts, with sharp criticism of Murasaki's fellow ladies-in-waiting and drunken courtiers, and telling remarks about the timid Empress and her powerful father, Michinaga. The Diary is also a work of great subtlety and intense personal reflection, as Murasaki makes penetrating insights into human psychology her pragmatic observations always balanced by an exquisite and pensive melancholy.

In his illuminating introduction, Richard Bowing discusses what is known of Murasaki's life, and the religion, ceremonies, costumes, architecture and politics of her time, to explain the cultural background to her vivid evocation of court life. This edition also includes an explanation of Japanese names and dates, appendices and updated further reading.

Translated and introduced by RICHARD BOWRING

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