Tale of Genji – Read Along

The BookDepository

I wish to apologise in advance for the number of Tale of Genji posts about to descend on this blog.

Matthew is hosting a read along for The Tale of Genji. The plan is to read 3-4 chapters a week, starting today. The Tale of Genji is am imposing 54 chapters long. This means that you will have to endure Genji posts for a minimum of 14 weeks – that means they won’t end until at least the middle of September! Sorry!

If you can’t face reading my meaningless Genji posts for that long then you can do one of two things

  1. Ignore all Genji posts
  2. Join in!!!

The Tale of Genji is often quoted as being the world’s first ever novel. Written over a thousand years ago in Japan, it is about 800 hundred years older than any book I have ever read before. 

It easily qualifies for Rebecca’s really old classics challenge. I’m not taking part in her challenge at the moment, but depending on how well I cope with Genji I will definitely consider taking part next year.

I am reading the new Tyler translation of the book, which claims to have writing frseh enough to be enjoyed in today’s society. We’ll soon see if this is true!

This definitely qualifies as the most challenging book I have ever read. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so daunted about reading something before, and I would never have decided to read it without someone to read along with. Thank you Matthew!

Are you planning to join in?

If so, are you daunted by this book?

What is the most challenging book you have ever read?


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17 Comments

  1. Sandy says:

    Again, I bow to your fortitude and bravery. I simply cannot take this on with good conscience. But I will not ignore these posts. I will follow you and Matt religiously, as always. Perhaps you will inspire me!

  2. JoAnn says:

    I look forward to following you and Matt on your journey, but it’s just not one I can make this summer!

  3. FleurFisher says:

    I shall be right beside you Jackie. The book has been sitting on my shelf for ages and this may be the only way I ever read it. I have to say that, having scanned the first few pages, it does look very readable. It may well be the case that long old books have to be to survive!

  4. Jackie says:

    Sandy – Perhaps after the first round of posts you will be inspired to join us! I understand why you wouldn’t want to devote such a large amount of reading time to one book though. It is going to take a long time to read this one!

    JoAnn – Thank you for your thoughts. I’m sure you’ll find lots of great books to read over the summer instead!

    Jane – I’m so happy to hear that you are joining us! I’m pleased to hear it is readable. I look forward to comparing notes with you.

  5. Louise says:

    I am not going to (have the time to) join in, but I am very intrigued now. Have never heard about this book, and its actually great to learn something new. Will follow you progress :)

  6. Nicole says:

    I will be curious to read all of the posts, but it sounds daunting. I get images of Beouwulf and Old English…only you know…Japanese. Ordinarily I would probably be up for it but I am not in very high attention span mode as of late.

  7. CBJames says:

    I’m joining in and I’m already a little behind. It’s the top of the list for my weekend reading. I have the same translation you do. Is your copy illustrated?

    Pictures can really help. More books should be illustrated in my opinion.

  8. Kim says:

    I’ll be following for the moment and may join in along the way. I do not have a copy of this book right now but will look out for the illustrated version. C.B makes a good point about pictures helping with reading, especially with a book written so long ago. Good luck, folks!

  9. Jo says:

    Good luck with it. I’ll be following because ‘m interested to know what you think. One of my friends is really interested in japanese culture and keeps pestering me to read this, but I can’t commit to it right now. Maybe one day!

  10. Jackie says:

    I hope I manage to keep you all interested in Genji after several weeks of posting about it!

    I’m going to be reading my beautifully illustrated hardback copy of this book. I’ll try to remember to upload some photos of it next week, so you can get some idea of what it is like.

    CBJames – It is great to hear you are joining in too!

    Kim – I hope you decide to join us.

  11. Joanna says:

    I really wanted to join in, but it’s just not possible at this time… Looking forward to your Genji posts though! Have fun!

  12. Rebecca Reid says:

    It does sound like a great book. I’m currently plowing through The Arabian Nights, so I’m not ready for this one yet. I hope you enjoy it!

  13. Shannon says:

    I read the first chapter the other night, and I found it very easy to follow and understand. I’m reading the new Tyler translation, and I found his footnotes extremely helpful in places where the author had said something that the original audience, with its cultural understanding, would have naturally picked up on. I also read his introduction, which was a little longish, but helped me feel prepared and less overwhelmed. Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far, even though it’s quite different, being epic and Japanese, from what I usually read. I’m planning on reading more about Genji this weekend!

  14. Matthew says:

    It is very very old, presumably the first novel. Gosh, 14 weeks….I think a weekly post wouldn’t be too much of a detour from regular programming! :)

  15. Jackie says:

    Joanna – It’s a shame you can’t join us – maybe for the next read along, whatever that might be?

    Rebecca – Arabian Nights? Wow! I hope you’re enjoying it – I look forward to hearing all about it.

    Shannon – Does the introduction give anything away? I always worry about reading introductions to books like this, as they often assume you know everything about it already, then give away all the plot points.

    Matthew – Breaking it down like that does make it sound even more daunting. esspecially since I’m going on holiday for a few weeks in the middle. Not sure how I’m going to keep up then…

  16. Shannon says:

    The introduction does give a lot away, but it’s in its own section titled plot summary or something similar. So I think if you skipped that you might be okay. But if you don’t want to know anything at all about the plot and characters beforehand, it’d be best to not read it. Also, I remember the footnotes sometimes told me something was going to happen before it actually did.

  17. Jackie says:

    Shannon – Thank you for letting me know. I think I’ll avoid the introduction for a little bit, perhaps reading it when we get a little bit further in. I’m finding the footnotes quite annoying at the moment, so I might ignore them on the first reading – especially now I know they give things away. Thanks again, and I look forward to comparing notes soon.

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